The Visual Arts department at West Dean College is currently developing a site-specific sculpture project in collaboration with Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and the Naval Base Property Trust. A few weeks ago, two recently-graduated sculpture students from the Visual Arts MA programme, Richard Barnes and Anni Onsager, were invited to present proposals to the September meeting of the Porter’s Garden committee – a group of dedicated volunteers who initiated the project. The volunteers care for the garden, which was designed by Landscape Architect Robert Camlin in 1999, with advice and support from Hampshire Gardens Trust, and recreated on the site of a Dockyard Porter’s garden dating back to 1754.
The meeting took place in the Porter’s Lodge, a domestic building built in 1708 where the Dockyard Porter resided. The Porter fulfilled three important functions: guarding the Dockyard’s boundaries and property, marking working hours by ringing the muster bell and closing the gate against latecomers. He was the public face of the Dockyard, acting as an mediator between the communities both inside and outside its walls.
The proposed site for the sculpture is an open area opposite the existing Porter’s garden, directly in front of the elegant listed facade of Boathouse 6, originally built between 1845-48 as part of the Victorian extension of the Royal Dockyard, which now houses an interactive exhibition hall and independent cinema. Framed by the brick backdrop of the Boathouse and beside the newly added spiral staircase, the site was clearly a chance for the students to propose a variety of different ideas. Any installed sculpture would be seen by thousands of visitors from all around the world, every year, and constitutes a great opportunity for the Dockyard and College alike.
We will post any updates relating to this project as soon as they develop.