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The People’s Brick Company

NOW Gallery’s press release:

On 24th June a new communal artwork commission, The People’s Brick Company, will debut at Greenwich Peninsula in partnership with NOW Gallery. Created by the arts and architecture practice Something & Son, Londoners and all are encouraged to dive in and dig up a clay ‘quarry’ sculpture located on the peninsula. The clay will be brought back to the NOW gallery and moulded into a unique brick stamped with the initials of the maker. These bricks will be left to air dry on a large rack in the gallery over the summer, forming a constantly evolving display of thousands of bricks. The bricks will then be gathered to construct a large kiln firing them all in one go in a public celebration on 17th September. Once fired, the bricks will be made into a permanent folly, serving as a reminder that architecture can be simple and inclusive.

The People’s Brick Company looks to reveal the modest yet important beginnings of Greenwich Peninsula. In the early 19th century it was primarily used as a brickfield site to facilitate local land development and the construction of the first brick buildings in the area. Through a simple combination of fire, mud and sweat, brick making was a cheap and hands-on method of creating beautiful architecture. The installation will invite visitors to use the same vernacular architectural processes used in the past by providing the opportunity for people to quarry the clay, mould the clay into bricks, dry the brick and finally fire all the individual bricks in a large kiln at the end of the summer.

The project embraces its location and the huge construction work happening on the peninsula, with the design using the waste timber from the building works to create the drying rack and tables. The drying rack is designed to use no nails or screws in its construction; instead lap joints allow each piece of timber to slot together. At the end of the project the rack will be dismantled with the timber used to fire the brick.

As the peninsula nears the point where the whole land will be locked in by buildings, the clay bricks will act as a monument highlighting the peninsula’s humble and important beginnings that allowed for people to construct its first brick buildings. It offers Londoners an opportunity to get their hands stuck into the humble substance that made London into the world’s largest ever city in the 19th century. In a culture in which the production and origins of goods are becoming increasingly complex and exclusive Something & Son is addressing a wish to return to the roots of our cities and in turn participate in the making of things.