"This is no ordinary construction site or no ordinary neighbourhood."
“As you walk, remember to look up,” was the advice of Craig Taylor, a self-proclaimed wanderer and acclaimed author of Londoners: A Study of Contemporary Life, concerned that the city’s finest treasures are all too often overlooked. But where Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham are concerned, they don’t miss the minute details of everyday that the work-weary eye skips on the way to their next destination. They have cemented themselves in an inimitable position, at the heart of which lies an unbridled curiosity.
They soak up ideas from the Cloud Appreciation society, maths, and even dirty tiled bathroom floors – there’s nothing that escapes Patternity’s wide-scoping gaze. There’s as much to be discovered, they say, in the grittier side of urban life – in the diesel-soaked pavements, in the flotsam and jetsam of kitchen sinks. The “pattern hunters” otherwise known as Patternity, are photographer and art director Anna Murray and her university friend, Grace Winteringham, a surface and product designer.
The pattern research consultancy and creative studio has produced a portfolio of pattern work that’s wrapped around the legs of London’s fashion forward females (they curated a range of statement tights for Pretty Polly) and inspired the minds of School of Life day-trippers as they toured the city in search of the hidden patterns of street life.
In the more traditional settings of Somerset House’s west wing, Patternity’s curation of geometric mirrors, zany textures and monochrome prints was a literal playground of pattern in which adults could “connect with one another.”
Starting as an online image archive of patterns in 2009 and quickly ascending to world-leading status, it’s no doubt their collaborators list is envious – there’s Clarks Original’s, The Barbican and The V&A – so now the pair are trying something new. Designing Frequency, a set of mesh screens around one of Greenwich Peninsula’s construction sites, embedding art onto the emerging Upper Riverside district.
Construction sites aren’t where you’d typically take in pieces of art or design. But this is no ordinary construction site or no ordinary neighbourhood. While Myerscough’s collection of colourful cranes play above the Upper Riverside apartments, the mesh screens connect you to the elements. Usually functional, never pleasing, this time they’ve been reimagined, taking inspiration fromthe river Thames’ tidal waves. The curved lines mimic the surging of the water. The strong geometric shapes suggest movement. And as the building rises so does their artwork Frequency.
Like Frequency, the SOM-designed apartments that they wrap are wed to the river, the design understanding that the river Thames doesn’t merely meander around the Peninsula, but brings people closer to nature. Who doesn’t enjoy the hypnotic flow of water, or watching boats bob as they catch the waves?
When complete, the five prisms will stand along the Thames’ edges with floor-to-ceiling windows, its undulating pattern making way for the water as the river bank bends. The architecture will become a reverberation of the Thames itself, just like Frequency.
Whether it be clothes, shoes, Patternitalks (TED talks about patterns), or even architecture their mission is to delve, dig and share barely noticed systems, bringing the mundane to the magnificent and to show that “everything is connected.”
Anna speaks of the importance of being inquisitive, an approach reflected in their book, which pulls together years of research and “explores the philosophy of viewing at the earth as a whole – looking at natural patterns.” She says, “We’re not inventing pattern, we’re revisiting it, inspiring people and encouraging them to be more curious.”
The book presents work from the Fibonacci sequence, to patterns found in engineering. Named Patternity: A New Way of Seeing, it’s this fresh perspective they’ve used to adorn Upper Riverside simply by looking at the water that surrounds it. They too see the allure of the ever-rolling river.
Catch Patternity at NOW Gallery Later: Bringing Frequency to Life on 20th April 2017 from 6 – 10pm.