If you turn around the corner of the former Kent Wool Growers site in Ashford, near Tannery Lane, you’ll come across an unexpected surprise.
The walls of the soon-to-be-demolished office building in Kent appear to have been unzipped in a new 8-meter installation by local artist Alex Chinneck, transforming it into a surreal and theatrical sculpture.
Alex’s masterpiece consists of an enormous double zip up the front of the building, and a similar single zip along the side, creating the illusion that the walls of a 1960s office building have been unzipped to reveal its interior.
The installation is a reflection of our belief in the importance of working with the local community to help visualise the potential of the sites we are developing, while recognising and appreciating their unique history.
That’s why when we found out that Alex Chinneck was local to Ashford and producing such ground-breaking work, we knew we had to collaborate with him!
The installation references the history of the office building, as the home of a leather and textile manufacturer – hence the name Tannery Lane – but it also alludes to its imminent demolishment.
It’s also a reflection of our determination to ensure the places we create reflect the local community. That starts with opening our sites to the public from the get go, so we not only can hear about their aspirations for the area, but also learn about its heritage and culture.
So, it is apt that the installation has been entitled Open to the public.
Alex has been able to create something extraordinary out of the ordinary with the space – which is exactly what we aim to do with all of our developments.
We always look to work in partnership with those that share our values and after Alex unveiled his piece he commented how property developers are one of the biggest investors in the art world by offering artists a range of diverse landscapes to transform and work with. "Property developers, as Alex Chinneck says, are one of the biggest investors in the art world and thank god for them."
"Before there were galleries, there were churches and the church was acting like a gallery…and the Pope commissioned artists to produce works of art. A property developer is just doing the same thing and what could be more wonderful than surrounding yourself with art?"
Open to the public is an art piece that chimes with our own belief that property development and regeneration should be unique to the area, and you cannot create amazing places without the collaboration with the local community. We pride ourselves on developing places that are authentic to the people that live there, and that really work for them.
This is just the beginning of some of the amazing work we have planned, and we look forward for continuing to bring life and creativity to the vibrant town that is Ashford.