Tag Archives: structure


An excited me next to the final full size prototype of one of the Flourishes. This was made for final sign-off of the central element details. Photograph by Poppy Veerasawmy (Creative Facade).


In early 2014 I was shortlisted, along with three other Australian Artists, to competitively bid for The Milton Artwork Public Artwork Façade opportunity. Each artist had six weeks to develop a unique artwork concept and submit a detailed expression of interest that included their artwork concept, composition, buildability and fabrication methodology.


Concept behind Flourish – Patterns of Milton’s early land use and how they mirrored some of the micro structures within native and crop species.

After visiting Milton and undertaking research into the site’s history I was intrigued by Milton’s development over time. Of particular interest were the patterns of early land use and how they mirrored the micro cellulose structures within native and crop species. I  tested my initial concepts using a series of small handmade models. Some of the models just tested the individual elements’ form, while larger studies explored the overall composition and visual permeability of the artwork. These studies then directly informed the 3D computer models and renders. Flourish’s composition frames a field’s edge where native flora have re-grown and flourished.



Different from all angles – Flourish handmade artwork of a small portion of The Milton Artwork Facade for my Concept Proposal, February 2014 (Dimensions 550 x 375mm). Photography Christina Waterson.


Concept render of view from within the spaces behind Flourish, prepared for my Milton Artwork Facade Concept Proposal, February 2014.


Initial concept render of Flourish – thrive prosper bloom, February 2014. The artwork marks the Railway Terrace entrance to Milton Train Station.

My final EOI included the Flourish artwork concept; handmade models; facade elevations and sections; interior and exterior views; assembly methodology; as well as detailed quotations from three local manufacturers.

In late 2014 to my joy I’d successfully been selected as the preferred artist for the project.


Showing colour and how the work progressed throughout the process – here is the revised concept render of Flourish presented to the BCC.

After initial briefing with the Project Stakeholders I incorporated their great feedback to add colour and further develop the composition option that incorporated a central dimensional flourish design framed by flatter border panels. At the end of 2014 my revised composition was approved by the Client and submitted to the Brisbane City Council (BCC).


Team meetings with the client, fabricators and documenters for design development, documentation and prototyping happened in the first half of 2015.

CMWaterson-Flourish Half Scale Prototype 2015

One of many prototypes made by Auzmet for Hutchinson Builders, during Design Development and Documentation. Pictured is a half scale prototype of a central Flourish element with the border design. Photography by Christina Waterson.

This was an intensive and rewarding process in which details of the artwork and its elements were streamlined for material properties and sheet efficiency; as well as for the fabrication process. The artwork’s overall layout was further developed during this time to accommodate weight and support requirements. The design of the fretwork was developed to meet the revised free air requirements in those areas while also concealing the artworks orthogonal support frame. I worked closely with Poppy Veerasawmy (Creative Facade) throughout this process.

The final colours (based on native flower species), artwork layout and details were signed off in May 2015 with the approved design being fabricated in June and July. It was really great that the artwork was made in Brisbane by local manufacturers who specialise in metal fabrication and coating. It meant I could visit each fabricator on a regular basis, stay in touch with progress and photograph the fabrication process.


Just a few of the 200 or more Flourish parts awaiting finishing and transport to the painters. Photography by Christina Waterson.


Labelling of parts that make up the central Flourish panels prior to coating. Photography by Christina Waterson.


At the painters each element was painted prior to assembly. Photography by  Christina Waterson.



During installation of the central Flourish area. Photography by Christina Waterson.

Installation started in August and was completed in September 2015. I visited the site weekly to see how the artwork had grown. It was an affirming experience to witness it evolve to completion. The details that we’d worked through during design development/documentation contributed to the overall effect and success of the artwork.



View to Flourish – thrive prosper bloom from Railway Terrace footpath. Photography by Christina Waterson.


Different from different angles: An acute detailed view to Flourish – thrive prosper bloom north along Railway Terrace. Photography by Christina Waterson.


An acute detailed view Flourish – thrive prosper bloom south along Railway Terrace. Photography by Christina Waterson.


Flourish – thrive prosper bloom 2015 from Railway Terrace, Milton. Photography by Christina Waterson.


Long front view of Flourish from Manning Street approach. Photography by Christina Waterson.

Since Flourish’s completion I’ve received lovely feedback from visitors to Milton. People especially love the artwork elements, colour and the way the composition looks different from all angles.


Client: Commissioned by Aveo Group Ltd and Hutchinson Builders

Name: Flourish – thrive prosper bloom 2015

Medium: Painted steel

Location: The Milton Residences, 55 Railway Terrace Milton, Queensland, Australia.

Artwork Area: Over 440 sqm

Built locally in Brisbane by Hutchinson Builders through Auzmet, Creative Facade, GCI Group, and Peerless Painting and Sandblasting.

Original Drawings by Owen Jones within the V&A Museum Collection

Back in London…. on to research at The V&A Museum. Architect and Designer, Owen Jones is celebrated for his detailed documentation and reproduction of mosaics and tile work patterns from around the world. He carried this work out during mid 19th Century. Detailed publications and original drawings for color plates of his work are part of the V&A Collection and include ‘Drawing of tiles at the Alhambra’ and ‘Original drawings for The Grammar of Ornament’ published in 1856.

I was fortunate to spend time within The Victoria and Albert Museum’s Prints Room to view first hand Owen Jones’ original drawings. His methodical care and attention to document the patterns was striking. He drew them in a way that allowed the individual elements, their repetition and the underlying structure of the pattern to be understood. There was just enough information and color to understand the very complex patterns, without too much to confuse and overload the page and the eye.

The V&A Library and Reading Room

In the V&A’s Library I viewed the published copies of Owen Jones’ ‘The Grammar of Ornament’, that they hold in their collection. The plates within the book were half the size of the original drawings but still retained the clarity, color and quality of the originals. It was great to see his work at this time. It was made all the more valuable and meaningful by my first hand experience of patterns within each of the places I had just visited through my Winston Churchill Fellowship Research.

Owen Jones' Chinese Patterns No 01 from The Grammar of Ornament , The V&A

Owen Jones' Persian Patterns No 01 from The Grammar of Ornament, The V&A

Hidden Entry to The Mosque

Arda, my Interpreter, guided me to a very special place: The Rustem Pasha Mosque. It was hidden amid market stalls on route to the Spice and Grand Bazaars. Smaller than The Blue Mosque, to me it was more modest and peaceful as a place to reflect. The tile work was much more accessible and I was able to more closely appreciate the patterns and their detail. Built by Mimar Sinan the mosque is lined with Iznik tiles featuring hatia, rumi, cloud and tulip designs in rich colors of turquoise, green, red, and cobalt on a white background.

Portico where one prepares before entering the Mosque
Many of the Iznik Tiles on the exterior were removed. Only later did the community attempt to refind them or replace them with other tiles.
The tiles originally formed complete continuous patterns
The beautiful mix of collected tiles many not originally from the Mosque

Through the sequence of arrival, ascending from the market, through a small door and dark set of enclosed steps (one of four sets), we arrived within the entry courtyard of the Mosque. The courtyard was defined in three sections (open air, arcade and the narthex; covered with tiles) and surrounded on three sides by porticos.

The view beyond the portico

The courtyard had a subtle sense of enclosure defined by floating domes and framed views beyond and below, through the colonnades of stonework. The combination of stone, ironwork, tiling and stained glass were in balance on the exterior. Inside was truly like ‘Walking into Heaven’s Garden’ with thousands of Iznik tiles colored and patterned with the pure beauty of nature lining the Mosque interior. We were there in the early afternoon midweek, and it was very peaceful. I found it hard to imagine people spilling out into the courtyard for Friday Prayer. But this was a weekly occurrence when the Mosque had full visitation.

One of four Shadowed Entry Portals to the Mosque
Stepping back out into the Bazaar
Beppu Streets

Before I left for Kyoto, I spent the morning walking through Beppu’s inner city streets. I visited Platform 04 (Select Beppu) the Beppu Project shop.

Select Beppu – Platform 04
QAG Staff install Lin’s work

Upstairs was a permanent installation by the artist Michael Lin. It was the same floral pattern used for his installation that I had managed for  APT 2002 (the Asia Pacific Triennial of 2002) at the Queensland Art Gallery. He had completed this new work for the Beppu Project in 2010. An amazing coincidence!

I walked to Platform 07 and then to Platform 02 where I met Japanese artist in residence, Miyuki Kido.

Platform 02 with Miyuki Kido working

She was working on her project, Beppu Memorial Garden, that maps the pattern of Beppu through the food she enjoyed during her stay. She collects the seeds from the food she has eaten each day; then washes and prepares the seed for planting. The day I met Kido the seeds from the watermelon she had eaten a week before were just starting to germinate.

Kido and her seedlings
The germinating watermelon seeds

All of her plants were to be installed in the Platform 02 studio where she had been based during her residency. More time in Beppu would let the garden be more advanced and diverse. After the opening visitors would be able to take the plants home and so the garden would continue to grow.

“Her works are universal symbols and they function where language stops in communication. Ever so gently they exist as a tiny powerline between her heart and everyone else’s.” CAThornton at

Her process and project Kido likens to mapping the ‘Synapses of Streets’. She photographs each stage; the food; the seed from the foods; the stages of growth of the plants; the presentation then dispersal to new owners. And so the garden will be a map of Kido’s time in Beppu; of the local limes and fruits and foods she has enjoyed. Her gift is to give back and nourish our minds and bodies with her beautiful Beppu garden.

View Kido’s earlier works including Paper Architecture series at Kido’s website.

Ohashi-san and Naoko, my interpreter for the day, picked me up in the van and we headed into the mountains behind Beppu.

We drove up the mountain past rice paddies, bamboo groves and pine forests.

We were going to visit Hajime Nakatomi in Yufu: one of Ohashi-san’s fellow Bamboo Artists and members of BAICA. Ohashi-san founded BAICA naming it after the Bungo Plum Blossum, the Prefecture Flower of Oita. The flower has five petals and the group is to have five members. Ohashi-san explains that there are presently four members and they are looking for the fifth. The day Ohashi-san was deliberating on forming the group the Plum blossoms were flowering in a brilliant red-pink haze. BAICA is an experimental group of young bamboo weavers. It is a platform to strengthen their artistic practices, encourage through the journey and develop together.

We arrive at Injojo Temple: an abandoned temple that is Nakatomi-san’s studio.

I am speechless. Nakatomi-san greets us and we are welcomed into the studio. Nakatomi-san makes both traditional craft and experimental works. Both are technically complex and demand perfection: both are very different, but the result is the same; calm, seemingly effortless with visual harmony. His dedication to each step and facet of his practice coupled with his modesty move me. It is little wonder (I find out later) that his works have been exhibited throughout Japan, New York, London and Italy.

Nakatomi-san with his exquisite traditional works
The bamboo store
< Traditional box with intricate Ajiro weave. Central: Experimental weaving. Contemporary works >

We discuss what makes a work traditional or contemporary and Nakatomi-san explains there are particular sets of rules for traditional works to follow; for example:

– The function of the object and the weave pattern follow traditions and align

– The top and ends must be ‘finished’ or woven back into the weaving so that they are hidden

– The forms that the object takes follow traditions

One of the contemporary works has weaving specifically used for eel traps. It’s a traditional but very natural flowing weave to conceal the trap in the water. Nakatomi has used it here for a vessel, distorting the form through the tensions of the weave and leaving the ends unfinished.

Front: Eel trap weaving used in Contemporary vessel. Background: Sculptural constructions

For me Nakatomi-san’s more sculptural constructions (Prism and Natural Prism series) capture a moment. They articulate the space of space. They are at home here in the temple.

Beautiful work of beautiful people in a beautiful place.

View Hajime Nakatomi’s works at his website.

I met Mr Ohashi and my interpreter for the day, the lovely Ayako, and after some introductions we headed off for the day.

Our first stop was the Traditional Bamboo Craft Centre, Beppu.

Ohashi-san would give a personal insight into the long tradition of bamboo weaving (Take-zaiku) in Beppu. At the Traditional Bamboo Craft Centre were historical and contemporary examples of weaving in everyday objects including lampshades, sieves, fish traps, flower vases and baskets for carrying all manner of things. There were so many weaving types. They included pine needle, octagonal, reticulated, chrysanthemum bottom, rinko and hexagonal weaving patterns. Unfortunately photography was not permitted in the exhibition.

Ohashi-san explained that each bamboo variety has slightly different qualities that lend themselves to the making of certain objects. Bamboo varieties on display included:

–  Kurochiku (black bamboo, scrolls, fences, decoration)

–  Hachiku (light coloured bamboo used for tea whisk)

–  Gomadake (speckled bamboo)

Beppu artisans use madake bamboo. Madake (Phyllostachys bambusoides) is one of the three most important and widely used types of bamboo in Japan, especially for Traditional Japanese Craft. (The other ones are moso and hotchiku). Madake grows large and is so widely used because of the quality and straightness of the culm (stem) and the smoothness of its nodes (horizontal rings).

There was a special dedicated area for the work by bamboo master artisans including the first National Living Treasure in Bamboo Craft, Shounsai Shono (1904-1974) and apprentices he mentored including Ryuun Yamaguchi and Nobuyuki Tanabe.

The work of Nobuyuki Tanabe

Here were examples that showed the shift of Bamboo craft from the everyday to the level of art (Mingei movement or ‘the art of people’). We spent some time with the works as they were so intricate, the variety of colour, weave and designs numerous and I had so many questions for Ohashi-san.

The upstairs area of the Centre is dedicated to teaching the craft. We saw a class in progess.

Truly inspired we headed out into Beppu for lunch. The lovely Mr Shigeomi Ohashi at lunch.

The Asanoha pattern is one of the most popular traditional patterns often seen on Japanese kimono.  Asanoha means: Asa = hemp: no = of: ha = leaf. The regular geometric pattern, though abstract, represents overlapping hemp leaves.

As a geometric motif asanoha has ‘no season’ so it can be worn throughout the year.

Asanoha can be combined with other seasonal motifs including ume and kikko, or feature as the primary element of the design. In ancient Japan, hemp, along with ramie, linden, elm, wisteria and mulberry, were used for making clothing, fibers and paper.

Kei with hemp fibre
fibre, spindle and waste hemp used to weave rougher fabrics

The wives of merchants would wear it, to bring good fortune to the wearer. Because hemp was known for its rapid growth, the pattern was often used for clothes of newborn children.

“…[p]arents hoped that infants wearing it would develop with the vigor and toughness of the hemp plant.” The Book of Japanese Design, Kyusaburo Kaiyama.

6 x diamond construction of asanoha…patterns within patterns within patterns…

Special thanks to Kei of Gallery Kei, Kyoto, who was able to show me the different forms of hemp, ramie and linden fibre as well as the traditional techniques, weavings and fabrics. And a big thank you to Carl for helping me to post blogs again while I am in China!

Yes I am in Beijing now on my way to Shanghai! So much to share about these amazing places!

The mountain area of Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture is well known for its diverse variety of trees. Hakone Yosegi-Zaiku uses these rich woods to produce complex geometric patterns. Yosegi-Zaiku means yose = collect, put together; gi = wood (to make) zai = small, sensitive: ku = work.

Thin wood pieces are combined as a surface, or assembled using solid wood to form the patterns. The pieces are glued together into basic units and then cut and placed together to make a continuous pattern. Many different types of functional and decorative objects are made using this technique including boxes, vessels and drawers. The ones I find intriguing are the vessels made using solid wood lengths turned to reveal the pattern of the wood.

Yosegi dates from the 18th Century but was only designated as a traditional Japanese craft in 1984 in the areas of Odawara and Hakone. Different woods are placed adjacent to each other to give the patterns further depth and complexity. Some of these include:

White – aohada, spindle tree, dogwood
Yellow – nigaki, wax tree, lacquer tree
Light brown – Japanese pagoda tree, cherry tree, zelkova tree
Dark Brown – keyaki-jindai
Grey – honoki (magnolia hypoleuca)
Black – katsura-jindai

There are many patterns made alone or in combination and include rokkaku-asanoha (hexagons of hemp leaves), hishi-seigaiha (diamonds resembling the sea and waves) and one of my favourites ran-yosegi (ran = random).

After my meeting with Ubushina I headed back to Shinjuku. It started to rain pretty heavily so I dashed into Tokyu Hands, at Time Square Building. Wow! So many things; raw materials perspex, metal, wood, paper: and then of course the products: a personalised banana carrier, sumo wrestler wigs, crazy kids toys; anything, everything you could ever need or dream of.

It was here that I found the Australian designed makedo. As the name suggests the system of re-usable connectors encourages people to ‘make do’ or create from the simple things around them. The creations are endless and inspirational; geodesic domes, animals and creatures, costumes, and environments…

I have been following the development of makedo and Paul Justin, the designer, for a few years. I first heard of his work through the Springboard Entrepreneurship Programme; initiated by The Australian Design Unit. Paul and I joined a shortlist of 100 Australian designers to undertake Stage 01 of the programme. It aimed to equip designers with the necessary entrepreneurial skills to succeed at undertaking/sustaining a design business. Paul went on to Stage 02; developing then launching makedo at the State of Design Festival 2009 in Melbourne, Australia.

Great to stumble across an innovative Australian product abroad! Check out makedo and all of the imaginative things that have been made using the system. Also read an insightful interview by Simone LeAmon with Paul Justin on the development of makedo at How We Create?