The Cornerstone is a public collaboration art piece led by artist Austin Emery, which will solidify connections across the local community, London and beyond. Through this challenging time in history marked by divisive political and cultural happenings, we are bringing people together using art-making (stone carving) as a tool to enhance social cohesion, having fun and be creatively productive together!
Pieces of stone, hand-carved by children and adult participants from Whites Grounds Estate, Bermondsey Street and the wider community during open public workshops, will be permanently assembled into this totemic monument along side stone fragments of historic London including Southwark Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament and even bones from the River Thames. Together this will form a living art heritage, connecting people across time, social and geographical boundaries. The work of yesterday’s stone masons will exist along side the contemporary work of today’s community.
What we'll deliver:
- A landmark sculptural monument
- Collective empowerment to the community in the broadest sense
- Enhanced social cohesion
- Ownership and pride over public space
- A collective sense of belonging and purpose
- The unique opportunity to create personal sense of heritage through stone carving
- Improved public space
- Equal opportunity for artistic engagement
- Removal of a boundary barrier fence and replace it with artwork
- Enriched connection to the culture, heritage and history of London
Why it's a great idea:
The Cornerstone brings people together through public artistic engagement, providing a sense of belonging and ownership. People form strong connections to each other, their neighbours and the wider community whilst making a major physical change to a public space.
Our project helps overcome the challenges of gentrification and the ever increasing wealth gap within inner city multi-cultural areas. By celebrating our diversity and creating opportunity for life-long established Londoners to work along side immigrant new-comers, we form bonds based on equality, mutual respect and positive partnerships.
The resulting empowerment improves the well-being and self-worth of the individuals and community as a whole.
This sculpture will exist through time beyond our lives into the future. The opportunity to feel connected to the creation and realisation of this heritage gives participants and pledge supporters a rare and profound chance to truly make their mark on London, 'set in stone'.
Steps to get it done:
- Assemblage of Sculpture to include all 100+ participant stone carvings! (Summer 2019)
- Site preparation including laying of foundation for Sculpture (September 2019)
- Transporting the Sculpture to location (September 2019)
- Installation of Sculpture on new foundation (September 2019)
- Integration of existing railing into Sculpture (September 2019)
- New railing detail integrating into existing railing (September 2019)
- Finishing details of Sculpture and fixing connection stones in-situ (October 2019)
- Fabricate & install plaque -project info & credits (October 2019)
- Unveiling the sculpture (October 2019 with official celebration September 2020)
This project follows the success of The Shared (2014), an award-winning sculpture which was created through a similar process by local artist/stone mason, Austin Emery, who has lived and worked closely with this community over the past 10 years. Working with the 'social fabric' of people, materials and space to create public art, telling stories stitched together with stone, which is often reclaimed and recycled, reinvigorating history and creating fresh heritage.
The Cornerstone is about the empowerment of people coming together to create a focal point right in the heart of the Bermondsey Street community...
'Working together, making a stone landmark, transforming the material, the space, ourselves and eachother... our physical and social reality.' (Lead artist, Austin Emery)