Project: Animate Cinema & Leisure Complex
Location: Preston

Client: Preston City Council
Lead Architects: Leach Rhodes Walker

Contractors: Eric Wright Group

Developers: Maple Grove Developments

Artwork Budget: £TBC

Site Programme: 24 months
Service: Public Art Sub-Consultant
Artists: Bonnie Craig (Pattern Artist & Designer )

In March 2021, Preston City Council was awarded £20.9m from the Government’s national Towns Fund initiative, for the city Harris Quarter. It forms a unique part of the city centre undergoing a £200m investment programme to transform its historic buildings, sites and public realm into a diverse culture, leisure and employment offering. The development known as ‘Animate’ will provide an eight-screen cinema, 16-lane bowling alley with gaming zone, five family restaurant units, a street food hub, public realm, a competitive socialising unit and 164-space undercroft car park.

After the success of Wallace & Gromit (Wrong Trousers) Bench as part of the Harris Quarter Pop-Ups, project developers Maple Grove Developments, again commissioned Ian Banks as public art consultant to work on Animate. As such, Ian helped them solicit local pattern artist and designer Bonnie Craig to create a pattern for Animate’s metal façade cladding (which wraps the top third of the new leisure complex, forming a key feature in its design). Bonnie, who had recently completed glass artwork for the University of Central Lancashire’s student centre (again working with Ian), was appointed to the project and took her inspiration from Animate’s location, which is Tenterfield Street. Its name comes from the original ‘tenter fields’, where outdoor frames once held the woven fabrics, as part of the production process. The stretched fabric was held in place by tenterhooks, and the shape of these hooks was employed throughout the cladding design. The artwork designs ultimately proposed are based on undividual patterns of ‘tenterhooks’ set within Bonnies’ beautiful artistic interpretative grid of ‘tenterframes’.

Now almost fully pre-let, ‘Animate’ will host national leisure brands including Hollywood Bowl, ARC Cinemas, Zizzi, Cosmo, Las Iguanas and Loungers already signed up as tenants.

Bonnie’s beautiful patterning artworks (suggested provisional title: On Tenterhooks) were created with the artist working initially with Atoll’s assistance alongside client Maple Grove Developments, lead architects Leach Rhodes Walker Contractors Eric Wright Group and cladding sub contractors Contrasol.

Quoting Bonnie from Preston City Council’s formal press release: ” When asked to create designs that explored the area around the Animate site, I was intrigued by the interesting shape and name of Tenterfield Street, as well as the art-deco style design of Lancastria House on one corner of the street”.

I developed a simple shape based on the tenterhook and the street itself. The motif repeats over the metal panels in a grid pattern inspired by the windows, interior wall panels and stonework used in Lancastria House and aims to explore the idea of tension – created in both the tenter frames and the meaning of ‘on tenterhooks’ – and resolution/visual balance.”

More detail on Bonnie’s work can be seen on her webpage here.

Categories: Public Art

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