A new pavilion by Studio Weave is unveiled this month at St James’s Market, marking the culmination of an Arts Programme curated and delivered by Futurecity. The pavilion is the last in a series of public artworks commissioned as part of a £400m redevelopment of the area, which lies at a nexus between Regent Street, St James’s and Haymarket.
Futurecity brokered a collaboration between the site’s developers – The Crown Estate and Oxford Partners – and three artists and designers: David Thorpe, Studio Swine and Studio Weave. Between them, they have created a series of installations which juxtapose the locality’s past with its present, drawing on the area’s rich heritage and long established reputation for master craftsmanship, contemporary art and high-end retail.
David Thorpe, in what is his debut public installation, has created an embedded artwork for the Regent Street St James’s block of the redevelopment. The commission incorporates three large-scale exterior panels made from handmade encaustic tiles, which repeat a pattern inspired by the work of the 19th century arts and crafts bookbinder TJ Cobsen. Meanwhile, two interior pieces reference the intricate detail found in early 17th century fabrics. They are formed of Corian panels over 5 and 6ft high, enveloped in exquisite lattices of laser-cut leather.
Studio Swine’s commission for St James’s Market also pays tribute to the artisan, presenting four benches which allude to traditional trades that are still found in the area to this day. Inspiration for the benches – Shirt, Tie, Pipe and Shoe – came from delving into the local archives and working with heritage brands in the area. The bronze inlays on the Shoe bench are inspired by the shoemaker John Lobb’s extensive leather collection, whilst the folded legs of the Shirt bench echo the shirtmakers Turnball & Asser’s paper patterns.
The final commission of the Arts Programme – a free-standing Pavilion designed by Studio Weave, provides a space for exhibitions, events and public performances. Entitled The Safe Deposite, the installation knits into the cultural DNA of St James Market, referencing the motifs of Victorian safety deposit boxes that could formerly be found in the area. The interior ceiling of the pavilion is also covered in an ornate wheatsheaf design which alludes to the sacks of wheat historically used as currency and link to the barter and exchange of the old St James’s Market.
Delivered by the design and branding company dn&co, the pavilion’s opening exhibition is an illustrated portrayal of the 18th century broadside ballad The Handsome Butcher of St James’s Market, by the artist James Graham. The exhibition is open to the public Sunday to Monday 8am-7pm.