NOW Gallery

The People’s Brick Company Something & Son

The last Brick Making day September 3rd is now fully booked.

Come and make a Peninsula brick. On 24th June a new communal artwork commission, The People’s Brick Company, will debut at NOW Gallery on Greenwich Peninsula. Created by the arts and architecture practice Something & Son, commissioned as the third NOW Gallery design exhibition, Londoners are encouraged to make their own mark on this new swathe of London by diving in and digging up a clay ‘quarry’ located on the Peninsula to make their own bricks.

The clay will be brought back to the NOW gallery, moulded into a unique brick and stamped with the initials of the maker. The ‘Peninsula bricks’ will be left to air dry on a large rack in the gallery over the summer, forming a constantly evolving display- a production line of thousands of handmade bricks. The end products will be used to construct a large kiln firing them all in one go in a public celebration on 17th September. Once fired, the bricks will be made into a permanent folly, serving as a reminder that architecture can be simple and inclusive.

The People’s Brick Company looks to reveal the modest yet important beginnings of Greenwich Peninsula. In the early 19th century the Peninsula was primarily used as a brickfield site to facilitate local land development with the construction of the first brick buildings in the area. Through a simple combination of fire, mud and sweat, brick making was a cheap and hands-on method of creating beautiful architecture. The installation will invite visitors to use the same vernacular architectural processes used in the past by providing the opportunity for people to quarry the clay, mould the clay into bricks, dry the brick and finally fire all the individual bricks in a large kiln at the end of the summer.

The project embraces its location and the huge construction work happening on the Peninsula, with the design using the waste timber from the building works to create the drying rack and tables. The drying rack is designed to use no nails or screws in its construction; instead lap joints allow each piece of timber to slot together. At the end of the project the rack will be dismantled with the timber used to fire the bricks.

As the built Peninsula emerges, the clay bricks will act as a monument highlighting the area’s humble and important beginnings that allowed for people to construct its first brick buildings. It offers Londoners an opportunity to get their hands stuck into the humble substance that made London into the world’s largest ever city in the 19th century. In a culture in which the production and origins of goods are becoming increasingly complex and exclusive Something & Son is addressing a wish to return to the roots of our cities and to participate in the making of things.

“As the Peninsula continues to be developed in line with present-day needs, the clay bricks will act as a testament to the Peninsula’s down-to-earth foundations. NOW Gallery is proud to present an interactive work by Something & Son, which is open to all. A simple process which reflects on a larger state of being a part of a growing city.” Jemima Burrill, NOW Gallery Curator.

The project is open from 24th June to 18th September. Visitors will be able to participate in The People’s Brick Company every weekend from 25th June to September 3rd. The project will end with a mass firing of the bricks on 17th September and a People’s Picnic for all those who have made a brick in Peninsula Garden.

The last Brick Making day September 3rd is now fully booked.

The NOW Gallery at Greenwich Peninsula (North Greenwich Underground).

Please see the below calendar for opening times. Advance booking not required. Please contact [email protected] 0203 770 2212 for large groups.

About Something & Son

Something & Son is a London based practice founded by Andy Merritt and Paul Smyth working across art, design and architecture. Their work is rooted in an inquisitiveness and experimentation, spanning major cities internationally. It reflects their varied backgrounds and shared passion for socially driven and environmental projects that tackle the challenges of our time.

A keenness to collaborate has led the team to work alongside many different professions including swift experts, mushroom men, scrapyard merchants, farmers, horticulturalists, scientists and sociologists in the realisation of their projects.

Current projects include Palms Palace, the design of a new high street of shops for Afro-Caribbean hair and beauty businesses in Peckham; Gefail yr Ynys, the renovation of a building and creation a communal forge in the Wales; 99p Lecture, a lecture theatre come market stall in Loughborough, COAL, a contemporary jewellery shop that promotes the issues of climate change through consumerism; and Ek-Bic Ye-Ic, an indoor productive landscape in the centre of Istanbul, Turkey. Andy and Paul are also co-founders of Makerversity a making learning space at Somerset House and will be opening a new second space in Amsterdam in 2016.

Within the last five years Something & Son have worked with local authorities, the Tate Modern,Victoria & Albert Museum, Manchester International Festival, Gwangju Design Biennale (South Korea), Arts Council Wales, Milan Design Week, Create Festival, the Barbican, Artangel, London Festival of Architecture, Folkestone Art Triennial, Somerset House Trust, Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, the Wellcome Collection and Istanbul Design Biennale. Recent lectures, talks and workshop have included the Serpentine Gallery, Kunst-Werke (Berlin), the Science Museum Dana Centre, Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute (Zurich), Institute of Contemporary Art, the Barbican, SALT (Istanbul) and the Victoria & Albert Museum.

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