This short video contains a series of moments in which research students and staff from the University of Brighton shared together within the framework of the BRIDGE project.
As part of the BRIDGE project on the 17th of June 2013, students and staff of the University of Brighton visited Diamond Fibres Ltd, "The Worsted Spinners in the South-East". Diamond Fibres works exclusively with wool in it's natural colour, and provides a bespoke service of carding, spinning, and yarn plying for keepers of small sheep flocks, hand-spinners, felters and knitters. The charisma of this enterprise with customers worldwide, not only relies on the 16th century barn that stores the fleeces, or all the original machines rescued from closed down northern mills, but also for the vital and passionate knowledge that Roger Mobsby keeps alive every day with his business. For the BRIDGE project at University of Brighton, Diamond Fibres Ltd is a fine example of green economy and local entrepreneurship.
This project started with a one-week summer workshop in the College of Arts and Humanities, involving students from Design and Craft, Interior Architecture, Textiles and Graphic Design. With an opportunity to showcase the work of the BRIDGE Interreg project at Bentley Woodfair, we decided to create a pavilion from green ash milled to 2.4m planks by Copford Farm Sawmill - celebrating the versatility of the material and making reference to the standard dimension of ubiquitous manufactured boards. Although ash is not best suited to outdoor structures, at least the scale of the structure would attract attention!
After a week of experimenting with form and construction we set aside one week in September to build the pavilion, from start to finish. With a fresh supply of ash from Copford, six coppice poles from Flimwell and our own hand made hemp rope, the majority of processing was undertaken by student volunteers – making use of an array of techniques developed or invented during the summer workshop.
The BRIDGE Interreg project funding is to support and develop green economies. One of our strategies is to highlight the value of using locally sourced, sustainable materials. Both ash and hemp are naturally suited to the growing conditions within the Interreg regions of South East England and North East France, but we believe ash is an undervalued species. In comparison with oak, English ash will yield much more useable material from the tree but commands half the price. Fit for a great variety of applications and possibilities to work with its paleness or with the addition of colour, yet it is seldom grown for commercial benefit. The potential for devastation of ash woodlands through Chalara fraxinea may well result in a lot of tree felling, we hope the consequence is not cheaper wood fuel but a resurgence of interest in the purposeful utilisation of our own natural, renewable and carbon neutral resources.
Many thanks to all the students who volunteered their time during the summer vacation, without whom this project would definitely not have been realised.