Posted Thursday 18 June 2020
Staff from Kingston School of Art are using their creative talents to remind the public of the potentially life-saving social distance rule in Kingston's parks.
Digital media technicians Pablo Grattoni and Sebastian Oglecki designed a 2 metre public safety stencil for Kingston Council, which depicts two people standing apart. This visual prompt serves to reinforce the government's public health message and will be seen by pedestrians, runners and cyclists as they pass through Kingston's green spaces.
The project came about when Kingston Council asked the University if it could help out by making the stencil, which would be spray-painted on various paths around Canbury Gardens and along the riverfront footpath along Portsmouth Road. Kingston School of Art's technical team, who have the design skills and machinery to do the job, quickly stepped forward to take up the challenge. Kingston Council already works closely with the University, and other community employers and organisations, as part of the borough-wide response to the coronavirus pandemic.
For Mr Grattoni and Mr Oglecki it was a straightforward project and one they both felt proud and excited to work on. Mr Grattoni, Kingston School of Art's Digital Media, Digital Making and hackSpace Manager said the project had been an ideal opportunity to do something practical to support the borough community. "Even such a simple project as this makes a huge difference. It means a lot to me that we can support the people of Kingston and, in a broader sense, speed up the time to get back to a normal way of living and working. I'm proud to contribute and the outcome shows that, even when working at a distance, we can help a good cause."
Like most of the University's staff, Mr Oglecki, Kingston School of Art's digital media and hackSpace technician, has been working from home throughout the lockdown period. "On the day we made the stencil I was already making a rare visit to campus to run an essential training workshop for staff. I was excited to make the most of my brief time being on-site to do something that benefited the wider community too. It was motivating to know I was able to do something likely to help speed up the process of coming back to normal life from lockdown."
The stencil production itself involved a two-part process: before the stencil became a reality, a 900 x 600mm design was created collaboratively by the technicians, which they made into a digital file, using Adobe Illustrator. Then, using the University's laser cutter, they produced a sharp outline in both Perspex and MDF. Using a laser cutter helped minimise material wastage.
Because the technicians wanted to make it user-friendly for council workers, who would be carrying out the spray-paint work, they divided the stencil into sections, making it easier to handle, which also reduced material wastage. The design team also created the stencil so it could be adapted into various forms for future use, if required. They hope the stencil might also end up being used by other borough councils, the NHS and government services.
Mr Ian Appleford, the University's health and safety manager, knew exactly who to approach when Kingston Council advised it needed support producing a stencil to reinforce the social distancing message. "I had no doubt our public-spirited, and creative, Kingston School of Art technicians would want to help," he said. "Kingston University staff have proven, throughout the pandemic, how willing they are to use their expertise for the good of the wider community and have been incredibly resourceful. The stencil is another example of the work they have been doing to make a real difference in this challenging period. Pulling together like this means we've made vital contributions to the community since the public health emergency first began."
Kingston Council Leader Caroline Kerr said the project was the latest example of how the close relationship between the local authority and the University was benefiting borough residents. "We were delighted to work together with Kingston University, combining our resources to reinforce the vital public messages that keep the local community safe," she said. "The creativity of Kingston School of Art's technicians has resulted in a visually striking 2 metre social distancing reminder used across some of our parks and green spaces, helping protect cyclists and pedestrians as the lockdown begins to lift."