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Art Works: Mary Preston

7 July 17 words: Mary Preston

The Nottingham Trent University graduate on her Laminar Flow bench...

I specialise in contemporary furniture, recycled plastic and plywood, and this is a sustainable, recycled plastic bench that incorporates planting and growth. Its design has a sliced form with “spacer” discs of material sandwiched in between each slice, to build up the piece. It was really important for me to make something that was sustainable and recycled; I want to encourage green spaces within built-up environments.

After making initial drawings and paintings of water and its movement, I translated the images into computer-aided design software (McNeel Rhino) and the form for the bench was built up from that. It was then waterjet cut in the Maudsley building at NTU and the slices and spacers were put together using stainless steel rods to give the piece strength and structure.

For my degree-show project, I wanted to have a client and a brief to work to so, after speaking to other clients, I decided on NTU. After applying to the NTSU Green Leaders project, I was funded to make the bench by the NTU environmental team. This enabled me to make the bench full scale, and it will remain at NTU for many years to come.

Since the bench was going to belong to NTU, I decided it should have a design that would link it together with the city, so that’s when the idea of pathing the River Trent came about. I drew, stretched and manipulated a part of the river so that it could become a back rest design for the piece.

It took ten hours of waterjet cutting, but the design and development process began in September. I made it between the Maudsley and Bonnington buildings at NTU, and it has been my main focus for the past eight months.

I started my degree in fine art, but wanted to learn more making and design skills so transferred to decorative arts during my first year. I settled on furniture design at the end of second year and it grew from there; I began developing a range of other concept pieces in chairs and coffee tables, using the same sliced format as the bench.

Given the time, I would love to continue designing bespoke contemporary furniture, and design gardens for urban areas to promote green spaces.

Catch Mary Preston’s work at the NTU Decorative Arts Degree Show, Newton Building, Saturday 3 – Saturday 10 June.

Nottingham Trent University website 

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