The words most likely to spring to mind when considering Will Shannon’s work are ‘back to basics’, ‘traditional’ or ‘sustainable’ and his latest commission Homework, in partnership with Assemble, an architecture collective nominated for this year’s Turner Prize, is no exception.
Assemble's practice focuses primarily on the social needs of the areas in which they are working, often recycling and reusing materials as part of their collaborative projects. Coupled with Shannon, a designer and maker focusing on sustainable production, Assemble have further enhanced his focus on the relationship between making and community in a domestic setting.
Typical of Shannon’s previous work is Kiln House, commissioned as part of the Jerwood Makers Open in 2012, of which he was a finalist. Kiln House is a workshop designed for a fictional potter utilising locally sourced ‘raw’ clay as material for its roof tiles. His focus on sustainable design has also led him to deliver talks on ethical business and thrift at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle.
Shannon's new commission for Build Your Own at FACT is Homework, which will present the domestic space as a platform for constructing and experimenting. Shannon has so far been working on the commission through the implementation of a concrete casting factory in the backyard of a house on Cairns Street in Toxteth. The area is the target for the refurbishment of ten houses through the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust.
Working in collaboration with Assemble, Shannon has manufactured concrete fire surrounds and mantelpieces for these properties, using leftover brick and old roofing slates from the refurbishment. Shannon and Assemble have proposed the transformation of the ordinary houses into a series of workshop spaces which can be used to create bespoke furnishings for the home.
Examples of these workshops, alongside a full scale Yard Factory for concrete casting will be on display in Gallery 1 as part of Build Your Own from 4 June.