Civic Carpet - Ilford Forever 

Redbridge Council
Year: 2022-2023

The "Civic Carpet - Ilford Forever" is a distinctive granite artwork located in the heart of Ilford town centre, within the London Borough of Redbridge. This project began in 2021 and was brought to completion in 2023 with the installation of its second granite piece, "You Are Here," after spending a year and a half in storage. Commissioned by Redbridge Council, the creation of this public realm artwork was a deeply collaborative process, engaging local young people from Ilford through a series of workshops during the challenging times of the 2021 pandemic.

The design development unfolded over four engaging workshops held via Zoom and Google Jamboard, accommodating the participants' need to work from home due to pandemic restrictions. Limited by resources but not by creativity, these workshops were not about creating artwork directly for the final piece but rather about drawing out themes, ideas, and inspirations from the young participants. These discussions and drawings significantly influenced the final design of the artwork.

Each workshop was centered around a specific theme:

  • Affirmations: Understanding the desired public realm artwork through collective brainstorming.
  • Home: Exploring the concept of home and how its feeling could extend into the public realm, inspired by household art and materials like carpets, wallpaper, and quilts, as well as artists like William Morris.
  • Garden: Discussing gardens as public spaces, their decorative aspects, and their design connections to Persian carpets and the history of ornate gardens in England.
  • Tapestry for the Community: Delving into tapestry's meanings and uncovering local histories, including the story of Cranbrook Castle, a significant but largely forgotten local landmark.

The final design of the Civic Carpet integrates affirmations from the first workshop along with themes of pattern making, public carpets, colours, and local history discovered throughout the series. Elements from Cranbrook Castle were incorporated into the design, honouring this important piece of Ilford's heritage as determined by the workshop participants. The goal was to add character and identity to Ilford's town centre, creating a space for meeting and orientation.

Client: Redbridge Council
Photography: Abdul Muktadir
Stone supplier: BBS Natural Stone Specialists
Fabricator: Scribble Stone