In early 2014, designer Lara Bohinc acquired a commission by Kensington and Chelsea Council for an art project for Golborne Forum, which could include a piece of art or design to symbolise the area. Golborne Road and the surrounding area has long been home to an incredibly diverse community with Moroccan, Portuguese, Irish, Jewish and Afro Caribbean communities residing there, side by side for over a century. This public, sculptural bench has been commissioned to bring together the various features of this diverse part of London.
The bench reflects the vibrant mix of culture in the area, with five separate ribbons making up its structure, each one marginally different in shape and size, yet together they form one harmonious flowing body. This design signifies the distinct yet equal communities working and living closely together. The practical art piece is also titled “Friendship Bench” after many schools adopting benches as part of an anti-bullying concept; so that children can use benches to welcome new friendship.
The location of this art piece, in the heart of Golborne, is important due to the surrounding communities but also to the materials. The cast concrete echoes Ernó Goldfinger’s brutalist architectural landmark Trellick Tower, whilst the brass ribbon is an ode to the Moroccan community whose widespread use of the material is well-known. Taking over a year to make, the “Friendship Bench” had a challenging manufacture due to the complex doubling of curves in its form, and having 10 separate moulds for each individual ribbon. The bench measures approximately 420 cm in length, a total depth of 91 cm and a maximum height of 70 cm. The seating area is 49 cm deep, with a height of 45 cm. The materials used are cast concrete and brass.
The following year, The Forum requested that the bench also be in memory of local activist Susie Parsons, who died suddenly in 2015, after a lifetime spent working to improve conditions for women and others both locally, and further afield.