Rory Chisholm’s fascination with courtyards – like ‘a simple clearing in the woods’ – produced the pencil and ink drawing of Manchester that netted him 1st winner, practitioner
Rory Chisholm has a thing about courtyards, arguing that the typology has been developed for the last 10,000 years by a number of civilizations. Further back than that, in fact: ‘It’s easy to imagine that it comforted our ancestors to dwell in buildings that resembled a simple clearing in the woods,’ he tells us. But, he continues, it also has a new prescience: ‘It lends itself to passive ventilation, to positive mental health, even to social-distancing. This isn’t a coincidence; we discuss these concerns today, but they are fundamental to human civilisation.’
Chisholm’s pencil and ink rendering is a courtyard proposition for Manchester – a whole city centre quarter made up of small, medium and large scale courtyard houses, linked together by a community courtyard, all set within the walls of one of the city’s great Victorian courtyard factories; what he terms ‘an interwoven micro to macro courtyard design.’
The jury enjoyed the cinematic scope of the rendering and Chisholm’s methodology of handling it but it was Langlands & Bell who really championed it. Nikki Bell enjoyed its sense of the camera obscura: ‘You can look far, around and down – from the cityscape you can zoom into the detail. It has a strong narrative as a drawing.’ Bendict Langlands meanwhile thought it ‘very imaginative with a good sense of context.’ He revelled in the technique, adding: ‘It has a lot of detail and feeling but is actually quite free, even when zooming in.’ But all the judges appreciated its breadth and ambition as a drawing.
And, as with his limpid sketch of Decimus Burton’s Temperate House at Kew, which earned him the category second prize in 2018, it’s the fluidity of his pencil and ink style that secured him first prize here. Water and ink express how the building feels to us, as perceived by the body,’ says Chisholm. ‘This design is based on the architecture of the primal, of the body; and so the ink shines brighter.’