Little Callow Mound, Willow Lake, Newton Lee’s, Buckinghamshire, MK3 5AY
Material Composition: Handmade brick, glazed brick, hand painted architectural tile
Scale: 2.8 x 5 x 6.5 m
Architectural Drawing: Scabal
Structural Engineering: Atelier One
Construction: Sutton Construction
Brick Production: HG Matthews
Tiles Production: Darwen Terracotta
Alphonso’s longest wall incorporates a blue and white hand painted image on tile, flattening past and present with pictorial reference to local narratives. Walking through the archway a second textural flavour meets you, a wall created from cut brick slips in which a geometric fish repeat and glazed eyes glisten. Triangular in plan Alphonso’s form is guided by its site-in-space, and by the way in which its temporary inhabitants or passers-by discover it, occupy or play around it. Affording a seated view looking southwest across Willow Lake, the structure incorporates an arched walkway through its centre, replete with glazed tiled ceiling.
Alphonso is named in honour of the skilled migrant brick workers who came to Buckinghamshire from Italy in the early 20th century. The structure has been set out brick-by-brick: a careful curation the Flemish-bond brickwork together with the tiling; drawing and commissioning of 350 bespoke bricks in 18 types required to achieve the complex geometry. The bricks themselves were produced by nearby traditional brickmakers H G Matthews: made from clay – dug, shaped and fired by wood on their historic family site. Darwen Terracotta welcomed the artist to their works in Blackburn where the tiles were painted and fired.
The work was commissioned by Milton Keynes Council and funded through Section 106 money.