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MAY 2020 NEWS: ACE COVID19 FUNDING!

Really proud to be working with @artslaolam on their @artscouncilofengland funded socially distanced programme #betweenspaces #lockeddownbutjumping #letscreate.  We will be working with the Munnings Museum in Dedham and the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty to design a bench installation for the Museum gardens in collaboration with the Museum’s stakeholders and the East Bergholt Equality and Diversity Committee.  I will then hand-make the resulting design (with metalwork by Danny Sharp of Blunt Fabrications) using storm-felled English oak from Ipswich’s parks (supplied by the fantastic Greenways Nature Group).  The bench will reference or commemorate in some way the impact of COVID19 on the local community.  Follow us on social media for more details coming soon.

@munnings_art_museum

@bluntfabrications

@greenwaysproject

www.dedhamvalestourvalley.org

@artslaolamArts La'Olam Full Logo Green on White (1).jpg

@artscouncilofenglandlottery_Logo_Black RGB.jpg

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I am Tim Germain and I have been making furniture now for over 22 years. Over that time, I have been commissioned to make a number of large benches for play areas, parks and the like. In each case, I did what I do, which is to make something original, different, site-specific, unique….. using local, storm-felled English oak to minimize the carbon footprint and galvanized steel legs to ensure long …..very long….. longevity.

And since then, people have been stopping me and saying “I sat on one of your benches”….. people seem to like them, possibly because of the novelty factor, possibly because they are more comfortable, possibly because they are different.

Then two years ago, I did some work for Quay Place, Suffolk MIND’s beautiful new heritage and wellbeing centre on Ipswich docks. They loved what I made for them, and so, I explained my vision for The Bench Project. The vision was to make “destination benches” in key hub locations, encouraging people to sit and linger a little longer in the outdoors. I wanted to design the benches in collaboration with local community groups to ensure every bench was different and to get the locals to buy in to their bench. The benches would be shapely so as to offer the opportunity for the sitter downers to catch each other’s eyes and perhaps share a smile, or even start up a conversation! Some of the “benches” however would, in fact, be chairs for those weary walkers who need a rest on the way home from the shops but really don’t want to take the risk of some chirpy chappy striking up a conversation. We’re all different and so are our needs.

And Suffolk MIND started explaining what wellbeing is. They explained how important it is for people to spend a little more time out of doors. But they also told me how lonely some people are and how a chance natter with a stranger on a bench may, for some, be their only interaction with another human being in their entire day.

Suffolk Mind’s vision is to make Suffolk the best place in THE WORLD to talk about and take care of our mental wellbeing and they see my benches being the tangible embodiment of that aspiration, first in Ipswich, where both I and Suffolk MIND are based, but then……. further afield.

And how great it would be if Ipswich had a series of 12 beautiful destination benches in key hub locations around our town, each one inspired by one of Suffolk MIND’s 12 emotional needs… and just imagine how fantastic it would be if Ipswich became famous for its benches.

And so The Bench Project was born.

And then we discovered the research. To be honest, we had always assumed that we would find plenty of research proving that good quality urban green spaces are important contributors to wellbeing and so it proved. What we didn’t expect to find, however, was recent, high-quality, independent, scientific research on the power of benches, too. Who knew?

  • MIND