Artists, designers and furniture makers Freshwest were appointed to design and make a set of bespoke external furniture for the new West Dorset District Council offices in Dorchester, Dorset.
The brief was to produce a functional artwork that respects and refers to the Roman heritage of the town and the site itself. Archaeologists were commissioned to survey the area before any building work could commence, and the new building has been alligned parallel to the old Roman city wall which is underground nearby. Freshwest met with Dorset County Council archaeologist Steve Wallis and visited Dorchester Museum as part of their initial research.
The artists proposed to make two substantial seats and a table in scorched oak, to be sited outside the main entrance to the new Council building. The forms of the furniture are derived from Roman black burnished pottery vessels found in Dorchester, and now on display in Dorchester Museum. Black burnished pottery has been found in Dorchester in quantities and it is thought that it was made in Dorchester for sale to the Roman army. The oak furniture was routed in layers to give the effect of pots turned on a wheel.
The artists worked with writer and historian Eugene Byrne to develop text relating to everyday life in Durnovaria (Roman Dorchester). The text is engraved into stainless steel rings embedded into the tops of the seating and table.