Sensations and History: A Sensory Trail of Kensington

The Sensory Trail | Sunday 19 August 2018 

By Andrew Mashigo and Lynn Cox

Our summer 2018 event, Sensations and History: A Sensory Trail of Kensington, was a walk exploring some heritage and historical sites in Kensington, revealing interesting facts and trivia of selected parts of High Street Kensington and Kensington Gardens while exploring their physical and aural features. This tour, on Sunday 19th of August and for visually impaired or blind people, started at High Street Kensington station, stopping at St Mary Abbots Parish Church, the Palace Gates in Kensington Gardens, the Round Pond,  before concluding at Serpentine Gallery’s Serpentine Pavilion.

Map of Kensington

Image: Aerial map of High Street Kensington and Kensington Gardens.
Credit: Google Maps

So, what is a Sensory Trail? A sensory trail is a tour that provides a series of experiences along a route designed to engage our senses and collectively immerse participants in a multi-sensory journey. Our focus on this sensory trail was to explore and share a journey that potentially creates moments and movements. We purposely designed the walk to take us through public buildings, the park, and around art installations, with the knowledge that a montage of perspectives and responses will be created.

This Sensory trail was also an opportunity to listen, touch, and smell our environment more intently, to encourage physical interaction with the environment, and to tell stories that help build memories and make connections.

The Sensory Experience

High Street Kensington Station

Our first stop was the tactile map of Kensington High Street, installed in the hallway of High Street Kensington station. This was the first station on Kensington High Street, constructed in 1867. The station was then demolished in 1906 and rebuilt complete with a shopping arcade. Kensington Arcade, currently with 15 stores, is the entrance to the station.

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A Visually Impaired participant touches the tactile map of Kensington High Street.
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The tactile map of Kensington High Street, for sight and touch, uses colour-coding, raised letters, symbols and braille to identify buildings, roads, open spaces and bus stops along Kensington High Street.

Images: Above are two images of the tactile map installed in High Street Kensington Station, installed by The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC).

Image description: The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, working with Guide Dogs for the Blind and the Royal National Institute for the Blind, produced this robust three-dimensional map featuring colour-coding, raised letters, symbols and braille. The raised letters and braille are finished in grey colour, the park and open spaces are depicted in green colour, the buildings in purple, the roads in dark blue and bus stops are marked with round yellow symbols.

This tactile map provided a lot of discussion points. The first one was that no one seemed to know that the tactile map had been installed in the station. The tactile map is a valuable interpretation tool for both visually impaired and sighted users but does not seem to have much use. It was also felt that been tucked away in the corner of the station hall made it difficult to locate. A final observation was that the area was not well-lit meaning a visually impaired (VI) person with some vision will struggle to read and use the map visually.

Other than that, everyone felt this new map will help visually-impaired users, including those with guide dogs, people in wheelchairs and other visitors, to map their way around Kensington High Street.

Sensory Experience: Sometimes the obvious only becomes clear when we pay attention to things around us. The sound of the ticket gates swinging open and shut created an interesting and unique beat and rhythm, sometimes sounding like beats to a rock song. At other times, it felt you could hear the two-step beats to a marching band.

The synchronised sound of the tickets beeping seconds before the gates swing open and shut created an interesting melody, although sometimes jarring, and at other times sounding chaotic, especially at moments when there are multiple users.

Leaving the station and out of the Kensington Arcade, we walked past Ben’s Cookies and then Wasabi, experiencing contrasting scents. The cookies created a waft of sweet smells, the smell of chocolate, while near the exit of the station, the cooked dishes created the savoury smell of stews and seasoning. Both scents were quite pleasant and inviting, and reminded someone of grandma’s Christmas dinners.

St Mary Abbots Parish Church

St Mary Abbots Parish Church was built in 1872 by Gilbert Scott. Until the early 19th century, St Mary Abbots was the only church in Kensington.

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Participants walking through St Mary Abbots Parish Church grounds from the west entrance.
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Participants viewing the external wall of St Mary Abbots Parish Church, with a particular interest in the tombstones that have been interestingly embedded into the wall.

The current state of the church does not represent what Gilbert Scott left in 1872 but is instead the result of the repairs carried out with probably inferior materials following the bombing and burning-out of the church in WW2.

Some of the interesting features of the church’s Cathedral-like interior are the high Nave, Aisle and Transept roofs, the flat stone floor and the splendid historic timberwork used throughout. The magnificent wrought iron font is currently positioned in the corner near the west door. All around, we noticed the stone and mosaic materials, and the elegant stained glass windows.

St Mary Abbots Church entrance
Entrance to St Mary Abbots Church via the west entrance, using the great West Door.
The Font
The Font, standing near the West door, was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and presented to the church in 1881.

Images: The top image shows the entrance to St Mary Abbots Church via the west entrance, using the great west door.
The bottom image shows the font, a wrought iron structure installed into the roof. It was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and has a wrought-iron canopy, presented in 1881.

Although the nave and chancel roofs were destroyed and damage was done to stained glass and the organ during WW2, the main structure was not seriously harmed. There is a story that while the fire-fighters fought the blaze, an air raid warden played the organ to keep the water out of the pipes thus perhaps preventing more serious damage.

The Sensory Experience:

Walking through the church, you immediately sense the presence and ambience that transcends the physical. Some call it ethereal, saintly or heavenly, and I’d just like to call it the divine presence.

The timberwork used in the ceiling and the pews give the space a soft and subtle echo and creating a very immersive experience. Spoken words seem to float around as whispers, almost with an eerie charm. You only have to stay here for 5 minutes and you will definitely be taken by the tranquillity and majesty of the silence. Truly transcendental!

Interesting facts: Until the early 19th century, St Mary Abbots was the only church in Kensington. Many eminent parishioners included Sir Isaac Newton, Joseph Addison, William Wilberforce, George Canning, William Thackeray and Lord Macaulay.

The Palace Gates, Kensington Gardens.

Kensington Gardens covers 265 acres and was originally part of Hyde Park. The Gardens with their magnificent trees are the setting for Kensington Palace, the birthplace of Queen Victoria who lived there until she became queen in 1837.

Kensington Palace Gate
A close-up view of the Palace Gates, with bright golden floral designs against the black metal gate.
Kensington Palace Gates
Lynn shares some really interesting history of Kensington Gardens.

Some Interesting facts about Kensington Palace.

The Not So Good News: King George II didn’t get on well with his son, Prince Frederick, at one point having him banned from Kensington. When Frederick died after getting hit in the chest with a cricket ball, the news was delivered to George as he was playing cards. George’s response to his son’s death? “Good.”

It has a haunted Nursery: Like any good palace should be, Kensington has its fair share of ghosts. King George II is said to haunt the palace where he lived. Another is “Peter the Wild Boy”, whom George I brought back to Hanover after finding him living in the woods. It is thought that Peter suffered from a genetic condition known as Pitt-Hopkins and it is believed that he haunts the King’s staircase. Princess Sophia is another royal ghost in the palace. Apartment 1A, home to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as well as Prince George and Princess Charlotte, is rumoured to be one of the more haunted palaces in Kensington Palace.

It’s Rotten: A private road was built from Kensington to Hyde Park Corner that was wide enough for three-to-four carriages to ride abreast. Part of the road eventually became the major thoroughfare known as Rotten Row.

The Round Pond

The Round Pond is an ornamental lake in Kensington Gardens, London, in front of Kensington Palace. The pond was created in 1730 by George II as a fashionable addition to Kensington Gardens. It is approximately seven acres in extent, measuring approximately 200 by 150 metres. The pond is actually not round.

Sensory Trail Pix 7

Image description: The image shows some of the birds that reside in the pond.

The Round Pond is a haven for birds and contains various fish and also filled with a large variety of ducks, geese, swans and other birds all waiting to be fed by visitors. All around the birds enjoy the serene settings of the garden.

The Sensory Experience: The numbers of birds wading through the pond and flying around made the pond sometimes feel like a flying school for young birds. The cacophony of wings flapping and birds landing in the water was pretty interesting.

The Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine continues its exploration of public art, bringing new sculptures to Kensington Gardens since 2010. The latest sculptural commission is by artist Lee Ufan, installed outside the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens.

Lee Ufan. Relatum Stage
Lee Ufan sculpture, Relatum – Stage, outside Serpentine Gallery.

Image copyright: © Serpentine Gallery 2018

Lee Ufan sculpture 1
This is a reflection from the angled, mirrored steel sheets that make up this sculpture.
Lee Ufan sculpture 2
This outdoor sculpture can be touched so why not sit and become a participant in the sculptural installation, instead of just been an observer? And that’s what we did.

Lee Ufan’s minimalist works usually use only two materials – steel and stone – characteristic of the minimalist school of thought. Relatum – Stage is a philosophical term denoting things or events between which a relation exists. Comprised of two, angled, mirrored, steel sheets and two different-sized stones, It merges the natural and industrial in a poetic installation that reflects the surrounding environment of the Park.

Text: The Serpentine Gallery

The Sensory Experience: Ufan’s stones were sourced in Wales and this steel, mirrored sheet and stones sculpture are both smooth and rough, cool and hot, dull and reflective, and eerily steady and delicate.

Serpentine Pavilion 2018

Architect Frida Escobedo’s Serpentine Pavilion harnesses a subtle interplay of light, water and geometric form to create an atmospheric courtyard. The Pavilion is an enclosed courtyard, comprised of two rectangular volumes positioned at an angle.

Serpentine Pavilion 1
The lattice of cement roof tiles is supported by concealed metal rods. The tiles were cool to the touch, smooth and felt very solid to the touch.
Serpentine pavilion 2
The pond is cast into the Pavilion floor.
Ripples and shadows form an impressive part of the shallow pond as participants wade through gently
Ripples and shadows form an impressive part of the shallow pond as participants wade through gently.

Images: The top image shows the lattice of cement roof tiles supported by concealed metal rods.
The middle image shows the shallow pond.
The bottom image shows a VI and her companion walk in the shallow pond.

The Sensory Experience: Light is dispersed around this structure with an almost geometric consistency, a result of the layering of the lattice of cement roof tiles and the play and movement of light and shadow over the course of the day. The lattice seems like a trellis for the sun to drape its sunshine with, creating interesting shades in the process.

The ceiling also has the mirrored effect from reflective metal sheets installed onto it, leaving observers with a strange sense of the ground viewed from the top.

Tactile Paving, Exhibition Road.

Tactile pavings work in the same way as tactile delineators and are used as a system of surface indicators that can assist pedestrians who are visually impaired.

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The blistered pavings are tactile paving embedded into the road as surface indicators.
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The blisters in the truncated domes are textured to give better grip.

Originally pioneered for Japanese subways, tactile delineators were first designed by Seiichi Miyake in 1965 and introduced to Okayama city, Japan, in 1967. They have now become popular in Australia, the US, UK and Canada. It became called Hazard guide for Visually Impaired in 1985.

The blistered pavings work well as they are a safe road indicator and hazard warning. Tactile delineators are also directional guides and can be both concrete slabs or metal embedded in the road. Some tactile pavings are painted to add contrast, usually yellow as is used in train and tube stations, while some designs offer pavings that match the colour of the surrounding building.

The Sensory Experience: Blistered pavings or tactile delineators are very effective surface indicators, especially for visually impaired pedestrians. There have been reports that people with a spectrum of autism find them uncomfortable. They also don’t seem to work as well in shared spaces, especially when directional tactile delineators are integrated across tactile pavings. Research continues on how shared spaces can be made safer for VI’s.

Sensory Trail Pix 5

Image: The above image shows five VI participants and a companion at the conclusion of the Sensory Trail. Three other VI’s and two companions were unable to stay for the extended trail that went on for an additional hour beyond the advertised time.

Our Thank You’s
A special thank you to everyone who participated in this Sensory Trail and for all the very useful discussions and contributions. Thank you also to Merton Sports and Social club.

ACCESSIBILITY

All the buildings and heritage sites we explored had step-free entrances, and there was only ever one moment when we chose to use the three steps at the west entrance to St Mary Abbots Parish Church as we explored the great west door.

Guide Dogs and all assistance dogs are welcome on our Sensory Trails.

There were accessible restrooms at High Street Kensington Station, Kensington Gardens and Serpentine Pavilion, our final stop.

Large print guides of this trail are available on request.

TO CONTACT MAMOMI

Email: mamomi.initiative@yahoo.com

Mobile: 07956 946 571

Social Media

Twitter: @mamomi_i

Instagram: mamomi_i

LinkedIn: Mamomi Initiative

CREDITS

Facilitators: Andrew Mashigo and Lynn Cox

Large Print Guide Design and Print: MaMoMi

Copyright: Mamomi Initiative CIC 2018

Website: http://www.mamomiinitiative.com

#SensoryTrail #SensoryTrailKensington

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Featured

A Visit to ZSL London Zoo: Summer 2017

Tags: #LondonZoo #SummerOuting #social
Banner Image credit: Ryan Prince Art.

On Sunday 16 July, we went on our first group social visit to ZSL London Zoo and we were quite fortunate to have good weather throughout our 4 hour visit, except for very light showers right at the end of the day. We were keen for our VI’s, family and companions to have a memorable and fun day out, exploring some of the animal enclosures and visitor areas throughout the zoo. We also had the opportunity to check out some of the facilities including the shops, Amphitheatre and the Terrace Restaurant.

A view of the Penguin Beach. There are 3 penguins to the left of this photograph, all perching comfortably on the side of the beach. There is a outbuilding in the background, with 2 large trees close by. In the foreground is a view of the clear blue water.

Image: A view of the Penguin Beach.
Image credit: MaMoMi.

ZSL London Zoo

The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) was founded in 1826 and is an international scientific, conservation and educational charity whose mission is to promote and achieve the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats. Their groundbreaking science and active conservation projects are now in more than 50 countries and their two Zoos, ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Our Visit

From visiting the Land of the Lions, birds in the Snowdon Aviary, the giraffes in Into Africa, the Tiger Territory, Gorilla Kingdom, the Penguin Beach and a walk-through of the tropical birds enclosure that is called the Blackburn Pavilion, the zoo provided an intriguing space and ideal location for a group social visit. With over 20,166 animals (the official figure from 1st of January 2017) at ZSL London Zoo, there was a lot to view, experience, enjoy, have lots of conversations around and learn from.

Images, clockwise from top: Andrew giving a little intro on entry to the zoo; Lynn and Victoria have a chat; a view of the Tiger Territory through the protective glass; Camels feeding; the group listening to the Macaws as they are being fed; Devaki and our support team and family all stroking the goats in the Touch Zone; and Ramona and Jean with support team.
Image credit: Ryan Prince Art.

Admittedly, we did not expect to see all the animals but the time spent was just about right for us as we weaved around and negotiated so many outdoor spaces and indoor animal enclosures. It was an even more enjoyable day as the weather in London was quite nice, with only a few minutes of light drizzles observed near the end of our visit.

Access

It was great to see that the zoo had a lot of accessible areas, with places like the Land of the Lions and the Tiger Territory wheelchair friendly and with lifts. We also noted that walking around was quite easy with most of the paths made with tarmac. There were also several disabled toilets located around the zoo, and for our pitstop for lunch, we chose to use the toilets by the Terrace Restaurant.

There was a limited number of wheelchairs available for hire which can be booked in advance. Understandably, the zoo has a number of listed buildings like the penguin pool, which restricts the upgrade needed to make it physically accessible to wheelchair users and children.

Assistance dogs are not currently permitted inside ZSL London Zoo because some of their animals react negatively to the presence of dogs. The Zoo is working with Guide Dogs UK to resolve this and hope to be able to welcome guide dogs to certain areas of the zoo in the future.

Finally

This was an incredibly fun day and we’d recommend ZSL London Zoo as a viable place to visit. We shall be planning more group visits in the future, with a focus on specific animals, enclosures and sensory experiences.

Images: On the left are Jean and her companion; on the right is a group photograph with all VI’s, family, companions and MaMoMi support team.
Image credit: Ryan Prince Art.

Thank you to the staff at ZSL London Zoo, with a special mention of the Discovery and Learning department, and the Press Office.

London Zoo Tiger Territory

Image: The group walking into the Tiger Territory
Image credit: Ryan Prince Art

Andrew Mashigo
MaMoMi

Action Painting: A Musical Composition

“Action Painting” is a musical composition created in response to a painting from our 2016 Dialogue Beyond Sight Exhibition. This musical composition was done at the chamber orchestra, in Malaga, Spain, by music composer and orchestra conductor Mr. Antonio Moral Jurado, and reveals a process that mimics the relation and points of union between approaches to a pictorial work and approaches to a musical work.

Spanish artist Ismael Moga attended our collaborative exhibition, and was one of the many sighted artists who contributed immensely to the dialogue around cross-disciplinary practice with visually impaired and blind creative practitioners. His painting, AfterHere, was created during a workshop activity run by British artist Rachel Gadsden, who co-curated the exhibition.

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AfterHere, painting by Ismael Moga

Image: AfterHere, by Ismael Moga.

“Action Painting” uses reference points such as style, movement, speed, energy and all those elements that give surface and colour to the painting’s texture. It also uses as a starting point the musical work, idealisation and abstraction of the creative process in the creation of the watercolour painting “AfterHere”.

In this composition, Ismael was looking to create a framework for action, by channelling certain sounds and gestural impulses happening through the harmonic and temporal spaces, which may sometimes be limiting. “Its leads to the obtaining of certain timbral or tonal determinations and colour implications, a function of the alternation between themselves”, Ismael said.
Below is the musical composition ACTION PAINTING, by Mr Antonio Moral Jurado.

Credits:

Artist: Mr Ismael Moga.
Musical composition title: Action Painting.
Author: Mr Antonio Moral Jurado, 2017.Music commissioned by Mr. David García Carmona, Director of Chamber Orchestra of the CSM of Malaga, Spain.
Director of Orchestra: David García Carmona.

Dialogue Beyond Sight exhibition is a MaMoMi project supported by Arts Council England

LIGHT, SOUND AND THE ENVIRONMENT: A new Design Museum multisensory tour

The Design Museum have designed a new series of multisensory tours and the first one in the series is scheduled to hold on Saturday 11 July 2015.

This July multisensory tour, titled Light, Sound and the Environment, will explore how light and sound have been used to identify colour, and how we in turn respond to objects and items in the built environment.

Design Museum Tour. July 2015

The Design Museum continues to offer exhibition tours to its blind and visually impaired visitors, and this multisensory tour gives the opportunity to engage with objects from the museum’s Designs of the Year 2015 and Collection Lab.

Light, Sound and The Environment takes place on Saturday 11 July 2015, at 14:00.

To book on this tour, please call +44 (0)20 7940 8782. You can also view their website for more information at www.designmuseum.org

Tours are available free of charge, including museum entry, for groups of 2 – 6. Please call to discuss any specific needs.
The tours last approximately 1.5 hours and take place in the exhibition space.
Tours must be booked in advance.

Image and information used in collaboration with The Design Museum, London.

Access at the Design Museum, London.

The Design Museum, currently based in Shad Thames, London, recently started an Access programme with the goal of serving and opening-up its collection to visitors with disabilities. The current focus is with visually impaired and hearing impaired audience.

The Design Museum’s main focus is on exhibitions exploring mass production and new technologies, and has a unique collection that represents this ethos.

This collection helps us understand the world around us, investigating how design impacts our lives and also how the use of designed objects influences ongoing developments in design and manufacture.

As the wider landscape of ideas and debate continues to grow, it is great to see the collection at the Design Museum is now open to these discussions, while also looking at how design is relevant to people and the society.

The Touch tour of the Anglepoise lamp. Image used permission of Design Museum.

Access: 

This programme offers its visitors the opportunity to look at any one (or several) of the six design stories currently displayed, holding UK’s only collection devoted exclusively to modern and contemporary design and architecture.

On Sunday the 6th of October 2013, the first Touch tour took place. At this session, led by Andrew Mashigo and supported by Aimee Taylor, Design Museum Learning Officer, participants physically explored 4 objects in the permanent collection. 

Read Accessing the Design Museum blog, on Designerly learning, for the introduction to the Visitor Engagement programme at the Design Museum.

Process:

The Design Museum permanent collection is called Extraordinary Stories about Ordinary Things and it is within this collection that the Access programme will revolve around. We explored the Anglepoise lamp, British coins, Magno Radio and the Captivate light. The process of the touch tour allowed for us to view and explore the Anglepoise lamp, an iconic product first designed over 80 years ago by Automotive engineer George Carwardine. 

Mr Carwardine’s speciality was in vehicle suspension systems and that research eventually led him to develop a pre-tensioned spring, allowing the lamp to be moved in any direction while crucially keeping the lamp stable. This design feature gives the Anglepoise its unique profile.

Making actual object identification, identifying the various parts of the lamp and the uniqueness of its parts (springs, stand and lamp shade), the difference in the surfaces and temperature, its weight and materials all made the tactile experience a fun one. Plus the participants were able to share their valid views on this object and the others explored, and their value to our society today. All in all, a very fun and engaging tactile experience. 

Contact

To book on these bi-monthly tours, please email Aimee via aimee@designmuseum.org

The next tour is scheduled for Sunday 1 December.