For Billie's medium project she focused on the Engineer's House located on Riverside adjacent to the main building of the museum. Built in 1898 to house the engineer for the Pumping Station, the beautiful Victorian house had sadly fallen into disuse and disrepair and was damaged a few years ago in a fire. Now, after nearly 50 years, it is being reunited with the museum, the garden will be reclaimed and we at the museum will create an exciting new space for exhibitions research, and a community hub. Linking to her smaller project, Billie was interested again in the reclaiming of a damaged and neglected building. There is a 1220 x 1900 mm hole in the foundations of the building, where a mattress had caught fire and burnt through the floor. This hole, along with the smoke stained walls caused by the fire, formed the inspiration behind Billie's idea for a community smokehouse.
Billie wanted to turn the troubled recent history of the Engineer's House on its head, by creating an inclusive and positive space which would employ local homeless people and teach the local community to smoke food in her smokehouse. She drew on the Japanese philosophy of Kintsugi, as in her small project, whereby broken pottery is re-made retaining the areas where it had previously been damaged. By reclaiming the smoke as a positive for her design, she wanted the activity of the community smoking their own food in her smokehouse to be the 'gold' which welds the broken parts back together, healing the wounded space. Below is her design for the smokehouse, as well as a photograph from the interior of the Engineer's House which was damaged in a fire.
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