Celebrating CB Arts

Planit was delighted to welcome long-term friend and collaborator Chris Brammall to the studio today. Chris is dedicated to the creation of the highest quality sculptural and architectural metalwork. He is a fantastic exemplar of a creator and designer who also delivers and manufactures.

Chris set up his business straight out of college, 25 years ago, expanding from a small blacksmith’s workshop with aspirations of public realm works, to a 16-strong team of skilled metalwork specialists with a purpose-built studio in Ulverston. The studio recently changed its name to CB Arts to form a broader umbrella through which to bring forward other designers and craftsmen. It was a pleasure to see how many Planit-IE schemes were featured as Chris took us through projects that have been pivotal on his journey to become an established studio that is now in a position to help other artists, designers and makers forge careers in this field. 

It was a pleasure to see St Petersfield totem markers, which represent our practices’ first collaboration, looking as fresh and relevant today in creating a sense of place. The deep relief text of Leopold Square’s signage and striking Sadler’s Yard totems are well known to all within the studio, but not everyone was aware that professional mountain bike rider Danny MacAskill was the first to successfully ride a full loop of the stainless steel lined full-pipe at Manchester’s Velopark.

The enduring appeal of Brockhole Jetty is testament to the understated and site-specific design of this purpose-built landing facility on Lake Windermere. Chris drew on his local contacts, taking a fresh approach that reduced the 119 Engineer-proposed piles to only 19. Below deck structure, wrapping the jetty around trees and construction using air-spades further protected the sensitive waterside woodland. This project was a big step for the company in terms of acting as a contractor; drawing on their design capabilities to adapt proposals as roots and obstacles were encountered during the build.

Current Planit-IE projects with CB Arts include Corten benches and bollards at Kirkstall Forge. The studio is currently looking at new processes to give the appearance of Corten without the transfer of colour and run-off. This will counteract problems associated with wind-blown coloured water from taller totems extending across paving, eliminating the need for sacrificial surrounds in the immediate proximity of furniture or extended curing periods.

Other work includes interventions along scenic cross-country routes, ‘painting’ with mixed metals and finishes, and sculptural pieces by Stephen Broadbent including ‘The Shell’ as part of Wyre’s Mythic Coast, and Sean Scully works for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Whether fabricating pieces by other artists, or creating his own designs, Chris Brammall’s work is layered, with stories behind them that are not always readily apparent.

Experimentation and the development of finishes is apparent throughout the portfolio and Chris’s conversation. Whilst a blackened finish can deaden appearance after forging, Chris prefers to develop finishes that retain the natural feel of metalwork over time. He recognises that waiting for finishes to develop over time is not always desirable, so the studio has undertaken lots of work with non-ferrous bronze, stainless, aluminium… materials to enhance and maintain surface appearance. This encompasses skilled patination capabilities, traditional Liver Salt bronze finishes and glass bead blasting to give brushed stainless steel a smoother surface and thus reduce build-up of dirt. At the other end of the spectrum, the accumulation of barnacles across the marine grade stainless steel only adds to visual and textural appeal of ‘The Shell’ as it is inundated by the tide each day.

Chris’s presentation formed part of Planit-IE’s Rise and Shine sessions, which take place weekly over breakfast in our Altrincham Studio.