Guard in the Arsenal
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There are sixteen of them. They stand at attention, grouped on a small square by the marina between two watchtowers. When fog envelops over the River Thames, they look alive from afar. These are sculptures of Peter Burke - cast in 188 cm male figures - titled Assembly. They look as if the artist created each of them from four foundry molds, but forgetting when welding the last, complete silhouette of the quarter. Thus, he gave viewers the opportunity to penetrate the interior of the figure, explore the relationship between its cover and the non-existent, empty "body". Burke, before he began his sculpting studies, had an apprenticeship in aircraft engine production at Rolls Royce. This industrial experience reveals in a specific way the creation of a human figure composed of repetitive - like prefabricated - segments that look like casting forms. This became the hallmark of Burke, who is more intrigued by the negative, and thus the mold for casting, than its filling.

The sculptures were created in 2005 as part of the extensive revitalization of The Royal Arsenal Woolwich, i.e. the area of ​​former artillery armament factories, founded in the 17th century on the River Thames, several kilometers from Greenwich. The military history of Woolwich dates back to the early 16th century, when Woolwich Dockyard was founded here - the royal shipyard, called The King’s Yard, in which Henry VIII ordered to build the famous flagship commonly known as The Great Harry. Later, areas adjacent to the docks (called Gun Wharf or Gun Yard) began to be used for storage of ammunition, transforming them in 1651–1671 into a key military location, known as Woolwich Warren, and later The Royal Arsenal. It was here that since the mid-seventeenth century, ammunition and guns were produced for the British Armed Forces, and new explosives were researched, guns constructed and upgraded. The Warwich Warren included The Royal Gun Factory, The Royal Carriage Department and The Royal Laboratory. Production was finally closed in 1967.

In the nineties of the last century, it was decided to revitalize these areas for residential and commercial purposes. Because some 18th-century arsenal buildings were designed by prominent and recognized English architects - John Vanbrugh, Nicholas Hawksmoor and James Wyatt - it was also a huge conservation challenge, how not to lose this unique heritage. We managed to achieve the right effect in a very balanced way, adapting old buildings and complementing them with new ones with proportions and details harmoniously harmonizing with historic matter. The works were mainly carried out by the development company Berkeley Homes. In addition to residential functions, buildings were adapted for commercial purposes, such as Dial Arch - the beautifully restored eighteenth-century armory was turned into a pub. The Guardhouse is today a renowned restaurant serving traditional dishes and locally brewed beers. The Greenwich Heritage Center was opened in the former The Royal Military Academy building in 2003, which was closed in January 2019, but is currently at the stage of reformulation of the function and perhaps a new location under the new Creative District program ( eventually renamed Woolwich Works). Thanks to this, the district will be more culturally and socially active. It is planned to adapt subsequent historic buildings to create a theater, concert hall, rehearsal rooms and an outdoor auditorium. But also without this artillery entourage with historic cannons standing on lawns, tree lined pedestrian paths, parks (like Wellington Park being the "cover" of the underground car park), promenades with a view of the River Thames, cozy restaurants and bars give this place a special charm.













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