AAJ Press
Art & Public Space, Gardens

Gabriel Orozco. Garden, 2016. South London Gallery



The South London Gallery (SLG) opens a new permanent garden on October 1st, designed by Gabriel Orozco, and created over the past two years with support from 6a architects and horticulturists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It introduces a new, planted entrance to the garden for residents of Sceaux Gardens housing estate, where the SLG has run art programmes for a number of years. It will be open to the public every weekend and used by invited groups during the week. An exhibition of working drawings and a film showing the transformation of the garden over the past year will be shown from 1 October 2016 – 8 January 2017.

Much of Orozco’s work stems from his idiosyncratic observations of contemporary urban environments, spanning sculpture, drawing, photography and video, to reveal poetry in unexpected locations or the often playful combination of everyday objects.

The invitation to create a garden at the SLG as a permanent art work presented a unique opportunity to extend my work into new territory. From my first visit I was impressed by the SLG’s commitment to its local community and neighbourhood and intrigued by the relationship between the garden space and its different audiences, and the idea of creating something which could provide an inspiring platform for all of them. I started to think about various geometries emerging from the architecture surrounding the space and how they might be re-integrated into it as the basis of a design. It has been a fascinating process working directly with the gallery, architects and horticulturalists to develop the plans for the work which I am excited to see become a reality.” Gabriel Orozco

slg-gardenOrozco has never before designed a garden, but embraced the challenge of transforming a paved area of land at the back of the SLG’s main building into a sculptural garden. Playing on the idea of an urban ruin, the garden will evolve to become rambling and overgrown with different grasses, low level creepers and fragrant plants. The choice of materials was drawn from the language of the gallery’s Victorian building and includes bricks from the newly opened up rear facade. The recurrence of circles in his work, is carried through to his design for the garden, with a geometry of intertwining circles york stone bricks. The various levels and spaces for sitting, eating, playing or showing work by other artists provide for the multiple activities of the garden.

6a architects designed the South London Gallery expansion into a neighbouring house and new Clore education space in 2010, and are working on the renovation of a new SLG space at the former Peckham Road Fire Station, due to open in 2018. They are currently working on an expansion of Milton Keynes Gallery.

Raising the funds to realise the garden has taken two years. Thanks to Arts Council England, Art Fund, Marian Goodman Gallery, Outset Young Production Fund, Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, Edwin Fox Foundation, The Henry Moore Foundation, Southwark Council’s ‘Cleaner Greener Safer’ programme, The Ampersand Foundation, Finnis Scott Foundation, The London Community Foundation, The Panton Trust, Vicky Hughes, Catherine Petitgas and other donors.

South London Gallery, 
65-67 Peckham Road, London, SE5 8UH

Open Tuesday–Sunday 11–6pm, except Wednesdays and the last Friday of the month until 9pm. Closed Mondays. Admission is free.

images: Gabriel Orozco, Garden, 2016 South London Gallery, photo: Andy Stagg


About jeh

Jeremy Hunt is Director of the AAJ Press (Art & Architecture Journal / Press) – a writer and consultant on art and public space


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