Sitting on the fence is our first art exhibition at Garden Wall which invites neighbours and people passing by to look over and see past the garden wall, opening up a structure which separates and shifting a private space into a public one.
Our launch was part of the Brockley Front Garden Sale on Sunday 13th September, in which we shared many interesting conversations with local residents and friendly visitors, considered the encounter of art in a garden and enjoyed the sunny weekend. It was great to witness the garden wall itself become a platform for viewing, talking and thinking. We are excited by how the sculpture garden ideology can grow into multiple sculpture gardens locally, to be curated and shared by many.
‘Sitting on the Fence’ will be on show until the end of September and will shift through different sculptural states before its ‘burial’ at the end of the exhibition.
The new exhibition contains a series of sculptures which map, unearth and re-position ‘the garden’ as a space for plants and creative ideas to grow together. Garden Wall founder Lucie MacGregor has established her curational research and understanding of this specific garden through the generation of sculptural objects. Her research has stemmed from a collaboration with Lewisham resident Andrea, which occurred through a project with Deptford X Festival and Volunteer South London, titled ‘Artist’s on the Phone’. Their weekly phone calls included discussions about their gardens, a site they both found comfort and curiosity in during the last few months of lockdown. Sharing a mutual interest in gardening, their conversations have mulled over the idea of the ‘unkept garden’ and the ritualistic behaviour of planting a seed and watching it grow over time.
In response to the digging up and discovering of shards of material in soil, Lucie’s sculptures echo the fragmented materials found in her overgrown garden. Resembling the broken bricks which would rise to the surface when digging the Garden Wall space, Set in Stone, 2020 is a stack of concrete chunks which were found in a neighbour’s driveway. Painted in pastel colours, the sandwiched layers of rock appear bleached by the sun or altered by weather, almost like an old bench in a garden or a worn-away fence. Street marking from the local area can be spotted on the surface of the sculpture, a familiar notion used in the artist’s work. Lucie highlights the unnoticed and unseen symbols and assemblages found in public spaces such as the street, encouraging viewers to slow down and be more observant of the world around them.
Another sculpture which points to the corner of the garden, is made from rusted steel found on the beaches close to Dungeness. This site is a particularly important place to the artist as it is where Derek Jarman’s Prospect Cottage is located, a sculpture garden which has being a prime influence on the Garden Wall project and written about beautifully in Jarman’s book ‘Modern Nature’. Both the book and the Garden Wall touch upon the garden as a place to make and think, a place to learn both patience and the joys and perils of the unexpected processes of nature, both within the ecological and human body.
Notes of snippets of conversations with neighbours
The vertical sculptures in Garden wall could also be read as a homage to the pointed sculptures protruding for Derek Jarman’s sculpture garden. Perhaps echoing the elongated electricity pylons in Dungeness, here in the garden, there are visual ties to the tall street lights and wooden fence planks. Made from the cut-off’s of a kitchen surface, On loop, 2020 has a circular branch balanced on top of its slightly-warped body.
A maquette for Setting in stone, 2020 was also placed in the soil as part of the Sitting on the Fence exhibition. Providing insight into the planning and experimentation behind this sculpture, I hoped to prompt discussions about the making process itself. Revealing the often unseen elements of a studio felt important as the garden became an unconventional studio for me as an artist during lockdown. The wooden rod was used previously to hold up pea shoots growing in the garden.
Our neighbours looking into the garden
Installation view of Sitting on the Fence