I have been invited to submit a piece for a site specific exhibition at Clapham Orangery. The Orangery was built in 1793 for the Thornton family, as part of a miniature landscape estate. Nowadays the derelict neo-classical orangery is overlooked by the Notre Dame council estate, which replaced the Thorton’s two houses after their demolition in 1945.
The site wasn’t as dilapidated as I had expected. There were a few weeds growing in shabby raised beds, but it was a peaceful place to be. The orangery functions nowadays as a play park for children but was deserted when I visited.
We often try to control public spaces and nature, manipulating it to our aesthetic ideals, when in fact we need wild, unkempt spaces to provide habitats for vital insects and animals. The artist Herman de Vries described man-made parks as “culturally impoverished nature”. I would like to create a piece that works with the environment and does not strive to control or impose upon it.