Garden_lab is in part a reaction to our daily disconnect with the beauty of the natural environment and a need to re-discover its wonders.
illustrations: Andrew Thorpe
This project is a chance to investigate and record the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden’s biological environment alongside its social and spatial uses. The aim of this process is to try and express the value of this space for people and environment beyond a value decided by any private professional organisation.
Over the past 3 and a half years OTWG has been open as a precarious public space and hosted many creative and experimental events. Because of this we want the way it is explored and recorded to be both experimental and creative.
Garden_lab will use many methods to delve into a deeper understanding of the physical and emotional ecology of the site in an attempt to better communicate the importance of the space.
As you can see in the labs page the project is split up into six workshops dividing the garden into six layers.
The layers of the garden form the structure for these explorations allowing for expansive research into each segment that makes up the garden as a whole. We impose no hierarchy to these layers or ourselves, instead treating each as equal specimens in our investigation.
Using science, art, play, story telling, language, philosophy and collaboration we will gather the gardens contents. All specimens discovered and made in the workshops will form the interactive archive for participants or those that missed out on experiencing the garden first hand. Beyond the website Garden_lab will live in the OTWG cabin where the physical specimen archive will grow and where visitors can engage in the archive, texts, recordings, artworks around the project and the garden.
The garden was originally landscaped in the late 80s when Tidemill Primary School bought the disused land at the back of the playground. At the time of completion the garden was the largest natural science garden for school children in Lewisham. Upon the school moving to a new building the Old Tidemill Garden became unused and overgrown. In 2012 a group of guardians moved into the vacant school building and within the year had re-opened the gates to the garden for regular community activity. This first meant cutting back the brambles, nettles and other pioneering species that had taken over the site, making it a more balanced environment for people as well as plants.