Orozco embraced the challenge of transforming a largely inaccessible paved area of land at the back of the SLG’s main building into a unique sculptural work despite never having designed a garden prior to his commission.
Spanning sculpture, drawing, photography and video, much of Orozco’s work stems from his idiosyncratic observations of contemporary urban environments, revealing poetry in unexpected locations or the often playful combination of everyday objects. The recurrence of circles in his work, whether in nature or man-made objects (puddles, balls, wheels), or within paintings and drawings, is carried through to his design for his garden at the SLG.
Establishing a tension between symmetry and asymmetry, a geometry of intertwining circles intricately outlined in brick dimensioned York stone subtly maps a series of discrete spaces or notional rooms in the overall garden. Each area has its own distinctive character, through slight shifts in form or height, variously planted or featuring seating, a sink, water butt or welcome bowl built up from the stone bricks. The various levels and spaces can be used interchangeably for sitting, eating, playing or showing work by other artists, reflecting the multiple activities the garden is used for.
The choice of materials in the Orozco Garden was drawn from the language of the gallery’s Victorian building and includes bricks from the newly opened up rear facade. Playing on the idea of an urban ruin, the garden will gradually evolve to become rambling and overgrown with different grasses, low level creepers and fragrant plants.
An important focus of the garden is the planted walkway which provides a direct point of access for the nearby residents of Sceaux Gardens housing estate where the SLG has run art programmes for many years.
Read the Orozco Garden plant list here.
The South London Gallery is immensely grateful for the very generous support of all those who have funded the garden and would like to thank 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.