The Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores

21st September - 26th October
PV: 21st September 3 - 5pm
Event: 18th October, 4 - 8 pm

A Woodmill production, conceived by Naomi Pearce.
Dilston Grove, Southwark Park, London

Ben Burgis, Stuart Middleton and Richard Sides with Alina Astrova, Anne Bean, Ashkelon, Bruce Gilbert, Alice Hattrick, Jonathan Harvey, Anne Imhof, Patrick Langley, Margy Kinmonth, Laura Oldfield Ford, Peter Randall-Page, William Raban, David Toop, Jonathan P Watts, Steven Warwick (Heatsick), Simon Werner, Richard Wilson and Z'EV + more

The Mechanical Garden and Other Long Encores takes a speculative diagram drawn by the late artist Stephen Cripps as its starting point. Over a period of two months, this is re-imagined by artists Ben Burgis, Stuart Middleton and Richard Sides as an immersive site-specific installation at Dilston Grove, Southwark Park in September 2014.

A pyrotechnic sculptor and musician, Cripps (who died unexpectedly in 1982) lived and worked in the riverside studios of Butlers Wharf, Bermondsey. His 'Mechanical Garden' drawing depicted an assemblage of scrap metal, broken machinery and other found objects reworked into a sculpted garden complete with mechanical flowerbeds, viewing platforms and water features.

Thirty-two years after his death, this project re-interprets this unrealised work as an immersive installation of kinetic structures and acoustic interventions to engage with the garden as motif and metaphor, exploring its relationship to the gallery as a space of private contemplation, publicly shared. The project sees contemporary artists, writers and musicians channel the spirit of Cripps’s antagonistic, spontaneous practice to create a sensory experience that contemplates the politics of ephemeral practices, the nature of creative influence and the city as artists muse.

A programme of music events, including new performances by Ashkelon, Alina Astrova, Bruce Gilbert, Anne Imhof, Anne Bean and Richard Wilson, accompanies this collaborative installation. An audio guide - part soundtrack, part oral history - will also expand on the themes explored within the project and will be available to download online in the lead up to the exhibition.

Contributions for the audio guide include:

An essay by Alice Hattrick featuring the voices of Cripps’ friends and collaborators, including David Toop, Margy Kinmonth, Jonathan Harvey and Peter Randall-Page.

Patrick Langley on the garden: its past, present and future.

A psycho-geographic sound work by Laura Oldfield Ford crafted from material gathered during drifts around Bermondsey.

An audio walking tour of London by William Raban and Jonathan P Watts

Musical contributions by Steven Warwick (Heatsick), Z'EV and Simon Werner.

© family of Stephen Cripps/Leeds Museums & Galleries
(Henry Moore Institute Archive)