Rotherham Cement Garden
In a letter to his friend Varro, Cicero, the Roman statesman and philosopher, wrote, “If you have a garden in your library everything will be complete.” (Cic. Fam. 9.4).46 B.C.
Gardens, like libraries, are transformative spaces - spaces for creating, growing, thinking, communicating, learning, dreaming. Public gardens, like public libraries, are democratic spaces with open access to all manner of information and provide cultural and creative opportunities that can enrich lives. Both are important in developing local quality of life, sense of place and individual wellbeing. They support social cohesion, build skills and reduce social isolation by encouraging participation in shared activities.(Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, Libraries Deliver: Ambition for Public Libraries in England 2016 to 2021) Significantly, gardens and libraries (and the books and information that fill their shelves) can also be subversive spaces.
There are 708 books about gardening in your library, but no garden.
We propose a Garden in Rotherham Riverside Library.
The metaphoric language of the garden propels fiction, poetry, and dramatic narrative and the literary canon abounds with both manicured and wild gardens from Gilgamesh to Shakespeare, Frances Hodgson Burnett to Ian McEwan. In 2007 the Oxford Junior Dictionary took the decision to exclude a number of words including acorn, buttercup, adder, wren, and conker on the basis they were no longer in common usage, and replaced them with words including attachment, block-graph, blog, broadband, bullet-point, celebrity, chatroom, voice-mail. Dictionaries rightly need to reflect the changes in our lives and language, but it is saddening to think that the natural world is being replaced by a purely technological one.
Our garden will be a physical installation of sculptural forms cast in cement that refer in part to narrative gardens. It will be both memorial and anticipatory - a memorial in part for the books of words that record ideas that have been lost through time as a result of both natural and manmade causes, and in anticipation for new narratives and ways of thinking that are yet to be written and published. In addition to the installation, an Artist’s Book will be produced using the documentation and creative writing content generated during the project.
Sensitive the the contents of Ian McEwan’s The Cement Garden, we’ve chosen to think of this as a Concrete Garden and connect it with physical concrete poetry. The installation of physical concrete poetry will be made by participants in 7 concurrent workshop days with 3 days remaining to explore and play with ways of interacting with the space that has been co-created. The initial 7 days will focus on the collaborative generation of content and the physical making. All participants will be encouraged to add to the physical installation.
Addressing the needs of the 3 named participant groups and the wider library audience: throughout the 10 days, time will be given to open group discussion, creative writing sessions and garden story tellings/ readings by/to participants. In addition to our own documentation, we would encourage participants to document the project and share on social media, and set up a collaborative blog onsite in accordance with library safeguarding policy. Specific time will be given to encouraging library staff to participate in developing a Makerspace.
Adrian Baron and I won the bid.
WANDSWORTH STORY MAP
IS THAT REALLY PART OF WANDSWORTH?1 I RECOGNISE IT NOW, THEY ADDED THE CHIMNEY FOR THE FILM.2 FRIDAY EVENING AS THE BUILDING STILL BURNED.3 WE BURN THEM TO ASHES AND THEN BURN THE ASHES.4 BRICK BY BRICK, WE WILL BRING THAT BUILDING BACK.5 BAC ON LAVENDER HILL WHERE EMMELINE PANKHURST SPOKE.6 BRUTALIST.7 THOSE OLD FLATS WERE REALLY BIG NOT LIKE THE BOXES THEY BUILD NOW.8 I LIVE ON THE SEVENTH FLOOR. I’D LIKE A CAT.9 KITTEN CRABS AND EELS TOO, KINGFISHERS, TROUT,10 A KOMODO DRAGON11 AND CHOCOLATE MOTHS.12 WANDSWORTH IS THE BEST PLACE TO LIVE. I HAVE MY OWN PARKING SPACE.13 THE MINI BUS COLLECTS ME AND BRINGS ME TO THE CENTRE. I SEE CARS, BIKES, PEOPLE. COMMUNITIES ARE MADE BY PEOPLE. I HEAR TRAFFIC, ENGINES, HORNS. I SMELL FOOD. THERE ARE LOTS OF RESTAURANTS. I CAN’T TASTE ANYTHING14 – CAN YOU TASTE LONDON?15 EVER TRIED TO COMPREHEND WHAT THAT SCULPTURE IS AT WANDSWORTH ROUNDABOUT WHILST EATING MACKIE DS?16 AND IS THERE HONEY STILL FOR TEA? HONEY’S OFF DEAR.17 THERE WAS AN OLD PERSON OF PUTNEY, WHOSE FOOD WAS ROAST SPIDERS AND CHUTNEY.18 I HAVE HER RECIPE BOOK, CRUMBLY YELLOWING PAGES AND WRITING SO FAINT NOW.19 A MIXTURE OF THE SORDID AND THE DELICATE IN THE WHOLE WAS UNMISTAKABLE.20 THE STENCH AND SMOG OF INDUSTRY, THE GREAT STINK OF 1858 AND HOW PEOPLE BATHED EN MASSE AT WANDSWORTH’S PUBLIC BATHS.21 PIE N MASH, PROMISCUOUS WOMEN, AND WHAT’S A CHORISTER?22 ROGATION SUNDAY.23 BACK TO PUTNEY CHURCH, HERE WAS A GOOD SERMON AND MUCH COMPANY, BUT I SLEEPY, AND A LITTLE OUT OF ORER, FOR MY HAT FALLING DOWN THROUGH A HOLE UNDERNEATH THE PULPIT.24 HATS OFF TO WANDSWORTH SCARLET MADE BY ASYLUM SEEKERS FOR CATHOLIC CARDINALS IN FRYING-PAN HOUSES.25 VIRTUE CAN ONLY FLOURISH AMONG EQUALS.26 "THE WEAK AN' THE LAME BE BLOWED! I'VE A BERTH IN THE SOU'-WEST WORKSHOPS, A HOME IN THE WANDSWORTH ROAD; AND TILL THE 'SOCIATION HAS FOOTED MY BURYIN' BILL, I WORK FOR THE KIDS AN' THE MISSUS. PULL UP? I BE DAMNED IF I WILL!"27 THE IDEA WAS TO HAVE A ROAD COMING RIGHT FROM NORTH LONDON TO SOUTH LONDON BUT THERE WAS MUCH RESISTANCE.28 PEOPLE TAKING A STAND, LOCAL PEOPLE CAME OUT IN HUGE NUMBERS TO CLEAN UP AFTER THE RIOTS.29 FOR THE ELECTION OF THE MAYOR OF GARRATT, WHERE THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN FOR A DAY, I WAS TOLD THAT THE ROAD WITHIN A MILE OF WANDSWORTH WAS SO BLOCKED UP BY VEHICLES THAT NONE COULD MOVE BACKWARD OR FORWARD DURING MANY HOURS, AND THAT THE CANDIDATES, DRESSED LIKE CHIMNEY-SWEEPERS ON A MAY- DAY, OR IN THE MOCK FASHION OF THE PERIOD, WERE BROUGHT TO THE HUSTINGS IN THE CARRIAGES OF PEERS, DRAWN BY SIX HORSES.30 THEY USED TO DELIVER BY HORSE UP UNTIL RECENTLY.31 INNER LONDON ON YOUR DOORSTEP. HAPPILY SHOPPING AT JOE MIST THE FISHMONGERS, COCKNEY WIT AT THE GREENGROCERS AND MAURICE AT LANDSBERGS.32 TELL ME YOUNG CRONE, IS THIS PUTNEY?33 CHARLES LIVES IN A FLAT OVERLOOKING THE RIVER AT PUTNEY AND HE ALWAYS WATCHES THE BOAT RACE. HE ONCE MET ALL THE OXFORD ROWERS WHICH WAS GREAT, BECAUSE HE ALWAYS SUPPORTS OXFORD. “THEY WERE ALL VERY TALL.”34 IF YOU'RE A LONDONER JUST LIKE ME - MEET ME IN BATTERSEA PARK.35 SUNDRENCHED BATTERSEA.36 XAGEE AYAADUE KA TIMID?37 NAPPY VALLEY.38 AH, MY SISTER LIVES IN WANDSWORTH.39 WHY WANDSWORTH?40 THE BRIGHTER BOROUGH.41 IT HASN’T STOPPED RAINING SINCE I’VE BEEN HERE.42 WHAT’S YOUR WANDS WORTH?43 OUT ON THE WINDY COMMON, THAT NIGHT I AIN'T FORGOTTEN.44 THAT’S WHY MY DAUGHTER IS CALLED NELL.45 ONCE THE SITE OF WILLIAM MORRIS’S TEXTILE FACTORY,46 RUBE, LILY AND SYLVIE, WORK AT MCCRINDLE'S SWEET FACTORY DURING THE WEEK AND ON SATURDAY NIGHTS GO UP THE JUNCTION IN THEIR CLATTERING STILETTOS.47 I REMEMBER THEM BRINGING ME ON A RIVER BOAT FROM WESTMINSTER TO THE PIER THAT THERE WAS AT BATTERSEA PARK AND GOING TO THE FUNFAIR AND SEEING THE BIG DIPPER. I DIDN’T GO ON THE BIG DIPPER.48 I FEAR THE PROMOTER WAS RUINED; IT FELL INTO DISREPAIR, AND THE LAST I SAW OF IT WAS THE TELESCOPE IN SECTIONS AMONG A LOT OF BUILDING LUMBER IN A BUILDER'S STORE-YARD IN THE WIMBLEDON PARK-ROAD IN THE EARLY EIGHTIES.49 HEAVEN LOVES YA THE CLOUDS PART FOR YA.50 TO THE ASTONISHMENT OF PILOTS IN APPROACHING PLANES, THE INFLATABLE PIG ROSE INTO THE FLIGHT PATH OF HEATHROW AIRPORT.51I NEVER MADE THAT JOURNEY TO BALHAM.52 THE FAR TOTTERING AND OYSTER CREEK BRANCH RAILWAY IS CLOSED.53 THAT’S WHERE THE BOMB FELL AND YOU COULD SEE THAT THE TRACE OF THE CRATER ON THE ROAD SURFACE.54 SO HE NAMED THE CRATER AFTER HIS HOME TOWN, TOOTING.55 I WAS BORN IN CULTURAL TOOTING.56 COLIN HAS LIVED IN TOOTING FOR A VERY LONG TIME (COULD HAVE BEEN HIS WHOLE LIFE? BUT HE WASN’T CLEAR ON THIS) AND HAS NOTICED IT CHANGE A LOT IN RECENT YEARS. HE HAS NOTICED MORE TRAFFIC AND MORE PEOPLE “LOTS AND LOTS MORE PEOPLE!”57 POWER TO THE PEOPLE.58 PEOPLE OF MANY AND VARIED ORIGINS NOW SHARE A WANDSWORTH HERITAGE.59 THE MOST VENERABLE IS THE REASONABLE MAN.60 HE SMOKES IN THE LIFT.61 NELL’S BOYFRIEND WAS ACTUALLY MY BROTHER’S LODGER. HE’D BECOME A HIPPY WITH HIS OWN COMMUNE.62 THEY LEFT THREE CHILDREN (BESIDES GEORGE, WHO DRANK): THE ELDEST JANE, WHO MARRIED MR BELL, WILLIAM, THE HEAD-CLERK IN THE COUNTY BANK, AND HENRY, A STOCK-BROKER, DOING WELL.63 ROJBAŞ.64 I CATCH THE NUMBER 37 TO WORK.65 THE CLAPHAM OMNIBUS HAS MANY PASSENGERS. HE WAS BORN DURING THE REIGN OF VICTORIA BUT REMAINS IN VIGOROUS HEALTH.66 THANKS TO LONDON FIRE BRIGADE AND THE 2 GIRLS SELLING CAKES ON SATURDAY. THANK YOU TO ALL OUR GOOD NEIGHBOURS.67 AN INTRIGUING JUXTAPOSITION, THEIR BACKS TO THE GEORGIAN HOUSE, WATCHING OVER THE DOWNSHIRE FIELDS AND THE ALTON ESTATE.68 I DIDN’T FEEL WELCOME THERE.69 I WAS WITHOUT A PENNY, SICK WITH A VIOLENT FEVER, IN THE MIDST OF A CITY WHEREIN I WAS KNOWN TO NOBODY. 70 A MAN FOLLOWED ME. HE PULLED OFF MY HEADSCARF. I WAS FRIGHTENED. I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.71 IT IS JUSTICE, NOT CHARITY, THAT IS WANTING IN THE WORLD.72 WE REMEMBER PASCAL (NOT BLAISE) AS WE TRACK THE ROAMING ROEHAMPTON MILESTONE.73 BOYS KEEP SWINGING.74 THE POOREST HEE THAT IS ENGLAND HATH A LIFE TO LIVE, AS THE GREATES HEE.75 NOTHING STANDS IN YOUR WAY.76 FORCED TO STAND ON THE CENTRE PLATFORM aT CLAPHAM JUNCTION IN CONVICT DRESS AND HANDCUFFS FOR THE WORLD TO LOOK AT, SURROUNDED BY A JEERING MOB.77 WE TURN THE CRANK OR TEAR THE ROPE, EACH IN HIS SEPARATE HELL…78
Wandsworth story map KEY
Where did the text come from? It came through a series of conversations, the sharing of stories and memories, workshops with Wandsworth residents, chance & free associations, the search engine Google and hard slog research. Shelagh McCarthy 2015
1. esol workshop
Workshop participant’s question whilst looking at a map of the borough.
2. wilditch workshop
Wilditch Support Worker speaking about the Alton Estate, Roehampton.
The Alton Estate has featured in films and TV e.g. The Sweeny, The Bill, and in this case Truffaut’s 1966 film version of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451.
3. 4. 5. burning
Whilst making this piece, Battersea Arts Centre caught fire.
I blended bac director David Judd’s words with those of fictional fireman Guy Montag (Fahrenheit 451).
6. emmeline pankhurst at bac excerpt from the guardian
On the architecture of The Alton Estate.
8. wilditch workshop
Wilditch Support Worker speaking about The Alton Estate.
9. esol workshop
Workshop participant speaking about Wandsworth.
10. wandle meeting at the british library
From a conversation about the river Wandle with Rebecca and Louise who run the Living Wandle project.
11. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Workshop participant Rex speaking about the alleged burial of a Komodo dragon on Tooting Common, immortalised on the Council commissioned illustrated Tooting Tea-towel.
12. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Workshop participant Prue speaking about her former job as an advertising executive. One job involved working with a chocolate company - chocolate moths, Ephestia elutella, are,a common pest in the industry.
13. esol workshop
Two workshop participants speaking about their experience of now living in Wandsworth having previously lived in Afghanistan & Somalia.
14. wilditch workshop
Workshop participant Charles is a service-user at the Wilditch Centre. He spoke at length about his memories and experience of being a lifelong Wandsworth resident. He is speaking about his regular journey to the day centre in Battersea and the sights and sounds he encounters on the way.
I can. Can you?
16. beatbox academy workshop
I worked for only 1 hour with the Battersea Beatboxers based at bac. Using various creative writing exercises we generated a bank of text which they then used to produce a series of performances. This text comes from one of those performances.
17. peter sellars – balham gateway to the south.
"Balham, Gateway to the South" is a comedy sketch parodying a short travel documentary about the South London suburb of Balham. It was written by Frank Muir and Denis Norden for the 1950s BBC radio series Third Division. It compared the area (in post-war austerity) to faraway exotic locations shown in travelogues of the day. wikipedia
I remember hearing this on the radio as a child. I was additionally drawn to it because it parodies a poem by Rupert Brooke whose poem Sonnet Reversed appears later in the text.
18. edward lear
Nonsense poems from a genius.
Michelle works at Wandsworth Museum. She brought objects from the museum collection for the workshop participants to handle and talk about. She is speaking about her grandmother’s recipe book that has become a treasured family artefact.
20. edward thomas.
In Pursuit of Spring, 1914
21. wandsworth museum
Exhibition text from keep it clean! a grubby history at Wandsworth Museum. 2014
22. beatbox academy workshop
23. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Prue referring to an arcane Christian feast day whilst discussing beating the bounds.
24. samuel pepys
At St Mary’s Putney 28th April 1667
25. shelagh. memory
Hugenots, hats and Frying Pan houses.
I would go regularly with my mother to Westminster Catherdral. When a Catholic cardinal dies his hat is hung above his tomb and left to rot. I loved looking up at the rotting hats – I still do. The hats are dyed scarlet. that scarlet is known as Wandsworth Scarlet after the 16th century asylum seeking Hugenots who developed it.
26. mary wollstencraft
An excerpt from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: with strictures on Political and Moral subjects. Published in 1792 by the 18th century British feminist political theorist and writer.
During a period of depression, she attempted suicide by throwing herself from Putney Bridge.
27. rudyard kiping
Excerpt from An Imperial Rescript, 1890.
28. 29. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Prue and Sheila speaking about a proposed road scheme from the 70s and about the reactions of local residents to the 2011 national riots.
30. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Rex is a Wandsworth Labour Councillor. We spoke about the election of the Mayor of Garrat and the forthcoming general election - the date of which clashed with the launch of this piece. Our launch was cancelled. David Cameron was elected Prime Minister. Again.
The tradition of electing a 'Mayor of Garratt' developed in Wandsworth during the early 18th century. These popular mock elections, which attracted huge crowds, were held at the same time as elections to Parliament. They centred upon the Leather Bottle pub in Garratt Lane. The candidates were, typically, eccentric characters from London who adopted comic names and made witty speeches. Although the event provided a day of drunken revelry, it was also an opportunity to air radical political views at a time when no ordinary people had the right to vote.
The cited text comes from Edward Walford, 'Wandsworth', in Old and New London: Volume 6 (London, 1878), pp. 479-489
31. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Rex speaking about Young’s horse drawn brewery deliveries.
32. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Prue’s recollections of shopping in Battersea in the 1970s.
33. blackadder quotation
Blackadder is the title of four series of a BBC 1 period British sitcom, along with several one-off instalments,1983 -1989. All television episodes starred Rowan Atkinson as the anti-hero Edmund Blackadder, and Tony Robinson as Blackadder's dogsbody, Baldrick.
The Black Adder - The Foretelling - Born to be King - The Archbishop
34. wilditch workshop
Michelle recounting Charles’ conversation with her about the boat race.
35. petula clark lyrics
Meet Me In Battersea Park (Leslie Clark/Joe Henderson/David Valentine)
45rpm vinyl single released 1954
36. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Prue recalling a conversation with an old flatmate.
37. Somali for ‘where are you from?’
38. nappy valley
Urban slang for Wandsworth
39. quotation from love actually, 2003 richard curtis
40. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Workshop participant Sheila pondering her reasons for moving to Wandsworth.
41. 42. Wandsworth museum friends workshop
Wandsworth borough council motto mentioned while Prue was recalling a conversation with an old flatmate.
43. beatbox academy workshop
44. squeeze, up the junction, 1979
Difford,Christopher Henry/Tilbrook, Glenn Martin. Vinyl record.
45. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Workshop participant Sue, Director of Wandsworth Museum, named her daughter after the writer Nell Dunn.
William Morris should always be included. And he had a textile/dyeing factory on the River Wandle.
47. up the junction, nell dunn, 1963
48. wilditch workshop
Wilditch Support Worker talking about a childhood trip to Battersea Funfair shortly before the fatal big dipper disaster in 1972.
49. local history
The Craig Telescope
50. "BOYS KEEP SWINGING"
"Boys Keep Swinging" is a song by David Bowie and Brian Eno. It was released as a single from the album Lodger on 27 April 1979.i’ve included this at the request of Sue Walker, Director of Wandsworth Museum.
51. pink floyd, animals.
Photographs for the cover of Pink Floyd's Animals album were taken in early December 1976. For the photo shoot, an inflatable pink pig, made by the Zeppelin company, was tethered to one of the southern chimneys. However the pig broke free of its moorings and rose into the flight path of London Heathrow Airport to the astonishment of pilots in approaching planes.
52. atonement ian mckwan, 2001
53. festival of britain, battersea park.
‘The Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway was a narrow gauge railway created by Rowland Emett. A whimsical view of British rural life and embodying his typical fanciful mechanics, it echoed the similar works of Heath Robinson and Rube Goldberg. The railway began in a series of cartoons in Punch magazine in 1939, as the "Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Railway."
It was chosen as an attraction for the 1951 Festival of Britain events on the South Bank. As the "Far Tottering and Oyster Creek Branch Railway", the third of a mile long railway carried over two million passengers through Battersea Pleasure Gardens. wikipedia
54. Wandsworth museum friends workshop
Rex described the devastation of the ww2 Balham tube bombing.
55. mars crater.
In September 2005, planetary expert Pete Mouginis-Mark, discovered the 17.4-mile wide crater, close to one of the Red Planet's small river valleys, which reminded him of Tooting Bec. Mr Mouginis-Mark, then the acting director of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, was born in Tooting and lived in south London until 1970.
56. beatboxer workshop
Cultural Tooting – genius.
57. wilditch workshop
Workshop participant Colin is a service user at the Wilditch Centre, Battersea. Michelle recounts Colin’s conversation with her about the changes he has seen whilst a resident in Wandsworth.
58. wolfie smith.
Citizen Smith is a British television sitcom written by John Sullivan which was transmitted between 1977 and 1980. It starred Robert Lindsay as "Wolfie" Smith, a young Marxist "urban guerrilla" in Tooting, South London, who is attempting to emulate his hero Che Guevara. Wolfie is a reference to the Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone who used the pseudonym Citizen Smith in order to evade capture by the British. Wolfie is the self-proclaimed leader of the revolutionary Tooting Popular Front (the TPF, merely a small bunch of his friends), the goals of which are "Power to the People" and "Freedom for Tooting". wikipedia
59. Wandsworth museum friends workshop
Sheila described the richly diverse population of Wandsworth noting that she herself originally came from Scotland.
60. the man on the clapham omnibus.
The hypothetical reasonable man, first cited in English law in 1932 by Lord Justice Greer in the case of Hall vs Brooklands Auto-Racing Club.
61. esol workshop
Workshop participant talking about a challenging neighbour.
I wondered to myself if the man on the Clapham Omnibus secretly smokes in his lift…
62. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Prue’s memories of the Battersea based writer Nell Dunn, her family and friends.
63. rupert brooke
Sonnet Reversed, 1911
64. kurdish for ‘good day’.
Explaining the journey books we made during the workshops.
66. the man on clapham omnibus.
67. post fire Thankyou blackboard outside bac.
68. wandsworth museum friends workshop
From a letter sent to sue about Lynn Chadwick’s sculpture, The Watchers, c1963
69. esol workshop
Workshop participant recalling a harrowing experience of racial violence.
Writing about his experiences in Wandsworth.
71. esol workshop
Workshop participant recalling a harrowing experience of racial violence.
72. mary wollstencraft.
73. wandsworth museum friends workshop
Sue Walker discussing the Roehampton milestone, its authenticity and its whereabouts.
74. "BOYS KEEP SWINGING"
75. thomas rainsborough
from the putney debates at st may’s church, 1647
the story map was exhibited at st mary’s church in may 2015.
76. "BOYS KEEP SWINGING"
77. 78. oscar wilde
The Ballad of Reading Gaol, 1898
In may 1895, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labour. He spent some time at Wandsworth prison and experienced the Sisyphean treadmill. He was unceremoniously transported to Reading jail via Clapham Junction.