'London's Lost Garden'
How can we narrativise protest? And how can this embed a sense of place in the community?
It was the year that never was. Convoys Wharf lay dormant.
This is London’s Lost Garden. A lush Elysium that once observed the Deptford Strand. Peer above the cladded fence and observe shrubs breaking grey concrete seas. The parterres and great orchard of rare experiments and strange plants now dissipated amongst sunken trenches.
It was the year that never was, and I was gardening my room. I gardened the floor and gardened the windows because I did not much like the view.
A faint voice on the airwaves demands we must all ‘return to normal!’
“The restoration of any part of the garden is infeasible! I have outline planning permission for 3,500 private flats for the Convoys Wharf site!”
Arrogant mass! Must this be the fate of London’s Lost Garden?
‘Normal’ is snatching land for anywhere in the world buildings.
Whilst we are suspended in stagnant water, we must stop the rot!
I garden down the road and garden around the corner to Convoys Wharf.
I rupture the soil from its heavy slumber and the Garden rises in dampness and decay.
I warn the Garden that they are sure to be buried forever if Convoys Properties LTD have their way.
“These starch’t and affected designes smell more of paint than of flowers!”
Gardeners, councillors, performers, campaigners, developers, shop keepers and bloggers…
We must perform outside Normal. Perform the town with little gardens to claim our rights to land!
“Unfold the soil so that we may prevent it from turning stale and Lo! the limber vine plaits leafy bowers!”
We are post-digging, deeply embedded in our earthy conclusion.
Three effigies stand their post. Sentinels of a now when we learnt to touch the ground we walk on. We are a rooted, tangled mass of flesh and soil.
This collection proposes a critical performance designed for the campaign group ‘Voice 4 Deptford’ to protest a planning application imposed on the Convoys Wharf brownfield site. The three components: the script, podcast radio play and promotional film, consider how narrativising protest can expand community participation in the debate and explore the social and environmental impact that the restoration of John Evelyn’s 17th century garden could bring to Deptford.
These devices draw from guerrilla gardening - the practice of cultivating privately owned land, and the contemporary theatre design practice eco-scenography, which examines the environmental influences that the objects and sites of performance have on their audiences beyond the theatrical event.