What is a garden? Wikipedia defines it as ‘a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the cultivation, display, and enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature’. This source furthermore claims that ‘the garden can incorporate both natural and artificial materials’. The Artist’s garden is an art installation in central London, which has transformed a 1400sqm hidden and neglected public roof terrace above Temple tube station. It has no plants and a sole focus on artificial. It’s difficult to get the garden connection. Is it a concept of mind?
The artist behind the Artist’s garden, Lakwena Maciver, wants it to be known as ‘oasis of coloured calm’ and a ‘Vision of paradise’. Further explaining that “the name Temple, given to the group of buildings in London which stands on land formerly belonging to the Knights Templar, is overshadowed by its now predominantly secular surroundings. But the concept of a temple – a place where heaven and earth meet – remains deeply relevant. They say that the Garden of Eden was the first temple – the story goes that we were cast out of the Garden, and ever since then we have been longing to find our way back. This idea of a subconscious yearning for paradise sits in stark contrast to the highly colonised, concrete environment that now surrounds Temple Station. Yet it is this which has become the impetus for this public intervention.”
The site has been largely unused since its current structure was built in 1870 as part of Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s feat of engineering which saved London from the ‘Great Stink’ and cholera through the creation of the Embankment to house the city’s waste system and the new underground train system. It is thought to be on the site of the seventeenth century garden of Lord and Lady Arundel, who collected England’s first great classical sculpture collection. Visitors would have alighted from the Thames and walked through the garden to Arundel House, which sat next door to Somerset House and the other great palaces of the Strand.
It will remain open to the public for free, from dawn to dusk until the end of summer 2022.