Chelsea Fringe Festival: Artist Rachael Champion is creating an installation made using materials from the regeneration of Nine Elms
New Spring Gardens is a commissioned artwork for the Nine Elms Chelsea Fringe Festival, 2016. New Spring Gardens, located in a vacant railway arch, consists predominantly of debris from building sites excavated from the Nine Elms area. The undulating topography of garden will be punctuated with a variety of other materials found in more traditional landscaped outdoor spaces including living grasses and coloured mulch. Water will also feature in New Spring Gardens contained in a series of oscillating ‘water bags’, contributing aspects of movement and sound to this expansive installation.
The title and form of New Spring Gardens is derived from the nearby Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Originally known as New Spring Gardens, the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens was a leading venue for public entertainment until the mid 19th century when it was re-developed for residential housing. In the 1970’s, the area was cleared, restoring these acres back to parkland. Today the relatively flat landscape of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is interspersed with distinct rolling grass covered mounds. These mounds, which feel incongruous and artificial in their form, are made up of the remaining rubble from the demolished houses.
New Spring Gardens embraces this landscaping strategy though leaves the excess rubble laid bare, revealing a misnomer in our perception of the landscapes in our cities. London is renowned for its abundance of green spaces, though our experience of this verdant epidermis is mediated through a calculated and manicured skin covering complex layers of materials, infrastructure, and history. The Nine Elms redevelopment along the Thames is a prime example of an urban environment in flux, adding a distinct new layer to London’s landscape. New Spring Gardens endeavours to reflect on the physicality of this reconstruction by reinterpreting the idea of a garden as an urban space in transition.