Creating a worthwhile Diversion for art

Story by Jack Foley

TWENTY three artists are currently taking part in an exhibition, organised by Danielle Arnaud Contemporary Art, at the Museum of Garden History, Lambeth Palace Road, London, SE1, until August 31.

Entitled Diversion, the exhibition has invited the artists to take part using the material available in the museum (displays, archives, horticultural history). Following their own practice, the artists will intervene within the idiosyncratic surroundings of the museum and garden, using video, projection, glass, installation, photography and plants.

The artists in question are: Suky Best; Ellen Bigge; Clare Bryan; Annie Cattrell; Lisa Cheung; David Cotterrell; Edith Dekyndt; Peter Dukes; Judith Frost; Dan Howard-Birt; Theo Kaccoufa; Sophie Lascelles; Laura Malacart; Charlie Murphy; Sébastien Reuzé; Alex Sandover; Kate Scrivener; Finlay Taylor; Adam Thompson; Shane Waltener; Jakob Wegener; Laura White; and Emma Woffenden.

Following their own practice, the 23 artists are presenting new work, drawing from the contents and commenting on the role and specific location of the Museum of Garden History. In the museum itself the artists have, whenever possible, integrate their work within the displays.

David Cotterrell has installed his new video, Shangrila, in a vitrine. The work celebrates the suburban 1930’s housing highlighting the creativity, flamboyance and quiet struggle of the owners to assert their identity within the rigidly defined parameters of the mass-produced terraced houses and gardens.

The video is accompanied by a new composition by the musician and composer, Jim Copperthwaite. The whole installation serves as an extension to the history of the archetypal English garden.

Lisa Cheung has chosen a selection of epitaphs, found on the surrounding tombs, to inscribe on the inside of the museum tea cups.

For the last few months, Finlay Taylor has been working on an artist’s book together with the common garden snails. Through his patient guidance, the snails have been drawing and writing, their latent presence implied by pulped edges and silvery deposits.

Several artists work with glass: Emma Woffenden has hung her glass ringing bells above the large font; echoing the museum display, Annie Cattrell presents a selection of anodyne objects; and Charlie Murphy recreates the Linnaeus frieze of the sexual life of plants.

In the garden, One Minute to Love is an ambitious installation by Theo Kaccoufa. Using nature with humour and poetry, Theo intends to startle visitors by making one of the garden trees rotate unexpectedly.

Dan Howard-Birt is an artist who has revived floral carpet bedding. His installation, Sundays and Public Holidays, is inspired by the discovery that John Tradescant the elder, botanist and plant hunter, possessed no sense of smell.

Adam Thompson has designed a series of flags depicting extinct flowers. One of them will be hoisted on the church tower at half-mast.

On Saturday, July 20, David Cotterrell, Peter Dukes and James Putman, from the British Museum, discussed the issues raised when introducing contemporary art in the specific context of the museum.

The exhibition is part of the Vauxhall Festival and is supported by Lambeth Riverside Partnership.

The Museum of Garden History is situated in St. Mary-at-Lambeth, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 next to Lambeth Palace and Lambeth Bridge. The Museum is open every day from 10:30 am to 5 pm (voluntary admission charge £2.50, concessions £2).

Top, Shane Waltener Estudio de Sonida 2002 (mixed media and sound);
Above right, Peter Dukes Propagator / The Knot 2002 (digital video)

RELATED LINKS: Click here for the Diversion page at the Danielle Arnaud website....