It seems that every little scrap of land these days has somebody sniffing around, looking to build a luxury apartment block, so it’s no surprise that when a picket fence with a ‘For Sale’ sign appeared in the Twinkle Park pond, that we received a number of emails ranging from concern to outrage.
When David Cotterell, whose art studio is on the corner of the park in the Paynes & Borthwick building, approached the Twinkle Park Trust to suggest using the park as the site of a multi-artist sculpture garden for this year’s Deptford X Festival, we were very happy to take part, having supported artists working on the Festival’s Fringe programme in the past, we knew that it’s a great way to encourage visitors who might otherwise not venture so close up to the river.
David’s piece, ‘Realty’, is an example of something that might have seemed satirical at some point in the past, but these days it really doesn’t seem that far fetched that a loosely defined patch of water might be cashed in and the green space around it fall victim to ‘development’. Originally, it was installed a decade ago, floating in the Thames next to Tate Modern, where maybe it was clearly taken as a spoof. Here, in our little pond, its presence was quite a shock. Almost violent. The questions about what happens to the neighbours — the moorhens and heron — if a block of flats went up in its place, had immediately unpleasant answers. And yet it raised the question about what happens to people in an area that’s suddenly sold off for the benefit of new residents. The answers are very similar.
Elsewhere in the Deptford Sculpture Garden, we saw 9 Cymbals by Ian Gouldstone. We heard it too! This interactive sound sculpture was made using a pack of cymbals, found discarded in the park. Ian chose to bring them to life by suspending them from branches, so that falling seed pods and twigs, wind and rain, and whatever you might be able to throw up at them, would make a range of sounds, drawing your ear and eyes upwards to hear what was coming down. Ian is also showing a range of his video and animation in his studio on Borthwick Street during weekends of the Festival.
The final piece was inspired by another resident of the park: our neighbourhood foxes. David Surman’s sculpture She Knows (Magnetic North) is inspired by the instinctive and sensory wonders of wild animals. That the fox and her close relatives know which way is North and can orientate themselves accordingly, feels like some kind of magic to us city dwelling humans. Have we lost our connection to nature or magic somewhere along the line? Can we learn how to retrieve them?
Hopefully this will not be the last collaboration with these local artists, and we are grateful to them for activating the park in different ways with their work. We support the park being used in lots of different ways and would be very happy to hear what people thought about these pieces.