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Past Exhibition: Shedding the Allotments

Ealing Dean Gardens is London’s oldest surviving allotment, as decreed by the Bishop of London back in 1832.  This year it came under threat from housing development. It has already been reduced in size by 60% following a compulsory purchase order that was placed on it in the 1970s.

This exhibition at the Garden Museum showed works by Photographer Damian Walker, demonstrating the diversity of the allotments through the sheds on the plots.

Damian Walker describes how he came to photograph the allotments:

“I was born in a house up the road from the allotments and since the 1960s have passed by on the bus overlooking its high hedge when going to the cinema. It wasn’t until I heard about the threat of its demise that I asked Christina, the Allotment Association’s Chair if I could come in and take some pictures.  Her savvy people skills and can do attitude is much needed with the 141 multicultural plot holders. Her simple message to them is “You come, you tend it, you love it and you make the most of it”.

“For me, the sheer range of sheds seems to define the allotment’s character, and of course the characters of its owners.”

Simon, who is a Garden Landscaper and Carpenter by profession, made his traditional shed from doors with a wild grass roof, but his detailed craftsmanship is seen all over the allotments.

Alec, who has been here for over ten years, has built something approaching a little Russian Dacha.

Milko, from Serbia, inherited his uncle’s plot fifty years ago and has been adding to his freestyle design ever since. Part of its support structure is a tree growing in the middle. There is even a WW2 Anderson shelter, unearthed and restored to pride of place.

Wendy houses, swings and slides show that children are nurtured here just as much as the fruit and veg, flowers, trees, birds bees and bats.

Last Halloween nearly 4,000 visitors were treated to staked-shed and other haunting new creations from Game of Thrones as the public was freely invited in by a very talented and resourceful community – they even put on a bar and barbecue!

Damian Walker’s exhibition of photography from Ealing Dean Gardens focused around the many sheds, each with a story behind it.  If you enjoyed the pictures, Damian invites you to look up Ealing Dean Gardens and pay them a visit, he explains that they are always looking for new friends to help them fight their precious corner in West London.


Image: Damian Walker