On 25th October 2019, Katie Spragg’s large-scale permanent ceramic installation Lambeth Wilds opened at the Garden Museum. Her largest piece to date, this commission has been developed and conceived through an Arts Council funded research residency and connected workshops and project with the local community, including Lambeth Young Carers.
Taking wild, opportunistic plants and the way they may be overlooked or hidden as its theme, this project aspires to celebrate and make visible these plants and communities local to the museum that may also be overlooked or hidden within our wider society.
The new permanent artwork will be housed above the museum’s temporary exhibition space, visible as you climb the stairs to the second floor. Building upon Katie’s concrete and porcelain pieces, a concrete base will hover above the ledge, allowing the porcelain plants roots to be visible; intertwined, connected and rooted, like the local community. Common and favourite wild plants; dandelions, nettles, daisies, grasses, ferns modelled in porcelain will ‘grow’ above-ground from the cracks.
This project realises an ambition of Katie’s to create work in direct response to the collaboration and participation of other people, in this case young people from Lambeth Young Carers, people with Dementia through the Clay for Dementia programme and Garden Museum visitors and workshop participants. Throughout the project, Katie has been collecting people’s stories and memories of wild plants. These stories and observations have informed the plants featured in the commission.
Lambeth Wilds builds on a two-year relationship, exhibitions and workshops with the Garden Museum and local communities. Alongside Janine Nelson, the Head of Learning at the museum, Katie has developed a very successful Clay for Dementia programme in this time. For this current project she wanted to bring more local young people to the museum to explore and respond to the collection and surrounding nature.
In April this year a group of young people from Lambeth Young Carers came to the Garden Museum to work on a six day project. They looked at objects in the museum collection, searched the local area for wild plants; drawing and photographing those that they found and learnt clay modelling and animating techniques. The young people brought this research together into a series of stop-frame clay animations and spoken word pieces (created with the guidance of spoken word artist Eliza Legzdina) that considered connections been wild plants and being a young carer.
The young people’s drawings, models and completed animations were exhibited alongside some of Katie’s research for the site-specific installation as part of London Craft Week in May 2019. Visitors were also invited to have a go themselves; joining Katie for guided nature walks and creating clay tiles by pressing wild plants found growing near the museum into clay; contributing to a three-dimensional, collaborative nature diary that evolved and grew over the two days.