London’s Modern Nature: Nurturing green spaces in the capital

June 1st 2019, Drawing Room, 1-27 Rodney Place, London SE17 1PP

Public Talk @ The Drawing Room.

Sat 1st June 2019 : 4:00pm – 5:30pm.

Katharine Stout, curator of Modern Nature, chairs a panel discussion with Joyce Cronin of The Bower, located in Brunswick Park, Camberwell and Michael Smythe of Phytology, located at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve. Together they discuss the importance of maintaining and nurturing urban ‘green’ spaces, the interface between art and growing projects, and the relationship between well-being and collective work.

The Bower is a collaborative project between Louisa Bailey and Joyce Cronin. They organise exhibitions and events and produce books with artists and writers by Publication Studio London on site. In 2017 they ran a successful crowd funding campaign to transform the derelict toilet block in Brunswick Park, Camberwell for this purpose. In addition to the toilet block, we also took on the old park keepers hut, enabling us to provide a cafe facility for the park. The Bower’s artistic programme responds to the context of this unique property and its locality and is driven by our interest in sociopolitical and feminist practice. www.thebower.org.uk

The Phytology medicinal garden was established at Bethnal Green Nature Reserve in 2014. The project explores the ideas of use, value & complexity of the modern urban landscape. As urban populations grow and intensify globally, access to nature and complex ecosystems are increasingly fundamental to our individual and collective mental and physical wellbeing.

Over the past five years, the Phytology project has transformed a WW2 bombsite in East London into a cultural institute & community hub for research across the arts and sciences.  The physic garden is one of many site-specific installations developed within Phytology. The garden provides free food and medicine for local and surrounding communities. Generally regarded as weeds, the plants grown on site have been selected for their historic and on-going use in ‘phytotherapy’, traditional and conventional medicine. Visitors are invited to harvest from the garden with the support and guidance of the site team. The meadow grows in pollution-free soil to ensure our plants are safe from contamination and suitable for daily use. www.phytology.org.uk

Joyce Cronin is a gallery manager and organiser of exhibitions and events, having worked with galleries and art organisations such as Matt’s Gallery, Studio Voltaire and Afterall.

Michael Smythe is an artist, campaigner and creative director of Nomad Projects, a vehicle for action-based research within the public realm. Michael studied installation, performance and art history at the Australian National University, Canberra and the Hochschule Der Künste Berlin, Germany. His work is concerned with issues surrounding gentrification, social architecture & environmental justice. Recent projects include Phytology and Urban Mind, a global research project investigating the relationship between the urban landscape and mental health.

Katharine Stout is co-founder and Associate Director of the Drawing Room. Until recently Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary Arts, she is now Director of Focal Point Gallery, Southend-on-Sea.

Location – Drawing Room, 1-27 Rodney Place, London SE17 1PP