Project 45 Bute Gardens
Taking inspiration from Baltic Street Adventure Playground and the fantastic opportunity to use a flat set for demolition, I worked with nine 14 year olds for 2 months devising and installing work in the blank canvas of 45 Bute Gardens.
October 2015 I visited Baltic Street Adventure Playground, a project developed by Assemble, the collective who won the Turner Prize last year. I met with the playworker Robbie who lives locally to the project and who was inspirational to me in considering how to approach working with young people. I entered the site and initially thought ‘Oh it’s not finished yet.. a bit of an unkempt mess..’ then I started to look harder, all over the site were dens, tree houses a climbing wall, a make shift death slide. Nothing was polished or made to look like it had come from an Indiana Jones set, but everything had been made by the children and facilitated by Robbie. Robbie spoke about their ability to work to their own capabilities, the times when accidents happened were often when a parent was present, encouraging (pushing) their child to do something they were not ready to do yet. The playground is theirs, the ownership they have over the space means something and the learning that can happen in an environment without measured outcomes or expectant others was really palpable. This was my starting point for the idea of project 45 Bute Gardens, giving the girls ownership, facilitating them but not directing them and allowing them to work together to problem solve.
The girls responded brilliantly and after getting over the initial urge to want to splatter paint al over the walls they formulated a plan for the space and how they wanted it to work. I then set about helping them make it happen. Working with appropriated materials, a tiny budget and finding inspiration in the art that we had been to see through visits to Barbara Hepworth (Tate) , Ai Weiwei (RA) and the Champagne Life exhibition of all female artists at the Saatchi Gallery, the girls directed and developed the flat over 2 months.