For the first time, we are participating in Open House. Cafe Gallery and Dilston Grove will be open from 12Noon to 5pm.
Also from 2 - 5pm we will have the previews of One and One and One at Cafe Gallery and Roy Voss: Cast at Dilston Grove.
Cafe Gallery is one of two contemporary arts venues in Southwark Park managed by CGP London.
This purpose-built space is the second art gallery to occupy this site. The first gallery was established when the Bermondsey Artists’ Group rescued the park’s derelict café in 1984 transforming it into the first contemporary art gallery in Bermondsey. Looking out from our entrance you will see the blue fountain (aerator), which is all that remains of the Lido that stood on the site of the playground from 1923 until 2002.
From the beginning, the gallery proved to be highly popular with artists, audiences and the local community. For local artists it provided the opportunity to exhibit their work in a venue that was both supportive and willing to take risks. At the same time, it enabled all sections of the community to fully participate in the arts.
After some fourteen years of activity, it became clear that to overcome the severe shortcomings of the old converted café building a purpose-built venue was required. In partnership with Arts Council England and Southwark Council, over £500,000 was raised from the National Lottery, other charities plus individual supporters. The current gallery opened in early 2001 with a solo exhibition by Mary Evans.
The building project was designed and managed by Southwark Build Design Service, led by architect John Wilder, to meet usage specifications set out by Ron Henocq, Director and David Allen, Strategic Development. The aim was to create a gallery that was 50% larger than the original in order to provide:
Maximum available wall space for exhibiting art | full disabled access | a clean simple neutral environment | a main space with controllable lighting | a large transparent entrance | a space for the Learning and Community Access Programme | storage and office facilities.
The building’s key architectural features reflect the fact that it was designed to maximise its use as an art gallery. Apart from an open glazed public entrance, there is a general lack of windows and clean white walls. The walls were specially constructed with a metal frame and then overlapping sheets of MDF and plaster board to ensure that there would be no cracking, that art could be easily displayed and that they could be maintained to a very high standard.
The floor to ceiling doors were constructed onsite and provide both for an impressive welcoming entrance to the Main Space and serve to reduce daylight when appropriate for a particular exhibition. The height of the Long Space (to the left as you enter the building and leading out to the garden) reflects the height of the old building’s kitchen area. This is also carried forward by the architectural feature above the entrance to the Salter Space (which coincides with the original building’s external wall).
The patio garden was designed to exhibit large-scale sculptures. In 2009, for the curated group exhibition ‘Make, Shift and Bend’, artist Janice Macaulay installed an allotment in the garden as the base for her ‘Live Well!’ art project. This proved to be so popular with visitors, workshop participants and the local community that the beds were retained. They are now an important part of our Learning and Community Access Programme where local families undertake the gardening with gardener Frances Ward.
Dilston Grove is one of two contemporary arts venues in Southwark Park managed by CGP London.
Dilston Grove is situated on the Southwest corner of Southwark Park in South-East London. The park was opened in 1869 and, along with Finsbury Park, it is the earliest of the parks opened by the Metropolitan Board of Works. The first church on this site was opened in 1886 by Clare College Cambridge as part of a university mission in a “spiritually destitute district”.
After signs of subsidence in 1909, an appeal fund was started for a new church. The church as it now stands was built in 1911, the first in-situ poured concrete building in England at a cost of £2,718. 16s. 4d. Designed by architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton (who went on to build the Wembley Complex), it was described at the time of its opening as the finest modern church in South London. A century later, this monolithic, Tuscan-inspired church is a Grade-II listed structure.
The building was something of a wonder when under construction. As church records show, it was ‘built in reinforced concrete on a concrete raft and specially designed to prevent all future risk of collapse… Architects from many parts of the country visited the site and took a keen interest in the building operations.’
At the beginning of the 1960’s the church closed and fell into disrepair. In 1999, the Bermondsey Artists’ Group rescued the space in order to maintain an exhibitions programme whilst the Cafe Gallery was rebuilt. The raw nature of the cavernous space proved to be ideal for installations, performances, large-scale video projections and other experimental projects. The group decided to retain Dilston Grove as part of CGPâ€ˆLondon’s art provision and ran the space in parallel to Cafe Gallery. However, by 2008 the building had decayed so much that further use became untenable. CGPâ€ˆLondon raised £870,000 to refurbish the building from the Cabinet Office for the Third Sector’s Community Assets scheme (managed by the BIGâ€ˆLottery), English Heritage, Southwark Council and the City Bridge Trust. The building re-opened in May 2010.
The refurbishment project was led by architect Walter Menteth – with architect Sherry Bates being responsible for the heritage accredited roof refurbishment – to meet usage specifications set out by CGPâ€ˆLondon’s Ron Henocq, Director and David Allen, Strategic Development. The key aim was to retain the main church’s raw character whilst creating a new transparent park-facing entrance, making the building fully accessible and providing a permanent space for our Learning and Community Access programme.
The project included the refurbishment of the top and underside of the nave roof, introduction of interior lighting, new services and encasing the nave windows between sheets of clear polycarbonate. In addition, the apse roof was rebuilt, the choir floor and ceiling restored and the interior wall surfaces were selectively stripped or repaired. Utilities, in the shape of a changing room, WC, store and boiler room were also added.
The most inventive upgrade applied to the project was in the way the parish hall facilitates a stronger relationship between the building and the park. The north-facing wall of the hall has been replaced with a fully glazed elevation of sliding doors, shielded by a security screen which doubles as a hydraulically operated canopy, further wedding building to site. The interior of the parish hall is enhanced with reclaimed timber elements, which add to its handcrafted charm. Plain white walls are ranged under the restored herringbone ceiling with a new semicircular window set into the gable end. A large new doorway, clad with recycled floorboards, provides the transition from reception/learning space into the church itself.
CGP London receives core funding from Arts Council England and Southwark Council. However, we rely on additional funding from trusts, charities and individuals to deliver our ambitious art and learning programmes. If you would like to support us please contact: email@example.com
To keep up-to-date with all of our current activities, subscribe to our e-mail list by visiting our website: www.cgplondon.org
An image of Dilston Grove's interior has been included in the Open House London 2012 printed programme and featured as a full page image in the 13 September edition of The Architects Journal as part of a feature article about the Open House concept.
CGP London, Southwark Park, London SE16 2UA Phone: +44 (0)20 7237 1230 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org