Tuesday, April 19, 2011 - 11:25

Three new gardens have been created on site as part of Southbank Centre’s 60th anniversary celebrations of the 1951 Festival of Britain with MasterCard, which opens on 22 April to 4 September 2011. The celebrations will pay homage to the landmark 1951 Festival and the outdoor festival experience will be animated by four distinct ‘lands’, which take their inspiration from four of the themes of the South Bank Exhibition – People of Britain, Land, Seaside and Power and Production.


The gardens include a new staircase featuring wild urban grassland planting by Andrew Lock, linking level 2 of the Hayward Gallery and Southbank Centre Square; a seaside garden created by the prize-winning-borough gardeners of Southend-on-Sea featuring typical seaside planting and a cockler’s hut; and a rooftop garden on the Queen Elizabeth Hall, which has been created in partnership with the Eden Project


Jude Kelly, Artistic Director of Southbank Centre, said: “Since I first came to Southbank Centre, I have felt that developing gardens across the site would change the landscape both physically and emotionally. Our artistic vision is to have world-class, inspiring gardens across the site, which will add greenery and tranquility, and provide new spaces for imaginative artistic projects and wonderful new vistas for everyone to enjoy.”

The new staircase with planting designed by Andrew Lock forms the centrepiece of Power and Production, linking the level 2 terrace of the Hayward Gallery with Southbank Centre Square. The staircase is created out of shipping containers and pallets, creating terraces and places from which to view the Square below and to open up a new route around the site. Water that has been pumped from the water table below the Royal Festival Hall and used for the air conditioning system is diverted through the staircase to provide an irrigation system for this planting scheme. The means of manufacture and the methods by which the planting scheme on the stairs is nourished invites questions about the nature of power and production in Britain today.

Created by members of the Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Parks Team, the seaside garden features traditional formal bedding displays typically found at seaside towns including tulips, geraniums and polyanthus, a cockler’s hut and coastal planting.The team has won awards for their gardens at shows such as Hampton Court and Chelsea Flower Shows.The 16-metre by 4-metre garden, in the Seaside runs into a 70-metre beach on Queen’s Walk.

The roof garden on the Queen Elizabeth Hall has been created by a group of gardeners who have

faced really tough challenges in their lives. 50 men and women, some of whom have been homeless and others who are ex-prisoners, have been brought together by the Eden Project to turn the top of the building into a lush 1,200 square metre garden. Southbank Centre has brought together many groups including schools, youth groups and neighbours to support the project. This is one of a number of projects involving communities from around the country who are involved in Southbank Centre’s Festival of Britain anniversary celebrations. The groups have transformed the space that was labelled the Sun Deck on the original architect’s plans but was never fully developed as originally intended.


Howard Jones, Eden’s Director of Living Networks, said: “Eden is proud to be part of this Southbank Centre garden initiative. The roof garden is a new type of garden – appropriate for a world-class destination, open and welcoming to the public. It is beautiful, providing intimate space that will be a great place to be in the evenings as well as during the day.”


City Hall provided fundingto help develop the roof gardens as part of the Mayor's Capital Growth scheme and to encourage green roofs generally.


Boris Johnson,Mayor of London, said: “These gardens are a wonderful tribute to thespirit of innovationthatwas inspired bytheFestival of Britain. I am proudCity Hallhasbeen able toplay apart indelivering a fantastic roofgardenaspart of this, to include aluscious orchard of greengage, plum, apple, pear, mulberry and fig trees. Capital Growthcontinues to transform a range of spaces across the capital, someperhapsin less prestigious placesthan this one, but all demonstrating the value of green spaces in improvingthe quality of our built environment.”


The garden has been designed by Eden’s landscape architect Jane Knight and designer Paul Stone. The groups of disadvantaged people have been led by East London-based Providence Row Housing Association. Some of the gardeners, including Paul Pulford, also known as Scruffy, have built on their previous successes at the Chelsea Flower Show, where for the last two years, the Eden-led show gardens created by homeless and disadvantaged people have won silver medals at Chelsea and widespread acclaim. For many of the participants, becoming involved in horticulture has helped them get back on their feet and end a spiral of homelessness and despair.


Jane Knight said: “The whole idea behind the garden is that it is a taste of British gardens and landscapes. We have a lawn area with orchards, vegetable plots, rosebud walk and a wild flower area with 90 different varieties, specially built to attract nature to the centre of London. And we have created a herb garden around a bar / café that is part of the design. A rustic pergola clothed with sweetly-scented climbers provides easy access to the Hayward Gallery over a bridge lined with drought-resistant plants growing in cracks in the pavement.”


Paul Pulford said: “To be able to help to design, build and nurture the garden on the Thames at Southbank Centre with our team is, to this date, one of the biggest challenges of my life. A challenge that I am relishing as others in the team are too. Seven years ago, I was a broken man both physically and mentally, living on the streets with methadone, heroine and alcohol addictions numbing the misery of my life. How I got there is a long story. Today I am clean, employed as a Horticulture Teacher in our group, Grounded Ecotherapy, paying my own rent for the first time in 30 years and I get my hands in the earth each day, grow plants, herbs and vegetables and share my life with anyone who wants to join us.”


For further PRESS information please contact Patricia O’Connor, Head of Press, on 020 7921 0632 / or Helena Zedig, Press Manager, on 020 7921 0847 /