Women of the World at Jubilee Pleasure Gardens

The Parks for People application we were hoping to put in was not suitable for London’s most central garden. Although there are many layers of history on the site, the new garden currently being made is not a restoration of the original garden, so we are not eligible for a heritage award.

Perhaps the new process for what could be a sceptered gem of a space could be to use our shared roots to nourish a canopy of branches that create a world class legacy. This could also mean a new approach to how we share responsibility for the public realm. This heritage of the future, our heritage, builds a bridge between the past and the future, consciously uniting the poorest individuals with the wealthiest, tapping into the energies and talents of local residents and linking them to the resources and expertise of the corporate interests that line the Southbank of the river Thames.

How can Jubilee Pleasure Gardens move forward from its heritage of exclusivity (originally owned by an aristocrat in its first garden phase), antagonism (during its era as a Victorian slum), and destruction (bombed to bits in the Second World War), and instead become a synthesis of harmony. How can we find an effective way of ensuring that the local residents of the Southbank are able to claim cooperative ownership and not forced to endure the continuing negative history of being pushed around, trodden on or evicted from common land. How can we coax “brief” authority out of its skull cave and open the eyes of those with power to look around and notice individual human beings in their variable circumstances, to include the poor, instead of insisting on the prerogative of the cash rich. How can we nurture the skills and creativity of our youth instead of offering them unemployment and marginalization?

Our theme must be universal – unifying and uplifting. We should ensure that the poorest in our community have a place at the table. We need to be sensitive to nature and allow her to flourish in a sustainable way. After many years of listening, discussing and collaborating, the artisans of Southbank Mosaics have some initial proposals.

1) Our heritage theme should be celebrating Women of the World – with five portraits of women, one from each continent, decided on by an open competition.
2) That we reach out to homeless people and work with them on maintaining Jubilee Pleasure Gardens, with opportunities for them to volunteer and learn new skills as well as to gain full time employment. The gardens can indulge in the wealth of our native flora and fauna, building on the work already achieved by volunteers from the streets in a handful of local parks and gardens.
3) Our artistic expression can be realized in four water sensitive trickle fountains, one for each of the famous English Queens: Boudicca, Elizabeth I, Victoria, and the Queen whose Jubilee the gardens celebrate: Elizabeth II.

If we can bring together these strands of our community then we will achieve a new settlement for how our public space is ordered and a new process for how an aesthetic of common land is sustained.

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