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Lambeth history at the Museum of Garden History

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Sunday 7 May 2006 12.56pm
Work commitments meant that I failed to get to the private preview of the new "Local History Permanent Exhibition and specially commissioned artwork by Gerry Smith " on 30 March.

I've seen no mention on SE1's news or features pages???

Has anyone visited the Museum of Garden History recently? What have lottery players received for their 40,000? The museum's own website talks about the proposed display making use of the Victorian total immersion font!
Sunday 7 May 2006 1.24pm
It's on the 'to do' list for a feature! ISTR 30 March clashed with at least two other local events/meetings/happenings.

We did, however, report on the award of Lottery funds for the display a year ago:

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Sunday 7 May 2006 2.07pm
Obviously you did the right thing by covering the Founders' Place planning meeting that evening (the second of three thrilling installments). Had I been able to escape my office, I'd have been there myself rather than sipping wine at MGH with the establishment figures of the horticultural and local history worlds - honest, Gov!

But I'm astonished that there seems to have been virtually no publicity put out by the museum for either the display or the contemporary art. The only thing I googled was that there was a talk back on 27 April with the artist as part of the launch weekend for Museums and Galleries Month.
Sunday 7 May 2006 2.38pm
I was there for the plant sale last weekend though it looked like all displays had been moved to allow all the trestle tables in, so couldn't see what was on permanent dispaly ... first visit though ... and won't be the last; it's a stunning building with a lovely knot garden
Sunday 7 May 2006 4.42pm
I got invited to the artist talk, and maybe some sort of opening. However I was 'doing' Founders Place. (I probably should have been focussing on work like our Rabbie, but there is nothing like a good planning meeting....) It had not registered that there was something about Lambeth History.

The MGH is odd, but does seem to be getting better. Six years ago they were absolutely unhelpful when we started the fight against development, this time on the park itself. Given the history of the Museum itself, I thought they could have been supportive, but apparently they did not want to offend their landlord, the Church Commissioners. (I hate that bureaucratic wheeze of saying "Could you write to me" when you know that there is no chance that anyone will ever reply.)

Since then they have have been more helpful, and they do run some good holiday activities that my kids have enjoyed. (Again something that could usefully be publicised here.) But like many of these types of organisaitons they seem to have got drawn into the chase the funding then chase the outputs cycle. Making it diifcult for outsiders to know what they are all about.

Next time Rabbie or James are invited to mix and mingle or Julie is seeking plants, you are welcome to call in for a more humble cuppa.
Monday 8 May 2006 4.29pm
I went to the opening but there seemed to be few of the usual local suspects in attendance. The art world seemed more dominant. There was Kate Hoey however and she gave quite an impassioned speech about local history and the importance of retaining old buildings - I think she was winding herself up for the meeting about Founders Place later the same evening.

The local history display is confined to the single bay of the church where the font is. It is very much an "installation" using sound, slides and light in quite a clever way: features in the cryptic-time line painted on the walls are picked out to coincide with what's being said and the photographs being displayed. You have to look down into the font to see the photographs so only one or two people at a time can really enjoy the experience. There are also a few artifacts in a display case and some oral history from local worthies you can listen to through earphones. Its not the sort of thing that is going to satisfy serious students of local history or anyone doing research but it probably works quite well as an incident in the Museum of Garden History. It shows very much the influence of the local gallery owner Danielle Arnaud. Not sure whether it is worth 40,000 but anything seems to cost a lot of money these days (I'm in my grumpy old man mood)
Monday 8 May 2006 5.21pm
Kate H was on fine form later on, so something worked.
Thursday 29 June 2006 10.38pm
A belated post (in my grumpy old man mode too!)to say that I finally caught up with this at the private view for their following art installation, Whispering Roses. [As an aside, I should say that I thought that this exhibit, which closes ,was rather well done. It is a combination of sound pieces and fresh displays of collection items that deserves a longer showing, unlike the tedious display about the gardens of Hatfield House.]

Getting back to the local history, both the images in the font and the soundguides with interview with locals are good, but I thought that the mural artwork (presumably by aforementioned Gerry Smith???) installed on the former baptistery walls and which gets selectively lit up was really third rate, having no relationship to the scale of the space, and I hope it gets whitewashed over sooner rather than later.
Thursday 29 June 2006 11.51pm
ETA: Whispering Roses closes tomorrow, Friday 30 June
Wednesday 5 July 2006 2.42am
It is ten years since I last visited the MOGH so I suppose I am not in a position to criticize. However, upon reading the comments of armchair critics I feel compelled to suggest that some of the same might like to give some of their spare time to this worthy institution. As far as I know it is run almost entirely by willing and hard working volunteers who would probably welcome any possible offers. I live in Australia so it would be impossible for me to help, but my experience of running a history museum on a voluntary basis fills me with sympathy for the work they do. More encouragement needed I think!
MArgaret in Oz.
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