No-one welcomes the inevitable disruption that accompanies infrastructure projects, however necessary they may be. This was certainly true of the Herne Hill Flood Alleviation Scheme, from which the affected areas in Belair and Dulwich Parks and the SCST sports fields will take some time to recover. However once local individuals and groups had accepted that ‘something must be done’, most felt that constructive interaction with Southwark Council was the best way forward. This approach paid off, because locals’ comments helped shape the eventual designs for the works.
This good working relationship has led to the project winning the Environment Agency’s Project Excellence Award in the Partnership Category. The project has also been shortlisted for the Institute of Civil Engineers/London Evening Standard People’s Choice Award.
No doubt, in time, we will get used to the new undulations in Dulwich Park created by the works.
Another striking new feature of Dulwich Park is the monumental work Three Perpetual Chords by Conrad Shawcross, the youngest ever Royal Academician elect. The artist calls the three sinuous pieces ‘visual descriptions of musical chords’. On Saturday 18th April Conrad spearheaded the official launch of the work in the park. Some two hundred or more people attended the lively and sunny event, with musical accompaniment provided by members of the London Contemporary Orchestra.
The dedication of this work in its public setting comes at the end of a long journey, which began back in December 2011 following the theft from the park of Barbara Hepworth’s Two Forms (Divided Circle). That philistine act - the work was crudely sawn from its base - generated a considerable reaction at both a local and national level. Part of the Hepworth’s magic lay in the way its bronze colours and reflections altered as the ambient lighting and weather conditions changed; and with holes through the piece, it meant that from some angles light appeared to penetrate it.
The Shawcross pieces are made of cast iron and initially have a light, bright coating of rust, colouring that sits well with its natural surroundings. That is intentional - Shawcross had no desire for the pieces to be polished metal, and instead expects the pieces to take on an interesting patina over time. Echoing the Hepworth, viewers will be able to catch different views through the many apertures created by the curves of the three forms.