The Dulwich Society Journal for Spring 2013.
The announcement by Southwark Council of the names of the four artists shortlisted to execute a commission to replace the stolen Barbara Hepworth sculpture ‘Two Forms – Divided Circle’ which was stolen by metal thieves in 2011 will generate much interest. All are noted international artists and all, as it happens work in London. There will be a public consultation on the artists’ proposals in June.
One of the requirements for the commission is that the work must be created out of material with little commercial value; this might have influenced the steering group which includes Ian McInnes, chairman of The Dulwich Society and Trevor Moore chair of Dulwich Park Friends, as well as the Contemporary Art Society who are Southwark Council’s artistic advisors. The artists have all worked with materials such as Plexiglas, aluminium, steel and even organic matter although this last, together with ice, another chosen medium, are unlikely to feature in the finished work. Opinion will undoubtedly be divided and public discussion guaranteed, especially as Southwark Council has ring-fenced £400,000, the total amount realised from the insurance claim on the missing Hepworth.
When the London County Council spent £15,000 on the Hepworth for Dulwich Park there was considerable criticism of their action. Since that time the LCC has had posthumous praise heaped upon it for its patronage of public art from 1945-65. In Dulwich, Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture has become a much loved part of our local heritage and a huge enhancement to the park. The immense public interest in its replacement was made evident by the large attendance at the Homage to Hepworth presentation in January (see page 7)
Curiously, another piece of sculpture commissioned around the same time, and described by English Heritage when giving it Listed status in 1998, as ‘one of the outstanding pieces commissioned by the London County Council’ – Oliffe Richmond’s ‘Striding Man’, is virtually unknown. It stands, neglected, in the grounds of The Charter School, no longer enjoying its own space as our photograph shows, but instead sharing an open sided tent with a number of exercise machines. Whether the positioning of Richmond’s ‘Striding Man’, so full of energy but bearing such a heavy burden, standing next to a banner announcing the Charter School’s commendable public exam results is a coincidence or an exhortation to the pupils to strive harder, is unclear.
The Society is 50 years old this year. Looking back over its records, ably maintained by our current secretary Patrick Spencer, it is fascinating to see that many of the residents’ concerns in the early 1960s were not so different from today. There were repeated references to the rising levels of traffic (in those days Dulwich Park was often used as a short cut from Dulwich Common into the village), the loss of trees, and the lack of accountability on the part of the Dulwich Estate.
And when you look at photos of the Village taken around the early 1960s, the only apparent difference is the cars and the clothes people were wearing, the buildings are still the same.
But there have been major changes of course, the range of shops is very different - there are no butchers, fishmongers, dairies, or greengrocers any more. Instead we have estate agents, delis and restaurants. Belair House has been rebuilt, the Village C of E primary school is no longer a vacant site, Dulwich Picture Gallery is now a world class art gallery, and the foundation schools have expanded to offer education from kindergarten upwards. The general appearance of the area has also improved - old cars were apparently regularly left rotting in Gallery Road and, on traffic, Dulwich is much better - we now have extensive 20 mph zones, speed humps, and Dulwich Park is closed to traffic.
The major change, however, is unseen. In 1963 the Estate Governors presided over Dulwich in a very paternalistic way. It was the introduction of the Scheme of Management in 1974 that brought the Estate into the 20th Century and led directly to the enhancement of Dulwich’s housing stock and the area’s general appearance.
The Society can claim to have played its part. It was a key player in the formation of the Scheme of Management, it campaigned for many years to introduce traffic calming measures, and it fought long and hard, with others, to stop the Estate’s proposed developments in the Sydenham Hill Woods. It also helped to retain the Village Post Office, restricted the construction of mobile phone masts, and encouraged the continued use of the Herne Hill Velodrome.
But what of the next 50 years, what will Dulwich look like in 2063? Will it still have its green open spaces; will it still attract residents to its schools; will there still be shops in the Village; and will the older houses remain? I suspect the answer is yes.
50th Anniversary Exhibition
Members’ applications to view the Society’s 50th anniversary exhibition at the Wodehouse Library in January were very over-subscribed, numbers having had to be restricted because the Library is not able to accommodate a large number of visitors at one time . Neverthless some 180 members and guests applied for tickets promptly and enjoyed the reception and patiently waited to go round the exhiibition.
The Exhibiton was organised by Ian McInnes, Bernard Nurse and the College archivist Calista Lucy. They are to be thanked and congratulated on providing such a fascinating insight into the work of the Society and the development of Dulwich over the past fifty years. The Society is also indebted to Dulwich College for its generoisity in allowing it such a wonderful space. The thanks of the Society are also due to Patrick and Merill Spencer, assisted by Wilf Taylor and others who arranged the excellent reception at which both Ian McInnes and the Society’s president, Dr Colin Niven gave an address.
If any member wishes to see the exhibition at the Wodehouse Library, Dulwich College, they should apply at Dulwich College Reception office (South Block) Monday-Friday 10am-12 and 2pm-4 for a visitor pass. The exhibition closes on Sunday 24th March when the Library will be open during the day.
The Dulwich Society is looking for a volunteer to take over the compilation and planning of future editions of ‘Dulwich Gardens open for Charity’ – a copy of this booklet is enclosed with this issue of the Dulwich Society Journal. John Ward, who has produced this booklet since its first publication five years ago, is standing down. Most of the work takes place between November and February each year. It involves keeping an up-to-date list of garden owners and contacting them (by Email, post and/or telephone) to get details of their opening dates and times and also a description and photograph of the garden. This is then entered on computer, sorted into date and page order, checked and then sent to the printer who does all the detailed design work. When page proofs are returned by the printer, these are double checked. Distribution of the finished booklet is with the March issue of the Dulwich Society Journal and via local garden centres, libraries and shops.
John Ward would be pleased to give any help that’s needed to his successor. If you are interested in the possibility of taking over from him, please contact John – Tel. 020 7274 5172 or Email.
Southwark Council Cleaner Greener Safer bids 2013
After a year when there was no CGS funding, the Council has managed to find some money to restart the programme. The Society has submitted several projects for funding including a replacement traffic island in Burbage Road at the junction with Gallery Road, new paving around the war memorial on the corner of Lordship Lane and Dulwich Common, trees to screen the Herne Hill Velodrome, installation of chains between the white posts at the southern end of College Road, a replacement bench at the corner of Village Way and Dulwich Village, the installation of heritage bus stops on Half Moon Lane in Herne Hill and funds to complete the upper floor in Rosebery Lodge in Dulwich Park
Dulwich Mill Pond
Works on the dredging, de-silting and refurbishment of the Mill Pond at the corner of Dulwich Common and College Road started on 7th January. The Society had been lobbying the Estate for some time about its deteriorating condition, due mainly to the build-up of silt. The scheme, developed in conjunction with Froglife Ltd, a well-known ecological consultancy, will improve the Mill Pond and its surrounding environment and increase its ecological value. The works will involve:
- tree thinning
- partial de-watering of the pond
- formation of bankside revetments which will create semi-submerged planting zones
- removal and setting aside of the remaining silt for subsequent landscaping behind
- addition of natural timber bunds
- formation of two small breeding ponds on the banks of the main pond
- landscaping of the silt once this has dried
- formation of a new silt trap to reduce future silt build-up
The Thameslink Wimbledon train loop has been saved and through trains will continue to run direct from Herne Hill to St Pancras. Passengers travelling to central London on the Wimbledon Loop had faced the prospect of having to change trains at Blackfriars Station from 2018 under proposals put forward under the Thameslink Programme. However, after extensive consultation with stakeholders and local rail users, the Department for Transport has worked closely with Network Rail to make sure the route continues to operate as part of Thameslink’s core services.
This is fantastic news. Everyone who campaigned for the retention of the direct service, wrote letters and responded to the consultation is to be congratulated. There were 3,500 responses to the consultation and 2,200 in favour of retaining the route so your letters and responses made a difference.
Full details of the announcement are at: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-safeguards-future-of-the-wimbledon-loop
Famous Pub Closes
A local pub appears to have closed permanently. The Grove aka The Harvester, situated at the corner of Dulwich Common and Lordship Lane claimed to have had an electrical fire in its cellar several months ago and the Dulwich Estate as landlord has assured the Dulwich Society that the pub will re-open. However, no work appears to have been done, the windows remain boarded up and the entire affair appears clouded with doubt as to the long term future of the premises. With the pub comes a very large car park and garden and is of course in a prime residential development location.
Councillor Lewis Robinson is particularly upset and comments “Since the pub closed, it has been squatted twice and the car park flytipped on a number of occasions – I have reported this to both the landlord and the council. I have worked hard to make a number of improvements to this part of Lordship Lane, such as refurbishing the war memorial in St Peter’s churchyard and shop front improvements across the road, and it is so disappointing to see The Grove in its current condition”.
The Dulwich Society has also done a great deal to improve this corner of Dulwich. Largely through the efforts of David Roberts and with a considerable donation from the Society, the fencing in front of the Marlborough Cricket Club has been replaced, new gates provided for Cox’s Walk, support given to the restoration of The Concrete House and negotiations opened between The Deeper Life Bible Church (formerly St Peter’s) and the Society over the restoration of the church wall and the Listed hall.
If, as likely, the fire at the Grove is to be used as a pretext for demolition and redevelopment, the Dulwich Society will want to be involved in what is to replace the pub in this key part of Dulwich.
Meanwhile, in Dulwich Village, the plans to convert the Crown & Greyhound into a boutique hotel grind on increasingly slowly.
We have now had wheelie bins for some years. Well yes admittedly, we have not had blue and brown ones for so long but…..we have quickly grown to appreciate them. The service by Southwark Council is efficient. Recycling becomes easier for us, we can get rid of garden waste easily and even dump unwanted paraphernalia in the original green bin. But they can be an eyesore. If you live in house with a side entrance you have no problem. If however you live in a terraced house there is nowhere to put your bins except in the front garden where they reside in tri-coloured prominence. Those residents who have paid large sums to have their front gardens reorganised by a garden designer now have the indignity of having the result obscured by their refuse bins.
It is surprising that so far, little ingenuity has been employed to disguise their presence, or are residents sticking to the old architectural adage – if you can’t hide it, then emphasise it?
Southwark Council is short of funds and, as part of a financial review, it is looking at the future viability of the community centre at Kingswood House. A public consultation open day was held last November to examine four proposals for a way forward.
All the options involve retaining community uses, including a library, on the ground floor with ancillary accommodation in the basement. The two upper floors could either be small offices and meeting rooms for local businesses, studios for cultural uses such as dance and painting, private residential apartments, or student accommodation. The building is Grade II listed and both the third and fourth options will involve substantial changes to the interior.
The problem for Southwark is that a large sum needs to be spent on roof repair and/or replacement and it is looking for a commercial scheme that would generate sufficient revenue to pay for it. The difficulty over the building is that it is located on the Kingswood Estate and access and parking are difficult.
The Dulwich Society is not averse to some change but cannot really see an option that would provide sufficient funds and leave the building’s interior intact.
In January, Dulwich Park Friends staged a well-attended evening devoted to Barbara Hepworth at Alleyn’s School’s Michael Croft Theatre as the decision was awaited in selecting an artist to produce a piece of work to replace Hepworth’s ‘Two Forms – Divided Circle’, stolen in 2011. The programme arranged by Trevor Moore included several short films. Local artist and sculptor Pat Rae explained the process of bronze casting using sand moulds in an interesting film about the life and work of Barbara Hepworth. Another local artist, Heather Burrell, who has designed a new metal entry arch over the Thurlow Park Road entrance to Belair was depicted in the film using hundreds of old shoes in an installation depicting the stolen Hepworth statue. Another film, entitled The Empty Shoes, by film maker Andy Humphreys featured dancers, Nyron Levy and Elizabeth Chong performing in the beautiful setting in Dulwich Park previously occupied by Two Forms in a specially commissioned piece choreographed by Nyron Levy. Chris Stephens of Tate Britain who also works at the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden in St Ives gave an illustrated talk on the artist. The evening was rounded off with a poetry reading on the loss of the sculpture by Kate Miller.
Councillor Barry Hargreaves representing Southwark Council said that the Council had ring-fenced the £400,000 insurance recovery from the theft and that a steering group had been formed which included Ian Dejardin, Director of Dulwich Picture Gallery, Trevor Moore, chair Dulwich Park Friends and Ian McInnes chair of the Dulwich Society.
At the end of January Southwark Council announced its shortlist of four artists:
Recent winner of the prestigious Zurich Art Prize, Ryan Gander; Turner Prize nominee in 2003, Anya Galaccio; Conrad Shawcross whose work “Metamorphosis: Titian 2012” was commissioned as part of the Cultural Olympiad's London 2012 Festival; and internationally acclaimed Eva Rothschild have been selected.
Following the theft of the Barbara Hepworth sculpture from Dulwich Park in 2011, a steering group made up of Southwark Council representatives and members of Dulwich community groups was set up to oversee the commission of a new artwork for the park. The steering group have been working alongside the Contemporary Art Society, who were appointed last year to manage the artist commissioning process.
The selected artists now have a period of three months to develop their design proposal. Following this, a public consultation will be held in June 2013 to gauge opinion on each of the art work proposals. Details of the locations for public consultations will be made available in April.
Each artist will be judged on their ability to meet the commissioning principles agreed by both the steering group and the Contemporary Art Society ahead of the public consultation.
Councillor Veronica Ward, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Sport, Olympic Legacy and Volunteering said “We were overwhelmed by the response we had from such amazing talents. Although it was a tough decision to make, we are confident that the shortlist reflects a good pedigree of artists all capable of fulfilling the brief in their own individual way. We look forward to reviewing their individual visions for Dulwich Park and we are pleased to be able to honour the legacy of Barbara Hepworth in this way.”
Fabienne Nicholas, Head of Consultancy, Contemporary Art Society said; “We are delighted to present this strong shortlist of artists for the Dulwich Park Sculpture Commission. Each artist has a varied approach to sculpture: Gallaccio’s site- specific works are concerned with beauty, nature and the passing of time while Gander’s ideas- based practice ranges from installations and sculptures to lectures and publications. Rothschild’s sculpture plays on minimalist traditions whilst exploring architectural and urban space, and Shawcross creates static and moving sculptures which explore geometry, philosophy, physics and metaphysics. The four artists live and work in London, and while each has an international and prolific career none has a permanent sculpture in the city. This list is an illustrious and varied one, befitting of the ground breaking artist of her time, Barbara Hepworth.”
The Scarecrows are Coming - probably !
Last year Southwark Council in a fit of generosity or guilty conscience allocated the sum of £50,000 to the ‘South of the Borough’ to be spent on community events, possibly to relieve the gloom of the prolonged recession. The other areas of the borough (north and middle i.e. Bankside/Bermondsey and Rotherhithe and Camberwell/Peckham/Walworth) received similar pots of money.
Representatives from the Dulwich Society were invited to several meetings with officers and they, together with most of the others present stressed that the Dulwich Festival was the proper medium through which any largesse should be funnelled. The result is four pop-up projects which will be on view during the Festival at the Dulwich Park Fair on 19th May. These include Graham the Artist from The Scarecrows project who will create a narrative for the area based on its history. Schools and community groups of all ages will create ‘scarecrows’ or life sized models and over a week they will be placed around the area and mysteriously move overnight to eventually gather at a final meeting point to which the public will be invited to see them in their entirety and discover that each scarecrow has a story to tell.
The Scarecrows are Coming week beginning 6th May leading to final installation Saturday 11th May.
Forty Years On - Dulwich DDFAS
Founded in 1973, Dulwich Decorative and Fine Arts Society (DDFAS) celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. It is an affiliate of the National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS), which promotes "the aesthetic education of the public". The society's early years were boosted by its association with Dulwich Picture Gallery and its Director, Giles Waterfield. Many others helped along the way and a glass will be raised to them at the celebrations in June.
The main attraction of DDFAS membership is the illustrated lectures held in the sixth form lecture theatre at James Allen’s Girls' School (JAGS) on the second Thursday of the month at 8pm from October to July. There is parking at the school and refreshments are served before the lecture. You can 'try before you buy' as a temporary member and attend up to three lectures. Members participate in study days, visits, walks, tours and social events throughout the year, as well as lectures.
When Janet Higman became chairman 20 years ago, she attended a NADFAS course which suggested that chairmen remember to sit decorously on the platform, and not to apologise too profusely for something that wasn’t their fault! Janet reminisces:
"In those days we served sherry on the coach when we reached our destination, very cheery, especially on a cold wet day, and the guidelines said 'don’t forget the driver'. I can’t believe now that we actually provided a tipple for the man who was going to drive us home.
"One of the most moving occasions was when DDFAS organised Polish food and drinks alongside a NADFAS study day at Dulwich Picture Gallery for Giles Waterfield’s exhibition, Treasures of a Polish King. A number of elderly Polish émigrés came and one sensed their pride and profound sadness as they looked on these treasures from home.”
See www.ddfas.org.uk, email
The Dulwich Festival Celebrates Its 20th Year
What do street artists, chamber musicians and an adventurer have in common? They are all coming to Dulwich this May as part of the 20th Dulwich Festival! With a host of events to whet your cultural appetite, this year’s Festival runs from the 10th to 19th May and will be bigger and better than ever before.
The StreetArt festival is back by popular demand after the amazing reception street artist Stik enjoyed when he brightened up the streets of Dulwich with his inventive and lively ‘Stik’ men. This year’s Festival includes a series of StreetArt workshops and a special outdoor recreation of ‘Museums At Night’ events, with live street art being created under the cover of darkness.
Tempted to unleash your adventurous side? Then Jason Lewis’ talk introducing his new book – The Expedition: Dark Waters – is a must. Jason’s heart-stopping rendition of his extraordinary human-powered circumnavigation of the earth will have you gripped. Taking 13 years, 2 months and 24 days, Jason’s journey cost him two broken legs and blood poisoning in the Pacific. Come to The Old Library, Dulwich College on 13th May at 7.30pm to hear more.
The Artists’ Open House programme is the perfect opportunity to purchase unique art works while having a private view of the artists’ studios and houses during the weekends of the Festival. A well-loved favourite, this year’s programme has pottery, paintings and handmade jewellery a-plenty.
Those with an ear for good music will be tempted by the Dante Quartet’s sublime chamber music programme. Playing at the atmospheric Christ’s Chapel in an evening co-presented with the Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery on 15th May at 7.30pm, the quartet’s performance is set to be a real treat!
The Festival programme has many other delights in store including a lively walks and talks programme. As the Festival approaches this 20th anniversary year, it is a time to reflect on the amazing dedication and energy of the many people who have helped to make the Festival what it is today. Friendships are forged in this tremendous joint endeavour. If you would like to lend a hand to make this year's Festival extra special, please do contact the team.
For more information please visit the Festival website, Facebook and Twitter pages:
The Caucasian Wing-nut (Pterocarya fraxinifolia)
There are two good examples of these trees in Dulwich Park, on the grass between the lake and the southern carriageway. They were found in the Caucasian mountains, in what was then Persia, in 1782, brought to France and then to England.
The ones in the park are multi-stemmed, low spreading trees which sucker freely, but they can grow to 30 metres in damp places. The compound leaves consist of up to 25 large floppy leaflets and the grey bark has coarse ridges. The distinctive feature of these trees is their seed pods. They start as yellow catkins (both male and female flowers are found on the same tree) in the spring and develop into long dangling strings of pale green seed pods like beads on a necklace. Each seed is contained in a nut with a broad wing, hence the tree’s name. The pods can often be seen, brown and withered, in winter.
Caucasian Wing-nuts are quite frequently planted in parks nowadays, because of their toughness and vigour.
Stella Benwell Trees Committee
Sydenham Hill Wood
Warden David Greenwood reports
On the 9th September 2012 London Wildlife Trust celebrated 30 years of nature conservation at Sydenham Hill Wood, a fragment of ancient and recent woodland that has gained classification as a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and a Local Nature Reserve (LNR) since 1982. Why is Sydenham Hill Wood special? It’s an urban woodland home to an array of wild species that indicate ancientness, and showing us that despite industrial upheaval in Victorian times with the advent of the Crystal Palace High Level railway and the villas developed across the Sydenham Hill ridge its ancient lineage has not been completely destroyed. In fact, the old railway track bed is one of the Wood’s most diverse areas for wildflowers, an area now protected by fencing. Wild strawberry, woodruff, pendulous sedge and common dog-violet all thrive in the shallow soils that have built up naturally since the train line closed for good in 1954. Alongside the adjoining Dulwich Wood, Sydenham Hill Wood makes up the largest remaining fragment of the Great North Wood, a vast woodland that once stretched from Deptford to beyond Croydon and had origins in the wildwood that colonised after the last Ice Age, 8-10,000 years ago.
It is important that we protect these locally rare native species in their natural habitat because there have been great losses to the Wood’s biodiversity over the centuries, and far worse in the surrounding areas, ecologically speaking. Wood anemone is an ancient woodland indicator that takes 100 years to spread two metres across the woodland floor. It still exists in Sydenham Hill Wood but in small pockets. Once it would have spread out in swathes. But there are suggestions that the damage to the Wood’s environment is not all recent, and exploitation of the site’s natural resources in the 17th century could have had an adverse effect on species like wood anemone.
With these notions at the heart of our work, it is my role as the newly appointed permanent site manager to lead volunteers twice a week in managing Sydenham Hill Wood for wildlife and public access. We coppice hazel trees to harvest timber for dead hedging and path edging, subsequently creating dead wood habitat for a diverse array of fungi, invertebrates, mosses and lichens. It is my responsibility to lead public events like bat walks, tree walks, bird and butterfly walks and education sessions for schools. We are lucky to have outside support for the specialities such as fungi from esteemed naturalists such as Dr. Mark Spencer of the Natural History Museum. All the funds raised for the Wood are channelled back into the management programme.
London Wildlife Trust could not continue to protect and enhance Sydenham Hill Wood without the financial support of Southwark Council who fund my role fully. Almost all of the work on site is enacted by volunteers under my leadership and without their ongoing passion and dedication the Wood wouldn’t be where it is today, quite literally. I volunteered at Sydenham Hill Wood for 18 months before becoming the Project Officer and much of what I know was taught to me by my predecessor Ashley White who has taken up a fantastic new role in Wiltshire. We are lucky to have such an array of talents and abilities, unified by a passion for Sydenham Hill Wood’s long term protection and the wild creatures which depend on it for survival.
If you would like to be kept up to date with a copy of our quarterly newsletter and information about upcoming events you can join our mailing list by contacting me by email: