The White House: Beacon Garden

The White House: Beacon Garden

In 2017 collective practice They Are Here were commissioned to transform the former car park behind The White House into a community garden. They aim to create a garden environment that provides a ‘residency’ space for multiple species, mirroring The White House as a residency site for artists and echoing the creation of the Becontree housing estate. A series of structures will be made that house and support the residency of different species (including insects and birds) and robots. Each micro-structure will be designed by a different architect of world-class standing, so the garden evolves into a ‘micro-architecture’ park.

This year they have been working with local participants interested in gardening, permaculture and construction. Activity has included a mushroom log workshop led by permaculture expert Graham Burnett, concrete poetry authored by The White House Poetry Group and drop-in gardening sessions. This has led to They Are Here creating a working design for the garden based on theirs and the community’s ideas, as well as Graham Burnett’s expert advice; resulting in a list of exciting plant species to be grown.

At the end of July They Are Here held a community consultation workshop that enabled participants to trace over their design; moving, removing or suggesting additional elements. These contributions will be edited by They Are Here, ahead of more exciting garden developments later this year and ready for the opening in Spring 2019!

 They Are Here (f.2006) is a collaborative practice steered by Helen Walker & Harun Morrison. They are currently based in London and on the River Lea. Their work can be read as a series of context specific games. The entry, invitation or participation can be as significant as the game’s conditions and structure. Through these games, they seek to create ephemeral systems and temporary, micro-communities that offer an alternate means of engaging with a situation, history or ideology. In parallel, they initiate multi-year socially engaged projects that become generative spaces for further works. They Are Here work across media and types of site, particularly civic spaces. Institutions they have developed or presented work include: CCA Glasgow, Furtherfield, Grand Union, Konsthall C (Stockholm), Southbank Centre, South London Gallery, Studio Voltaire, STUK (Leuven, Belgium) and Tate Modern.

Supported by London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, City Bridge Trust, Greener City Fund and Helen Hamlyn Foundation.