“the best-kept arts secret in Britain” Iain Sinclair
Founded in 1984 by The Bermondsey Artists’ Group, Southwark Park Galleries (formerly CGP London) have commissioned and presented over 160 free exhibitions by emergent, overlooked and established British and international artists.
Our mission is to foster artistic career development by providing excellent opportunities for artists and curators to develop their ideas and practice. This is done through the supportive and professional presentation of their work in a unique park setting, integrated within a meaningful community and learning programme.
We exist to enable all members of the community to fully participate and have open access to contemporary art.
Southwark Park Galleries is a registered charity and Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation, supported by the London Borough of Southwark as well as relying on key support from various Trusts, Foundations, sponsors, sales of art, donations and venue hire to sustain our ambitious programme of contemporary art, community engagement and education.
Over the last 35 years we have commissioned and hosted exhibitions by internationally renowned artists including Cornelia Parker, Richard Wilson, Sutapa Biswas, Marcus Coates, Sarah Pickstone, Tai Shani, Ackroyd and Harvey, Marcia Farquhar, Grayson Perry, Peter Liversidge, Eduardo Paolozzi, Anne Bean, Patrick Caulfield, Shona Illingworth, Iain Sinclair, Jonathan Baldock, Andrew Kötting, Uta Kogelsberger, Brian Catling, Tony Bevan, Mark Titchner, Graham Fagen, and Mat Collishaw.
A film by Hydar Dewachi, commissioned by CGP London to mark the 30th Anniversary
of the gallery.
The Lake Gallery
Formerly Cafe Gallery / The Gallery
Situated by Southwark Park’s lake and new Pavilion cafe (launching in summer 2019, led and managed by Southwark Council), The Lake Gallery was the organisation’s original home, founded in 1984 by Ron Henocq and The Bermondsey Artists’ Group, who saw the opportunity to renovate the park’s derelict Lido Cafe building into a space for free contemporary art.
The first exhibition was an Open, open to all regardless of background or training. To this day, 35 years on, the organisation hosts an incredibly popular Annual Open each winter, one of the UK’s last few remaining such shows, where everyone gets to take part on equal terms without selection.
During 1999-2001 the organisation fundraised significant capital support to develop its bespoke ‘white cube’ gallery space, enabling a major redevelopment to increase accessibility and improve the quality of the exhibition spaces, reopening with an exhibition by Mary Evans in 2001.
Formerly Dilston Grove / Clare College
In 1999 Southwark Park Galleries opened its second arts venue, Dilston Grove (situated in the park across the lake). The first church on this site was opened in 1886 by Clare College Cambridge as part of a university mission in a “spiritually destitute district”. After signs of subsidence in 1909, an appeal fund was started for a new church. The church as it now stands was built in 1911, the very first poured concrete building in England at a cost of £2,718. 16s. 4d. Designed by architects Sir John Simpson and Maxwell Ayrton (who went on to build the original Wembley Stadium), it was described at the time of its opening as ‘the finest modern church in South London’ and is now a Grade II listed building.
The church closed in the early 1950s and was used for some time by a group of students from The Royal College of Art including Richard Wentworth as artist studios in the1970s. With crucial support from Arts Council England, London Borough of Southwark and the Heritage Lottery Fund, Southwark Park Galleries transformed this derelict church into a spectacular art gallery ideally suited to ambitious, large-scale presentations. The building re-opened in May 1999 with the new name of Dilston Grove and the group exhibition Word Enough to Save a Life, Word Enough to Take a Life curated by Simon Morrissey.
In 2010, working with Walther Menteth Architects, Dilston Gallery was further renovated with support from English Heritage, Big Lottery Fund, Southwark Council and The City Bridge Trust, remodelling the former Parish Room to create a new entrance and fully accessible Community Learning workshop space overlooking the park. The refurbished building’s inaugural exhibition was Mémoire by Sammy Baloji in partnership with Autograph ABP.
Southwark Park Galleries’ activity is deep rooted in Southwark, encouraging neighbours within the borough to exhibit and engage with an important cultural hub through regular integrated activities and a number of targeted exhibitions that enable a wide range of artists and local residents to participate.
We work in regular partnerships with other local and national organisations, providing free projects which include weekly allotment workshops for families with pre-school children, regular schools visits, BOSCO (A Place for Young People), The Bede Centre, Riverside Parents Group, Rotherhithe Family Centre, Age UK, Autograph ABP, London Bubble Theatre Company and Corali Dance Company.
Our local community also have the opportunity to become exhibitors through our Annual Open exhibition and participation in regular projects that create new work to be exhibited in Lake Gallery such as schools visits, Seniors Art School and our weekly allotment group for families with pre-school children.
For more information on our Learning and Community Programme click here.