“Making Dilston Grove in 2003 was a pivotal work for us, a work that was actually over 13 years in the planning. During the course of researching sites we visited and photographed many empty or disused churches in London but none struck us as profoundly as Dilston Gallery. The exterior of the former Clare College Mission Church (aka Dilston Gallery) belies the sheer transcendental quality of the interior. Reminiscent of a great medieval long hall, the interior makes no concession to easy charm, long stripped of any churchy paraphernalia. It has a compelling austerity. Tall concrete walls. A suiting architectural juxtaposition to our artistic desire to plant vast tracts of wall with clay and seeding grass.

The space exerts a commanding presence. It has scale and atmosphere that is very conductive to making art. Southwark Park Galleries (formerly Cafe Gallery Projects London) were instrumental in assisting us secure access and permissions to use the Dilston Gallery site for our artwork. We had photographs of our process exhibited at the gallery and worked closely with them on aspects of marketing, publicity and education.

Local people from the neighbouring estates came, returning a few days later with family members and other friends. Word of mouth spread in a way that disarmed us and in less than a month over 5000 people saw our installation.

We were aware that certain groups had vested interests in the space being adapted for use other than as art space. During the time we were working there occasional groups of planners would turn up talking about putting an extra floor throughout, changing the interior.

It is so unusual to find a space that has the proportions and height of Dilston Gallery and to hear conversation of carving it up struck us as not only insensitive but a form of architectural vandalism. We feel very strongly that this fantastic architectural space should be respected and totally support Southwark Park Galleries (formerly Cafe Gallery Projects London) in their bid to secure Dilston Gallery as a space available to artists and performer to exhibit, make and show their work”

Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey January 20th 2006

Launch Gallery