On Friday 29 June we launched our Bermondsey Bothy, a permanent outdoor art workshop and residency site by Scottish artist Bobby Niven (co-founder, Bothy Project)

Bermondsey Bothy is a quiet space for artistic experimentation, horticultural and conservation research, writing, meditation and creativity. A pilot programme of residencies will commence during 2018-19.

For its pilot year in 2019, the Bermondsey Bothy Residency Programme will commission three artists, poets and art practitioners to respond to themes of horticulture, ecology, community and local history. The commissioned artists will produce new work and research that will be presented on CGP London’s public programme as events including performances, discussions, workshops and publishing.

The Bermondsey Bothy Residency Programme artists will be selected by invitation of the CGP London Director and Public Engagement Manager. We regret that we cannot accept proposals at this stage of the programme.

The new addition to the gallery’s annual programme kicked off with an in-conversation between Bobby Niven and Turner Prize-winning ASSEMBLE’s Giles Smith in the gallery garden on a glorious summer’s day. We drank cocktails, created using ingredients from our gallery allotment, blackcurrants, mint & rosemary, with Cake generously donated by The Bakery Room on Lower Road.

Bobby Niven’s sculptural practice concerns itself with places of transformation, investigating a given sites’ broader historical and socio-historical context(s) to better create them anew; often through the creation of shelters or large structures for simultaneous human interaction and meditative sanctuary. A founder of Bothy Project, Niven has developed a series of artist-designed shelters sited in the landscape across Scotland; each one offering artists the opportunity to spend time in a specific environment, reflecting on a particular landscape or history

Situated within our gallery garden, a simple timber frame structure of exposed Douglas Fir is wrapped in opal polycarbonate; a series of window boxes puncture its body, mimicking large format field cameras with interchangeable coloured glazing panels to give the user a way to play with the light and privacy of the space. Outside, the opalescent white polycarbonate provides the backdrop for a sculptural growing wall assembled from a series of wooden hands holding concrete vessels and plants made by Niven. The hand is a recurring motif in Bobby’s work; at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, a series of wooden hands protruded from the walls balancing artefacts on their outstretched palms. Niven’s striking Palm House in 2017’s Edinburgh Arts Festival was physically supported by stretching wooden arms, each finger and limb providing structural joints within the hot house architecture. Niven is interested in our relationship to material things and the agency that we imagine certain objects to hold, exploring this tension between the animate and the inert in his sculptures by bringing anthropomorphic forms together with non-figurative structures.

Within the context of our gallery allotment, the simplified figurative form of the hand references the collective processes of growing, nurturing, creating and sharing within the creative act of gardening itself. This sense of sharing, an invitation to gather round, is an important element of Niven’s practice which he wants to pass onto the artists and communities inhabiting his structures. As such, our Bermondsey Bothy will be a dual purpose space for gardeners, artists and gallery visitors; a shared space for community activity, thinking, making and taking shelter, a space to share perspectives and responses to the surroundings of the bothy, gallery and Southwark Park.

Bobby Niven
Bobby Niven (born 1981) lives and works in Edinburgh. He studied at Glasgow School of Art (2003) and gained his MFA at University of British Columbia (2006). Recent solo exhibitions include Palm House, Edinburgh Art Festival Commissions Programme (2017); Proceedings of the Society, curated by ATLAS Arts at Taigh Chearsabhagh, South Uist, Outer Hebrides (2015); Palm of the Hand, Old Ambulance Depot, Edinburgh Art Festival (2013). Recent group exhibitions include Moth, Modern Edinburgh Film School 2015; Reclaimed – the second life of sculpture, Glasgow International, The Briggait, Glasgow (2014); 157 Days of Sunshine, Walled Garden, Glasgow, presented by Bothy Project (2013). Niven is co-founder of Bothy Project, a growing network of small-scale, off-grid art residency spaces in distinct and diverse locations around Scotland.

Bermondsey Bothy is generously supported by Cleaner Greener Safer programme run by Southwark Council, Southwark Council’s Culture Team, The Finnis Scott Foundation, Arts Council England, Conway and ROOFF.

Launch Gallery