In my post today I just want to share with you a little bit about my research into an artwork in Liverpool called the Granby Winter Garden. This is part of my writing work about hope in art.
The writer Rebecca Solnit, talking about hope, and its relationship with the past and with grief and loss, in her book ‘Hope in the Dark’, quoting Patrisse Cullors:
“Patrisse Cullors, one of the founders of Black Lives Matters, early on described the movement’s mission as to “Provide hope and inspiration for collective action to build collective power to achieve collective transformation, rooted in grief and rage but pointed towards vision and dreams.”
(Solnit, Hope in The Dark, p.xii)
Granby Winter Garden is hopeful, because its makers understand hope as a practice, an orientation. I encourage you to look at the images in the links after you read this. They show something that people are doing together about something that has been done to them, something that we can all recognise to some degree, something that hurts.
In 2015, the ‘Assemble’ collective won an important mainstream UK prize for contemporary art, the Turner Prize. As a multi-disciplinary architecture practice, Assemble is an unusual winner of a contemporary art prize.
Assemble had been involved in a number of projects that grew out of the work and the dreams of residents of Granby in Liverpool, and which supported the empowerment of community members and community groups. The overall aims were to regenerate, rennovate, green up and refurbish streets in a degraded and devalued urban area, such that people could live in pride, dignity and connection with one another.
The work for which Assemble were nominated for the art prize was the ‘Granby Winter Garden’, an indoor garden made from partly demolished Victorian terraced houses, in which the group were working collaboratively with local residents and grassroots community organisations. The garden is ongoing, and is run by a Community Land Trust in partnership with the gardener Andrea Ku and local residents. It shows us what happens when something that has been devalued is valued. It makes a dream into something physical. It has made the condemned and gutted houses into a sheltered and covered garden, a place for connection and transformation.