2009-10 Crystal Palace Park, London

We were appointed to design an interactive, permanent public artwork as a centenary celebration in Crystal Palace Park, as it was here, in 1909 that the Guide movement began.  This work has been designed to be part of the London Development Agency Masterplan of Crystal Palace Park.

The work was to appeal to all ages, to attract not just the local community but national and international visitors and to include local community consultation through a process of meetings and five local Guiding Units and environmental groups worked with us in workshops to result in a design to fully refurbish the maze and surrounding landscaping which was approved by Girlguiding UK, the London Development Agency and the London Borough of Bromley.

At each Guides workshop we introduced ourselves and made a short presentation about the project and how we might work together to consider the site Masterplan, images of symbols and stories surrounding Mazes in general; myths, emotions and metaphors, consideration was also given to the meaning of Guiding and its relation to participants lives and aspirations, in order to begin to work creatively.   We offered a variety of materials; cardboard maze bases, strips, paper/ A1 sheets, poster and acrylic paint, brushes, glue, scissors, coloured felt tips, crayons, oil pastels, wax colours, masking tape.

The group was then divided into smaller groups and everyone was asked to consider the following and then transfer their responses into making a Maze form collaboratively.

  • If life is a like a pathway, what shape would you like the path to take, and why?

  • If life is a journey, with different stages marked by different colours, what would those colours be and why?

  • Can you think of symbols or treasures that would help you on this journey (ie; friendship, luck)

The final drawings, stories or sculptural works were then discussed collectively.  The final workshop, which had over 100 participants coming to Crystal Palace, invited participants to work specifically on the symbols found in the badges using text and writing.  These were undertaken through painting, drawing and collage with a variety of media and resulted in 25 maze models jointly made and over 80 plate-badges made and many poems and selected words for the final work relating to the aspirations for the centenary commission.
Working in partnership with Girlguiding UK, the London Borough of Bromley, the London Development Agency, J&L Gibbons Ltd and Oxford Stone & Marble Ltd,  the complex two ton work, 100cm x 900cm in circumference black and white granite artwork and planting was installed for the launch that took place in September 2010. More than 6,000 members of Girlguiding UK were present and it continues to be well visited and enjoyed by visitors to the park, members of the local community and Girlguiding UK.

Commissioning agent:  Girlguiding UK
Landscape Architect:  J&L Gibbons Ltd and LDA
Developer: London Development Agency
Construction: Oxford Stone & Marble Ltd
Date: 2009-10
Budget:  Total 65K
Photos:  brook & black
Acknowledgments: It was really good to work with both Jo Gibbons and Oxford Stone & Marble. Jo with her considerable plant and landscaping knowledge and skills and the stone masons at Oxford who both translated the design so carefully and installed the work so beautifully.  Of course also, making art with over two hundred guides during the consultation phase was a real treat.