For the first time since it was built in 1870 by Sir Joseph Bazalgette, the vast undiscovered half-acre roof terrace on top of Temple Underground Station between the Thames and the Strand is coming to life as The Artist’s Garden.
theCoLAB Temple has worked for four years to make The Artist’s Garden a reality and is delighted to announce that the inaugural intervention, a co-commission with 180 Studios and in partnership with Westminster City Council, is by London based artist Lakwena Maciver, internationally renowned for her joy- inducing palette, dynamic designs and profound, succinct messages.
Her intensely coloured, geometric forms for the roof of Temple Station will create expansive and immersive floorscapes over which the public is invited to wander, absorbing the positive dynamism of the Paradise she has created.
The 1,400 sqm Temple Station roof terrace is a secret place unknown to all but the few Londoners who can see it from their elevated places of work, or who descend from nearby building sites for lunch. Invisible from the street, it is reached by well-worn steps with foreboding gates at the top of which a massive space opens up with the tops of the trees at eye level, crowned by the sky.
Lakwena’s intervention responds to the sensation the site gives of being raised up into the air, heavenward. She has long been interested in the ‘myth of paradise’ and our subconscious desire and ability to see and feel it in our earthly lives. Her Artist’s Garden aims to be a contemporary and human vision of Paradise. Using interlocking tiles as if they were pixels or stitches to create a series of pathways and portals across the roof, she has created a haven above the turbulent world below - an oasis of coloured calm.
A specially constructed Artist’s Hut is modelled on the iconic Cabman’s Shelter nearby and creates a safe space within the safe space - an important theme in her recent HomePlace body of work where she painted the inside of her home as a site of resistance to oppression against young black men during the lockdown.
The four simple words ‘Nothing Can Separate Us’ seen at the entrance to The Artist’s Garden are a powerful spiritual message open to many different interpretations - profound love, connections physical and spiritual, the strength of bonds unseen. Lakwena has made it her mission to communicate her seemingly simple and universal words to the world – in fact, her name literally means ‘Messenger of God’ in the Acholi language of northern Uganda.