South London Gallery garden by Gabriel Orozco, 2016 (c) Gabriel Orozco. Photography: Andy Stagg

Artist Gabriel Orozco has teamed up with 6a Architects to create an ‘active’ sculpture garden at the South London Gallery.

The garden is decoratively paved in York stone – off-cuts of the ubiquitous paving slabs used in neighbouring streets – using a pattern devised from a grid of overlapping circles. The meandering path weaves its way between dips and mounds, ponds and seating areas.

Orozco conceived the garden as a platform for different activities. While it has the status of a sculptural work, ‘it is still a garden to use,’ he says.

Sitting at the back of the gallery, it also connects South London Gallery’s Clore Studio events and education space – completed by 6a in 2010 – with the neighbouring Sceaux Gardens housing estate, with whom it run arts programmes.

Geometric grids and circles are familiar tropes in Orozco’s work, but the Mexican-born artist says that he was also inspired by piles of building materials that accumulated during 6a’s renovation of the site. A fragmented mound sheltering the garden’s fountain was built out of yellow bricks taken from the gallery’s back wall.

Planting was undertaken in consultation with horticulturalists from Kew Gardens, who advised on species that would flourish among bricks and slabs in the London climate. While the structure appears sparse, it will transform in future years into a suite of green volumes.

Stephanie Macdonald of 6a notes that Orozco did have one unusual stipulation – that the garden had a secluded area for lovers. ‘You can’t have a garden without a kissing corner!’ said Orozco.

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