'Bold Tendencies' is the country’s most unconventional summer sculpture park, an annual exhibition over the top floors of a multi-storey car park in Peckham in South London, a short walk from Peckham Rye train station. Rather than rolling hills or picturesque forests, the works of the participating artists respond each year to a grimy example of Brutalist inner-city architecture.
With the exhibition now in its sixth incarnation, the organisers have invited contributions from six international artists, all of them under the age of 45. Glasgow-born Mary Redmond has been given a prime spot – a sweeping section of Level 7, the first storey in the show – and, out of all the commissions, her expansive sculptural environment makes the most out of the specifics of the unusual site. It features scores of painted bamboo shoots that are wedged between the ground and ceiling, producing a kind of alternative woodland to wander around. The installation also comprises corrugated sheets of metal collapsed in knee-high crumples, as well as tessellations on the floor of cyan slabs whose bright colour beckons the visitor through the slate-grey space.
Mary Redmond, 'Seven Split Overglide', 2012. Bamboo, paving, slabs, acrylic paint, masonry paint, corrugated metal, clothes racks, woven bags, cable ties, linen thread, dimensions variable.
Peles Empire is a collaboration between German Katharina Stoever and Romanian-born Barbara Wolff, both RA Schools alumni. Wherever they are presented around the world, their site-specific installations always draw some of their inspiration from a set source: the nineteenth-century Peleș Castle, formerly a retreat for the Romanian monarchy and a hotch-potch of diverse architectural and interior design styles. For ‘Bold Tendencies’ they show a fountain formed from a large concrete cuboid; the material is a nod to the car park’s architecture, but the fountain is tiled with a warped two-tone image from Peles.
Peles Empire, 'Fountain I', 2012. Concrete, wood, ceramics, zinc, pump, water 350cm x 350cm x 280cm.
But although these and the other four works are all worth contemplation in their different ways, two of the real draws to the car park are not related to art. There is a restaurant and a well-stocked bar outdoors on the roof (serving from 11am to 11pm from Thursday to Sunday, which is when ‘Bold Tendencies’ is open), plus one of the most unencumbered views of the city’s iconic buildings that I have ever seen. Facing north and panning from east to west, one can see the O2, Canary Wharf, the Gherkin, Shard, St Paul’s, BT Tower, the Strata skyscraper, London Eye and even Battersea Power Station.
I recommend you come with friends, allowing time for a meal or drink as the sun sets, and coincide the visit with one of the events that are being staged. This Saturday, for instance, sees the car park present a 100-piece orchestra playing a composition by John Adams.