Questions & Answers (after Paul Celan)

The launch of a new permanent public art installation across the CGP gallery home, Southwark Park, by artist and poet Alec Finlay.

at CGP London

The project is a portrait of Southwark Park and our diverse local communities, which celebrates the rich biodiversity and stunning surroundings of our park and indeed the city’s parks as a whole in enriching our daily lives through colour, play and wellbeing.

Finlay was commissioned to write a new text piece responding to the gallery, our beautiful park and the rich social history of the local area and our neighbours.

Twenty-nine texts have been composed to date, referencing a question-and-answer form associated with Romanian-born German poet Paul Celan (1920-1970). Twenty of these playful texts have been selected to be emblazoned on a series of colourful nest boxes, to be permanently displayed across Southwark Park and CGP London’s gallery garden. Some of the poems relate to specific features within the park, such as the memorial tree, Ada Salter’s Rose Garden, the ice cream van and the dolphin sculptures. Others look out from their post beyond the park across to Rotherhithe, providing an imagined birds-eye view.

Each nest box and accompanying poem has been thoughtfully created in response to its given placement by Finlay, describing what the mind’s-eye can see when near to the individual box. As with previous nest-box projects by Finlay, colours have also been cleverly chosen to visually link to the specific surroundings of each box, such as the muted bricks of China Hall Gate, the burning copper of the Tree of Heaven in Ada Salter’s Rose Garden or the primary blue of the lake’s pedaloes.

These aesthetic nods to our immediate surroundings —often ignored as we are too busy to look up —also encourages us to imagine the bird’s-eye view of each box’s inhabitants.

The texts have been developed by the artist to respond to Southwark, including some slang and colonial dialect, drawing on urban dictionaries and suggesting the sharpness of urban wit, combined with a contemporary pastoral mood suited to the park.

A special reading at 3pm by Alec Finlay and poet Daisy Lafarge. Gallery staff will direct visitors to the location(s) chosen for the readings on the day.

CGP London

Opening Times
Launch: Sunday 18 March, 2-6pm

CGP London
Southwark Park
SE16 2UA