Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project

The Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project is conceived as providing the opportunity for invited artists to make work that can be seen in terms of a multi-faceted landscape model, using and connecting ideas which the garden invokes, makes possible and provokes.

The project will take place in seven parts of which six exhibitions have already taken place: Blue Sky Gardening, 2021, Ideas Travel Faster than Light (co-curated with Jasone Miranda-Bilbao), Notes of an Urban Pedestrian (co-curated with Clare Stent), 2019,  Group Portrait with Garden, 2018, En Plein Air, 2015, Changeable Conditions, 2012.

With thanks to the Mecklenburgh Square Garden Committee and Goodenough College. 

-Clair Joy

Blue Sky Gardening, 2021
An exhibition of artists’ garden proposals and propositions

Katja Aglert
Anika Barkan & Helene Kvint – CoreAct
The Bee Kingdom – Joy Amina Garnett
Big Pond Small Fish Laboratory
Agnes Cameron
Sophi Gardner
Clair Joy
Miyuki Kasahara
Sujit Mallik
De Onkruidenier
Sat 25 September to Tues 28 September
The artists in this exhibition use gardens as a medium, a way to take action as well as to re-think.  They explore the social and natural processes that run though gardens, prompting us to think about those processes, how they may change in the future, determining so much of what we do as well as the relationship we have with our co-inhabitors, including plants and animals. 
Works in this exhibition present proposals for gardens as a way of thinking about and responding to growing awareness of climate change and impending food insecurity, agriculture, a changing sense  of what the city is and can do and the resulting changing relationship between ‘the country and the city’. 
This exhibition looks at the work of artists who have made gardens part of their practice. They use gardens as a way of testing and exploring different facets of their practice as well as making apparent that gardens enable us, prompt us to ask questions, urging us to think about what the future could be. Blue-sky gardening.
Ideas travel faster than light, 2020
Co-curated by Clair Joy and Jasone Miranda-BilbaoSeptember 26th to 29th, 11am – 4pm


Ideas travel faster than light, the fifth exhibition in the Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project, brings the idea and question of the complex material connection between places, people and shared space on a global scale to the garden. The exhibition is a collaboration between the Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project (initiated by Clair Joy in 2012) and Jasone Miranda-Bilbao’s ongoing project Ideas travel faster than light. Jasone invited ten artists from India to submit proposals for new work, together with instructions of how to make them, and Clair invited ten artists from the UK and Canada to produce them according to their interpretation and understanding. 
As a modus operandi that sets up relations at distance, this exhibition could not have been better timed, and yet, it does not claim to point at the injustices of the world nor to offer a solution to the pressing problems that face us. Its relation to aesthetics and to what lies behind the artwork is somewhat different. It constitutes a relational configuration that stretches and contracts and  re-addresses the balance between the work of art and the ideas that lie behind it in a way that does not give authority to the power of one mode of production over the power of the other.
Further information about the works made for this exhibition in response to the instructions given by artists working in India can be downloaded by clicking the links below.
Notes of an Urban Pedestrian, 2019
Curated by Clare Stent and Clair Joy

 3 – 6 October 2019 
Anna Best, Alexandra Fontoura, Ellie Irons, Clair Joy, Kubra Khadema, PolakvanBekkum, Hermoine Spriggs, Clare Stent

How beautiful a street is in winter! It is at once revealed and obscured. Here vaguely one can trace symmetrical straight avenues of doors and windows; here under the lamps are floating islands of pale light through which pass quickly bright men and women, who, for all their poverty and shabbiness, wear a certain look of unreality, an air of triumph, as if they had given life the slip, so that life, deceived of her prey, blunders on without them. But, after all, we are only gliding smoothly on the surface. The eye is not a miner, not a diver, not a seeker after buried treasure. It floats us smoothly down a stream; resting, pausing, the brain sleeps perhaps as it looks. From Virginia Woolf, ‘Street Haunting: A London Adventure’, 1927

Taking Virginia Woolf’s text ‘Street Haunting’ about walking through and observing the city as a starting point, artists have been invited to exhibit in the garden of Mecklenburgh Square as part of the Mecklenburgh Square Garden Project. Woolf lived for a short period in the square during WWII. Artists included can be seen to identify with the flâneur, psychogeography, the political, public space and the communal. Each artist’s work engages and responds to the urban in different ways.
Group Portrait with Garden, 2018
Curated by Clair Joy
September 6–9, 2018
Perienne Christian, Barbara Einzig, Benedict Ernst and Helen Morse-Palmer, David George, Alison Gill, Clair Joy, Florian Roithmayr, Karin Ruggaber and Anne Ryan, Clare Stent, Suzanne Treister
Taking as a starting point the communal nature of the garden, invited artists explore and draw on ideas to do with shared space and communality within many varied spheres such as technology, history, the unconscious, popular culture and nature. Works in the exhibition connect to the garden itself, responding to the  multi-levelled experience in different ways, opening up ideas and possibilities in relation to wider connections in terms  of shared space and communality.
En Plein Air, 2015
Curated by Clair Joy
September 5–8, 2015
Bill Burns, Rebecca Byrne, Liz Elton, Cecile Johnson-Soliz, Jaspar Joseph-Lester, Clair Joy, Onya McCausland,  Selma Parlour, Barbara Pfenningstorff, Hilary Powell, Kathy Prendergast, Babette Semmer, Tom Wolseley
In contemporary philosophical and geographical thought, space and time are not separate entities but interconnected and mutually defining. Configurations of space and time are unpredictable because they are always changing in ways that are difficult to anticipate. This unpredictable configuration is how the concept of ‘place’ is now understood. Because of the associations between ideas of  landscape and place, this exhibition proposes that landscape in art also reflects these new understandings. The artists exhibiting in En Plein Air can be seen to invoke different scales of inter-relatedness, a sense of activity or an unpredictability that reflects and relates to new ideas about landscape. 
Changeable Conditions, 2012
Curated by Clair Joy
October 11–14, 2012
Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings, Veronique Chance, Rosy Head, Clair Joy, Mike Marshall, Jasone Miranda-Bilbao, Janette Parris and Tariq Alvi and Chris Gregory, Katie Pratt, Giorgio Sadotti, Kate Smith, Clare Stent, Liz Wright
Lunchtime running performance by Veronique Chance 1 o’clock everyday.
The processes, activities and space of the garden provide starting points, or an element of montage, for the work exhibited. Changeable Conditions takes the idea of the landscape connection with weather as a starting point for inviting artists whose work uses formal changeability or unpredictability that can be seen to allude to those forces in wider spheres. Other artists create  and focus more overtly on changes in perception and political change as their subject. 

Outside of Outside, 2013

Invited by Clair Joy, Giorgio Sadotti, Liz Wright
Exhibition design Giorgio Sadotti
26–27 October, 2013
Rachal Bradley, Judith Dean, Machiko Edmondson, Ella Finer / Kitty Finer, Lucy Gunning, Clair Joy, Matt Hale, Simon Liddiment, Matthew Richardson, Giorgio Sadotti, Rebecca Scott, Jack Strange, Elizabeth Wright
Outside of Outside