Former church Dilston Grove relaunches as large scale contemporary art venue

By Culture24 Staff Published: 28 May 2010

a photograph of an interior of a former church building with exposed roof beams and high perpendicular roof

Inside the revamped Dilston Grove

A former disused church in London’s Southwark Park, which for the last decade has served the capital’s artistic community as a contemporary art space, has re-opened its doors this week as a spectacular venue for large-scale contemporary art.

Dilston Grove, an historic Grade II listed former church, has been in continual use as a temporary project space for artists and performers since 1999 but after being earmarked for redevelopment by Southwark Council it has been rescued by artists group GCP (formerly café gallery projects) who will now use it as a raw space for a planned series of site-specific installations.

The newly revamped space joins CGP’s purpose built gallery, a former derelict café located just a few minutes away in Southwark Park, which the group took over in 1984.

The inaugural show at Dilston Grove, Mémoire by Sammy Baloji opens on June 2 and launches an ambitious 25 year programme of art exhibitions. It is the first solo exhibition in the UK of work by the Congolese photographer and filmmaker.

Mémoire is produced in partnership with Autograph ABP and the Congolese performance artist Faustin Linyekula, the film addresses colonial violence, shattered dreams of independence and the postcolonial political fallout that exists within the Democratic Republic of Congo.

interior of a large building with a video screen at one end

(Above) Dilston Grove’s inaugural show is Mémoire by Sammy Baloji

Also on display is a new body of large-scale photographic work, specifically commissioned by Autograph ABP for the launch of Dilston Grove, which documents the exact site of Patrice Lumumba’s assassination in January 1961.

Lumumba was the independence leader who led the Congo out of colonialism and the first prime minster of the Republic of Congo, he was assassinated following a coup and to this day there are theories he was assassinated on the orders of the Belgian government.

Sammy Baloji's work shines a powerful spotlight on contemporary Congolese reality and examines the abuse of power and its legacy to reveal the devastating impact that exploitative cultures have on both society and the environment.

His video and photographic work calls for greater awareness of the localconsequences of ‘development’ and highlights the rights of local people.

The restoration of Dilston Grove was managed by CGP London and funded by the Cabinet Office for the Third Sector’s Community Assets Transfer Scheme (delivered by the BIG Lottery Fund), Arts Council England, English Heritage, the London Borough of Southwark and the City Bridge Trust.

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