MEMORY GARDENS ARCHIVE

"Memory Gardens", a vibrant community of people on the autistic and dyslexic spectrum has grown up around a real garden which now no longer exists. It was initially based within a piece of derelict land owned by the chairty "Action for Children" in Legard Road, in Highbury, north London. It ran between 2002-2009 when our contract was terminated at the height of the financial downturn and the land was sold for housing. We ran art programs, growing projects and sensory projects here for both adults and children.

The practices developed in this environment have informed the re-emergence of Memory Gardens as the "Hand and Sky" schools project both with children on the autistic spectrum and with children with PMLD. The work we do through body-work, sound-making, movement and play in Special Needs schools, traces this interest in pattern-making. We have moved the arena to direct experience of the body at the minute level of breath, muscular tone and sonic affect in the relationship between child and Carer/Practitioners but the work and approach are the same. We want to create reliable frames together where we notice change and follow it with interest as it opens us up to experience and to wider and deeper ways of percieving the world together.

Below is an excerpt of a document that was handed in to "Action for Children" at the end of our project there .

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ENVIRONMENT OF LIVING PATTERNS

An eight year self-organized sculpture Garden project initiated by autistic/dyslexic artists, gardeners, therapists and outdoor enthusiasts.

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(Excerpt)

The garden was set up as a way of building up a memory for simple movements and acts that on their own could appear to educators or care-providers to be nonsensical or un-productive.

In the garden we wanted to create a living practice between all those who visited, whether autistic adults, children, care-professionals or parents. This could act like a note-book that included the gestures of many and allowed them to operate together.

In simple domestic tasks we all create a semblance of a whole and rarely do break down into component parts the actual procedures for making a cup of tea, walking from room to room, stopping mid-track as a thought appears to us, sounding that out through a walk in the park or a casual chat between appointments.

We wanted Memory Gardens to be such a place of incidental meetings. An informal pause-gap that could mean many different things to different people and whose joint meaning was adapted in an on-going way according to small acts that in various ways affected one another

Ruth Solomon, Coordinator, Dec 2008

Memory Gardens Circa 2008