The proposal

/The proposal
The proposal 2019-04-26T10:20:45+00:00

Our vision

Main elements of the revitalised Camden Gardens Sculpture Park will include:

  • An all-electric, fully equipped bar and kitchen
  • A free-standing marquee (a standard 8m x 15m marquee which will hold approximately 200 people standing or 100 seated and will not make any contact with the arches)
  • Four or five fixed pieces and two or three plinths that we will invite guest artists to fill, so creating a constant feed of new visitors
  • A wall (‘living’ or a less expensive eco-friendly version) along the length of the Camden Street side, at least 2.5 metres high which will act as a sound dampener and also a blank canvas for painted and print art (in addition to a few locations and canvases throughout the park including under the arches).

As well as established relationships with local sculptors, artists, galleries and creative spaces the proposers for the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park have ties to many Camden and London-wide and national art organisations which we feel (and in some cases have assurances) will be eager to loan some great works. Security to safeguard any installations is a concern and costings for an enhanced presence factors into the budget planning.

Apart from creating a non-intimidating and barrier-less access to arts and culture for the local community, people working in the area and visitors from around the world, the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park could have a real local impact and also true global reach. In addition to the art, a series of events could be developed in order to help enhance people’s general well-being and lives.

The curatorial vision and programme for the park will be focussed on the following areas:

  • Commissions for the park
  • Emerging Artists’ Fellowship and artists in residence scheme (among others)
  • Community engagement: creative workshops, talks and art and music events.

More broadly, the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park could act as a break spot from the usual Camden tourist haunts, the crowded lock, market and large-scale developments in the area.

There is also a great opportunity to take advantage of the proximity and intersection of the Regents Canal path and the Camden markets in the context of the redevelopment of King’s Cross. For example, Coal Drops Yard provides an excellent walking cultural circuit for the park to be included alongside well known and established tours such as the Camden Street Art Tours.

Proposed site plan

Suggested improvements from 2015 consultancy

Community suggestion priority improvementsCamden Council suggested features
Create a space where people feel safe to sit and walk throughImprove visibility through the site by cutting trees back and removing some planting
Increase visibility into the space and through the siteIncrease areas of lawn and provision of seating for informal recreation
Upgrade the paths including replacing existing surfacingRemoval and replacement of dead trees with flowering varieties
Provide a better provision for seatingCreate a focal square and potential events space by introducing decorative paving
Prevent anti-social behaviour under the archesEnhance planting with flowering and groundcover shrubs and herbaceous borders to retain decorative character
Enhance the open space’s visual appeal, including a variety of plantingContinue discussions with Network Rail to prevent antisocial behaviour and explore future opportunities for the space under the arches

Bureaucratic complexity

One of the complications with Camden Gardens is its status. It is part common land and part Network Rail managed land (under the arches). This is a historic, ongoing and arguably unresolved issue which reflects the complexity of delivering this project.

There are layers of bureaucracy that it would seem cannot be dealt with using ordinary means of commercial negotiation or council/community co-operation. It will require a different and particular effort of will to make this unusual space function, as a public park or any other type of enterprise.

Camden Gardens remains something of an anomaly and is, unquestionably, a detriment to the immediate vicinity. The pollution, the unsavoury characters that seem drawn to the arches, and the general feeling of foreboding are still present.

Additionally, the ownership of pseudo public space or privately owned public space (“pops”) is a real and contentious issue. There are currently seven instances of “pops” in Camden. From a social standpoint, the revitalisation of Camden Gardens also reflects a commitment to the idea of public space especially when considering the history of the park.

Strategic fit

This proposal is organised to align with established Camden administrative and business protocols, business architecture, policies and existing or planned initiatives, projects and programmes.

Where applicable, alignment to related London-wide initiatives have also been identified. This includes:

Camden Town Unlimited (see Camden Highline)The London Borough of Culture Initiative (Camden received a Culture Impact Award in February 2018*)
Green Camden*The Camden Alive project (the creation of augmented reality ‘culture routes’)
Public space and park design and features innovations from the Camden ‘West End Project’The London Creative Enterprise Zones Initiative
Camden SparkThe London Culture & the Night-Time Economy Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG)
Camden 2025Regeneration Project: Camden Town (Camden Town is set to receive £2.2m from the Mayor’s Regeneration Fund)
Camden CanCrowdfund London: Create. Fund. Launch
Camden Art CentreCurrent London Plan (see Policy 7.5 Public Realm, Policy 7.14 Improving Air Quality, Policy 7.18 Protecting Open Space and Addressing Deficiency, etc.)
Camden Town Local Plan (see for example, Policy A2 Open Space, Policy C1 Health and Wellbeing, Policy C3 Cultural and Leisure Facilities, etc.)Future London Plan (see for example, Policy G4 Local Green and Open Space, Policy G5 Urban Greening, Policy SI1 Improving air quality, etc.)
Knowledge Quarter (Community Champions)

Camden Gardens is outside the proposed area for the recent Draft Kentish Town Planning Framework commissioned in early 2018, but we uphold the imperatives of this initiative. The Framework highlights broad issues (‘Weaknesses’), including:

  • Inefficient use of land
  • Underused rail arches
  • A poor sense of arrival

This project also aligns with a number of the five overarching themes from the Framework, for example:

  • Public open spaces (#4) and Community and Culture Growth (#5): “The council aims to promote strong and healthy communities and improve access to open space”.

Delivery Model and Team

This project will be overseen by an appointed committee. Full- time, part-time and volunteer staff will help with running the café, arts programme and events.

Artistic direction: Michael Murphy

Project management and delivery: Adam Tupper

Delivery partners:

  • National Rail/Network Rail
  • Camden Council
  • Alpha Rail
  • Kentish Town Neighbourhood Forum (KTNF)
  • Outdoor Camden / Quadron Services (Idverde)

Fundraising: Michael Murphy and Adam Tupper

Marketing, PR and website: Michael Murphy, Adam Tupper and Steve Caplin

Additional roles

Technicians and art handling

Legal and finance

Kitchen/serving/maintenance/security staff


Internship (to offer overall support for the project as an educational/professional development experience)


Delivery is based on three broad phases with a number of work streams.

Following approval of the proposal, a more detailed Implementation Plan will be developed as part of the Project Charter and in the Project Management Plan.

The more detailed plan (and budget) will be based on agreed specific goals and desired outcomes that are interwoven, clearly defined,measurable and where applicable time-dependent. It will also include anumber of choices, financial options and phased implementation overthe short and medium to longer term based on success and external factors such as funding availability.

The detailed plan will also contain milestones, evaluation/review gates, effort level and requisite skills required for each work stream (etc.) with the addition of exit or downgrading options if necessary. The overall delivery of this proposal will not develop or proceed in isolation.

From the beginning efforts will be made to ensure that the delivery of the proposal is based on collaboration, elicitation and validation with stakeholders.


  • Approval, funding and planning
  • Start up and launch
  • Partnership relations and legal
  • Communications and engagement
  • Facilities and space creation
  • Human resources
  • Artistic direction, curatorial vision and programming

Work streams

Approval, funding and planningPresent proposal & agree to move forward (*obtain permissions)
Complete detailed ‘Implementation Plan’
Raise initial £50,000 via donations and sponsorship
Establish a Friends & Patrons Scheme
Bid for Camden Council, Mayor of London and Trusts & Foundations initiatives
Possibly launch a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign (if required)
Partnership relations and legalEstablish relationships w/Alpha Rail, Network Rail & Camden Council (Outdoor Camden / Quadron Services (Idverde))
Establish relationship with a security company
Set up as a charity (or partnership)
Set up Board of Trustees
Secure legal & accountancy representation & advice (for security related issues)
Obtain relevant permits
Communications and engagementMeet with relevant stakeholders
Hold open forum events & presentations
Create & launch website
Establish regular stakeholder meetings/updates
Facilities and spaceSource running water & three-phase power
Agree schedule of works
Agree delivery & installation schedule of infrastructure and art
Open café/bar, multi-use venue and related facilities
Human resourcesAdvertise for staff
Design volunteers and internship scheme
Artistic direction, curatorial vision and programmingAgree initial commissions for the park
Design Emerging Artists’ Fellowship and artists in residence scheme & launch first residency
Design schedule of creative workshops, talks and art and music events & pilot events
Camden and London-wide initiativesAlign with & make use of Camden and London-wide Initiatives


Estimated start-up costs are approximately £50,000 depending on permissions etc.

Funds will be raised through:

  • Donations and sponsorship
  • Friends & Patrons Scheme
  • Camden Council, Mayor of London and Trusts & Foundations initiatives
  • And possibly a Kickstarter or other crowdfunding campaign (if required)

Once the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park is up and running, its operation is planned to be fully self-funding. Costs to fully staff and provide security will vary depending on what licence and accompanying permissions are granted for use on the site. Simply put, the longer the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park and its proposed facilities are open and manned, the lower the cost of basic security.

It is proposed that Camden Gardens Sculpture Park (arts hub, with a café/bar, multi-use venue and related facilities) will be set up and run as a charity (or partnership) with a board of trustees.

Artistic director

Michael Murphy, born in 1967 and raised in Tufnell Park, has lived and worked on Kentish Town Road since 1990.

He is the proprietor of the flaxon ptootch salon and gallery at 237 Kentish Town Road.

For over 25 years, flaxon ptootch has exhibited the work of predominantly local and emerging artists on a monthly basis. During this time, flaxon ptootch has become known for its exhibitions and art events, which include a broad spectrum of artistic, musical and creative performances.

Beyond arts and cultural programming, flaxon ptootch also acts as a pop-up spot transforming into a restaurant, tailor, craft market and boutique. Michael has hosted a number of discussion groups, political hustings, community interest events and lectures on a variety of subjects including the impact of genetically modified food, fracking, Brexit and the EU.

Michael is one of the driving forces behind the Alma Street fair, responsible for booking and managing the headline acts, the sound systems and stages, leading the art team and organising the highly successful local businesses raffle.

Through these combined experiences and endeavours Michael has built relationships with a wide range of individuals, groups and organisations in the area, and on discussion of the Camden Gardens Sculpture Park project, has been met with unanimous enthusiasm, excitement and a willingness to help out.