Public Garden Solutions

19th Aug - 9th Oct 2023 - Turf Projects

photo of an urban garden

Part of Desire Paths

Sam Wills (artist) and Lira Valencia (ecologist) are two friends who first met while working as teenage cashiers at Ikea Croydon. Their collaborative project Public Garden Solutions combines Lira’s expertise in urban wildlife and nature conservation with Sam’s public realm artistic practice. Via creative public gardening interventions, community and educational workshops and discussions, and a number of strategically placed swift bird boxes that double as public sculptures, the project aims to explore the possibility of a human and non-human coalition in service of local interests.

Photo of the No 1 Croydon also known as the 50p building.

Playing out over the long term, the project hopes to create the conditions for an ongoing discussion regarding Croydon’s biodiversity and reveal any future planning decisions that may undermine the security of its local ecology.

Engaging with the changing landscape of Croydon, which is navigating between threats to public spaces and the promises of a profit-driven regeneration, the project hopes to nest itself within this gap of uncertainty.


Join us in one of our numerous events or workshops! If you’d like to assist us by getting your hands dirty by gardening in unusual spots throughout the borough, or by taking part in a discussion regarding the relationship between developments and the local wildlife communities keep your eyes peeled.

Photo of IKEA Croydon with birds in the foreground.

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About the Artists

Lira is a Croydon based naturalist, content creator and nature reserve Ranger. Through her social media channel, she aims to introduce a diverse audience to nature while also highlighting ecology within urban contexts. Her content hopes to address issues related to diversity within the outdoor community and seeks to make wildlife accessible.  Lira has worked with a range of different wildlife conservation organisations and charities, has co-founded a Croydon based community garden @soulfoodgardenn and currently works as a ranger at Walthamstow Wetlands. Sam’s artistic practice frequently explores the idea of the unannounced encounter, using incognito methods of display and alternative means of distribution as his primary artistic medium, Sam’s work intervenes within peripheral spaces and structures to highlight networks usually rendered invisible. Sam has recently exhibited a collaborative project (with Lydia Porter) titled A Place Bears The Name at Tension Gallery, has had writing published by Metal Institute and has exhibited both in London and abroad in Belgium.

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