‘Deckchair Dreams’ is a Royal Parks Foundation fundraiser, where luminaries from various fields contribute designs for the hireable deckchairs in Royal Parks. It costs more than £30million a year to look after the parks’ upkeep, so the £4 you pay to enjoy three hours chilling and people watching is money well spent. The ‘Deckchair Dreams’ scheme’s been running for seven years, and the really clever part is that past years’ canvases don’t wind up mouldering at the back of some giant potting shed; with input from handbag maestro Bill Amberg, they’re recycled to make limited-edition totes. Here’s six of this year’s deckchair contributors explaining their designs and what London’s parks mean to them.
Harry Enfield, comedian
‘I use a Royal Park daily – the great thing about London is it’s so green. I try to get to St James’s once a week and go to Regent’s Park and Hyde Park most days. I used to sit on a deckchair in 1982 overlooking the Serpentine writing my first rubbish in the late but hot autumn of that year. I loved the ducks there, the mallards, tufteds, and these pochards. “Hello Ducks” is your traditional cockney greeting.’
Maggie Hambling, artist
‘Since my first sighting, aged four, of a heron, this bird has appeared often in my work. The heron inhabits almost every park in London and my deckchair will, I hope, encourage people to look for and watch these exotic and magical creatures. [The parks] are precious oases which must at all costs remain.’
Luke Jerram, artist
‘“Just Sometimes” was an installation artwork I presented in Rotterdam for the Witte de Withe Festival 2010. Around 1,000 umbrellas were installed [upside down] over a 300m length of the canal for the pubic to enjoy during the three- day festival. During the festival hundreds of the public took photos of the artwork on their mobile phones and cameras. Even the driver of the local tram was spotted making an impromptu stop and abandoning his passengers in order to get out his camera and take a quick snap. As the artwork was removed the end of the festival all the umbrellas were handed out to passing pedestrians. Nice to have big parks in a city.’
‘The Royal Parks, more than anything else, give London its special quality. The city is unimaginable without them. I normally only draw images of everyday, manmade objects. I chose to draw the bunch of bananas because more than most natural objects they look “designed” in our sense as much as in nature’s.
Miranda Richardson, actres
‘There is a reason for everything in nature. Even blue feet on the blue footed booby. What makes these clownish and loveable-looking birds such devastating fishers is the reflection of the light off the water onto their extremities, rendering them practically invisible to their prey as they enter the dive. Not such boobies after all! Lucky to have them and especially the many beautiful trees which are vital to our quality of air and life in a big city.’
Lucy & Jorge Orta, artists
‘A city without trees and parks is like a river without water. It would be missing a vital source of life that harbours a wealth of biodiversity that is so necessary for the equilibrium of our planet. Parks are the oasis within concrete deserts. We hope that our “Cloud’ artworks can empower the audience to become more aware of the wonderful gift of water that we need to protect and share equitably. We hope that the visitors to the parks, relaxing in the deckchair, will look up to the sky and be reminded about nature’s gift – that we should use wisely.’
Look out for other designs, including some produced as part of outreach work with local schoolchildren and participants from Age UK, in Hyde Park, Regent’s Park, St James’s Park, Kensington Gardens and Green Park.
For more information, and to purchase the deckchairs (£80-£135) and totes (£45) visit supporttheroyalparks.org.