A stone’s throw from the Southbank (well, if you outstandingly good at stonethrowing anyway) is St John’s church. It’s an elegant building, with a graceful spire.
In the surrounding garden yesterday evening, I saw a couple arrive and set out a picnic supper on the grass, enjoying the warm sunshine. I sat for a few minutes on a comfortable bench before heading home.
But when the sun goes down, the scene changes outside this beautiful church. Homeless people gather and vans arrive with volunteers serving food.
The church is also the headquarters of Southbank Mosaics, an outfit begun by ex-teacher David Tootill, dedicated to beautifying ugly areas, and the garden is full of examples of its work.
There are planters:
A mosaiced sculpture of the Owl and the Pussycat:
And a wonderful undulating bench that owes more than a little to Gaudi:
Close up you see there are names inscribed on ceramic leaves:
For this is a memorial to those people living on the streets and who have used the garden and facilities at St John’s who have died.