Tomorrow 125: Exploring Garden Cities through the arts

Planning is both a technical and an artistic endeavour. The TCPA has been exploring its artistic heritage in the context of the Garden City movement and environmental education. An acute awareness of the power of art in the creation of places and thinking about social transformation has emerged from this process. You can find out more about the TCPA’s work on Art and Planning here.

Art in the Garden City movement

The pioneers of the Garden City movement put great emphasis on the role of arts and culture in improving wellbeing as part of a co-operative approach to society.

Housing with a heart

Poet Eileen Gbagbo performs ‘Housing with a heart’.
Housing with a Heart
By Eileen Gbagbo 
I read something in the news about a Peckham estate 
Where a poet saw an angel drop onto the concrete pavement 
His mother’s tears broke through the fog 
I’m sorry, she said. I’m sorry 
This community could not hold you 
I’m sorry this community could not catch you 
On the walk home, I saw a butterfly 
Emerge from the streets; it danced 
through Little Kumasi all the way to this Garden City 
Where the leaves were bright, and
cut through the muted tones of winter 
Here each mother builds her own small world 
Here each child is tall with expectations
Of the person they may become
Here remains the hunger for the stillness 
That comes after a reform
Nature demands that we listen to her again
This time, she sounds like the songs from a neighbours garden 
She sounds like discovering a child’s laughter
She sounds like the rhythms of safety
I know what it means to move from one place to another
I know what it means to make a home 
I know that love is a community undivided 
I know that life can be certain
That life can be without crises, economic or otherwise. 
What is better than believing 
That we are heading towards housing with a heart? 
I now have the courage to see this vision

To celebrate the end of the Tomorrow 125 project in 2023, the TCPA commissioned an original poem ‘Housing with a heart’ from poet Eileen Gbagbo.

Performance pieces

The TCPA’s performance pieces ‘Love, Life and Liberty’ and ‘Land of Promise’ have demonstrated how the arts can provide a powerful tool for engaging new and existing audiences in the debate about the future and the places we create:

Love, Life and Liberty

‘Love, Life & Liberty’ is a celebration of the TCPA’s past utopian ideals. These values were artistic, collectivist, cooperative and occasionally eccentric, but most of all they were practical; building real places that immeasurably improved the lives of millions of ordinary people. The readings and songs in ‘Love, Life & Liberty’ give a small taste of the debate about land and freedom which has raged in England since the 17th century.

Land of Promise 

‘Land of Promise’ is a words and music presentation featuring guest readers, and musicians. It journeys through three and a half centuries of radical thought, writing, and song about the connection between art, social justice and the living environment. Through the words of radical thinkers and activists spanning William Morris and Edward Carpenter to Bruce Springsteen and Benjamin Zephaniah, Land of Promise explores that perpetual but urgent question at a time of global crises – ‘How are we going to live?

musicians Chris Ellis and Rosie Toll perform Land and Promise, 2023.