Monday, December 17, 2007

In Search Of The London Stone

For the past week I have been working on the foreshore of the Thames, set down from the usual movements of the city, to be by the Thames is to step back into London’s past. Researching materials at various sites along the riverside in the centre of London I have been gathering information and observing, collecting, catalogueing and collating specific materials to be used in a series of art works, this series of works is expanding all the time as I respond to my findings by the river side. Under a low winter sun, in freezing temperatures I have seen the hidden London, historical artefacts abound, etched stonework, building debris, the tide laps at the shore with changing intensity as river craft of different sizes go past, various plastics and rubbish float by. The tides reveal and then reclaim the foundations of our city, the discarded remnants of activities that one would not like to reflect on for too long, a three legged bull-terrier cast to the water in death, snatched moments for marking the city, graffiti, tags, impromptu interventions in the fabric of the city hidden from view from all but those few that venture along the river or take a few precious moments of solitude in these places only accessible when the tide allows. Beachcombers, a young man and woman making an approximation of a snowman but with estuarine sand, a sandman if you like, a smoking driftwood fire, an occasional tourist dropping down to the quiet unseen London. Cracked and broken words on rubble, ceramic and stone, voices and histories incomplete, torn and split from their homes and thrown to the bed of the city.

Stepping back into the present by ascending the stairs that bring you back to the familiar London is to step away and out of a melancholic but comforting world, I feel engaged to a history of London that is only evident in these few places, able to return to the present once the tide claims back its territory. For the next few months I will continue charting a London that is all my own, a wonderful place of solitude, a unique place in this ever changing, fast paced city that allows me to find a quiet place of my own but only so long as the river will allow me to.


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