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THE THAMES - LONDON'S MIGHTY RIVER
215 miles long. The source is at Thames Head, Gloucestershire. The mouth is at the Thames Estuary, Southend. It enters our city at Teddington. It has a rise and fall of 7 metres. It is fed by 38 named tributaries. It drains the whole of Greater London.
When I began to research The Thames for the show, I discovered our great river triggers an emotional response. Its muddy waters have inspired poets, writers, artists alike including me. Monolithic and overwhelming in places, twee and babbling in others, it provides us with a rare open space that constantly changes with the tide – a welcome counterbalance to the order and structure of the modern metropolis that is London. People have swum in it, wept into it. Londoners cross over it and under it every day. Moving, rushing, sucking, The Thames harbours thousands of years of treasures and detritus of a huge groaning city. Shards of Roman pottery sit alongside decaying carcasses of traffic cones and shopping trolleys. It is more than a simple geographical feature. It has a life and an energy of its own.
For this series, my work is based on formal associations which open a unique poetic vein. I have used bodies of the text I discovered, from the poems of Rudyard Kipling to the lyrics of a song by the Kinks, to fuel my work. Some of the text appears in the paintings. Sometimes it lies hidden beneath the paint, like the secrets the Thames conceals.