Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Creekery #2 at Creekside Open: Day 18

Creekery #2 has now been in the Creek for eighteen days and has been open to public viewing for 8 of those. There are another 4 days to go before Creekside Open closes (May 29th).

A young collector has expressed an interest in buying the installation, but it has been very hard to arrive at a realistic price. I have taken advice from gallerist Bea de Souza (The Agency) who has made some helpful suggestions on how to present the work for the buyer that is of museum standards. A fantastic photograph of the piece is an important part of this.

Charles Shearer took some photos in the first week, and is coming again today. But here are four from his first proofings...

I have also spent some considerable time trying to make a time lapse movie of the tide going out to reveal the plates, so far without success...

The installation has been cleaned by hand three or four times since going in – after three or four days silt builds up on the plates and begins to obscure the pattern, damping down the contrast of the blue with the green. It is very tempting to leave them to become covered in mud. If I had not cleaned them, they would be white/off-grey by now with no pattern visible at all.

The problem with going in to wipe the plates clean is that muddy black footprints are left behind. After one tide, the deep footprints fill with water and soften so that after the next tide, they show up as dimples in the green carpet. Creekside Open's co-ordinator was keen to have a less dimpled mudbank and sparkling plates for when The Culture Show visit on Friday for SLAM (South London Art Map Last Fridays). On the off chance Creekery #2 might be filmed, yesterday I purchased a 30 metre garden hose and attempted to hose the plates down without leaving any footprints, but the jet wasn't strong enough to disperse the ingrained silt.

Perhaps that is Creekery #3 – the plates and Creek left to their own devices, as was inferred in my original text...

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Highly accomplished watercolourist Jonathan Pike came by the show today and told me he'd recently been painting pottery shards and had found much of his pieces on the Kent coast in places such as Halstow (where I have mudlarked too). He sent me these pix...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Creekery #2 Installation: Day 4 : Wednesday 11 May

Charles comes to take photographs, but the weather's a bit iffy. Emma has come to help clean the plates. They have become fairly dirty over three days. However if we go down and clean them Charles will have our footprints in his pictures, so he goes down and takes some pix before we begin cleaning...
On Monday I had hung a large print in the hut. It's a blow-up of Charles's photograph of the autumn 2010 Ha'Penny Hatch installation. The Creekside co-ordinator Liz May had asked me for a print of the photo submitted and chosen by Dexter Dalwood. I got two pics blown up, not sure which was best. Liz's idea was that people who come to the show when the tide is fully in can see what it might look like when the tide is out. The new installation looks quite different from the photo, not just because it's a different location but because the mud is much, much greener at this time of year.

I'm not sure what to do about the objects already in the hut – for instance, a large plaster head of Marilyn Munroe...
A koot takes a walk through the plate garden...
When Charles has left, Emma and I take a walk up the Creek. Coming back I get another perspective...
...and sunny side up...
Emma and I were just in time to grab a panini from Creekside Cafe before it closed at 4pm, and we ended the day in my studio exploring the possibilities of making a time lapse film of the tide coming in and going out...Webcam? SLR with Timer Remote Control? i-Sight on a laptop with Gawker? We were quite tickled by Pet Cam...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Creekery #2 installation

Day One - Saturday 7th May

Rain was forecast, with low-tide at 10.45am, so we used this day to transport the crocks over to the APT yard and store them and equipment (waders, sticks, basket, rope) in the little hut situated on the riverwall of the APT yard. Typically, the forecast was misleading, and Saturday turned into a beautiful day.

Ten days ago, I went on a Creekside Walk and put in five plates as a test. Over this period, which had been very dry and often sunny, silt had built up on the plates and almost totally obscured the blue pattern. The mud had dried almost white like china clay.

Day Two - Sunday 8th May

Emma was a theatre carpenter in a previous life with lots of experience backstage up in the flys, and fully used to heights and steep Jacob ladders. She's first down into the Creek, ready to receive the materials...


End of Day Two...tide coming in fast at 2.15pm, some tweaking to do tomorrow...

Day Three - Monday 9th May

Low-tide is 11.45. Lisa is helping today. She says low-tide is 12.45. An experienced Thames mudlarker (and an archaeologist in a previous life) she reads the tides at London Bridge, not Woolwich as I have been taught.  I have a few more pieces to add to the installation which must be fetched over from my studio. At 12.45, Lisa's on rope duty...

Today, APT is hanging the show in the gallery with the selector Dexter Dalwood. Meanwhile, down the road, Creekside Centre is holding a launch to announce its sponsorship from Thames Water and its new name, Creekside Discovery Centre. There's lots going on, including a school's walk in the Creek. At 1.15pm, we are invaded by around 30 kids and three or four teachers, led by Nick Bertrand.

Nick refers to Lisa and myself as the River People and asks me to tell the kids what I'm doing. I fail to keep their attention as I struggle to describe the project. I try to tell them how dinner plates are just mud that's been heated in a hot fire (not totally accurate!), how the project started when I found all the bits of pottery in the water, how the plate design is 220 years old and people used to throw their rubbish in the river then....I even lose the teacher's interest, but that is probably because they are more concerned with policing the children who are extremely over excited. I think I might have just shown the kids that the picture on the plate shows a Creek and a bridge and birds and trees and leave it at that.

Lisa stands guard at the onslaught of nine year olds...
I am watching the shadow being created by the DLR flyover. Charles Shearer is going to come down and take some photographs later in the week and I'm keen to know at what time this shadow moves.
Back up on the wharf, I survey what more needs to be done...

Around 2.30pm Lisa leaves, and I go back down to tweak a little more before the tide comes in. I'm accompanied by a pair of ducks...I find out later from Nick that these are Egyptian Geese – and although they have been seen in other parts of London, this is the FIRST EVER sighting of these geese in the Creek.

At 2.45, back on dry land, the tide is coming in fast, and the shadow has cleared the plates...

At 3.15pm, the tide has crept up the mudbanks and the shadow has gone...If Charles comes on Wednesday, low-tide will be around 1.45pm. If he comes on Thursday, low-tide will be 3pm, which will also be good for a shot of the entire installation with no shadows...depends on whether it's sunny or not of course.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Creekside Open 2011

I have been chosen to take part in the first half of Creekside Open 2011, selected by Dexter Dalwood. I will be installing Creekery at Harold Wharf, the area of the Creek which APT Studios and Gallery back onto. Here is the bare canvas...

The mudbank is completely different here to how it was at Ha'Penny Hatch back in September/October 2010 during Deptford X. It is shallower near the centre and much, much deeper next to the walls. The access at Ha'Penny Hatch was via the gentle slope of the Creekside Centre, but at this point in the Creek, a few hundred yards upstream, it is via a tall ladder from the wall of the wharf.

Work starts this weekend and Emma will be lending her invaluable assistance again. The crockery will have to be lowered by rope and basket from the APT yard down to the creek, before it can be 'planted'...

The show opens next Thursday with the Private View on Saturday 14th May, 3-6pm. As last time, it will only be visible at low-tide, and then again, only when the gallery is open (Thursday – Sunday, 12-5pm). Of course, either side of the low-tide times can be more the piece is revealed or disappears...It will not be viewable from the luxury flats opposite APT.

CREEKERY #2 approximate low-tide viewing times:

Thursday 12 May     1–5pm
Friday 13 May     2.30–5pm
Saturday 14 May     3.30–5pm
Sunday 15 May     4.45 –5pm

Thursday 19 May     1.45–5pm
Friday 20 May     12.15– 4.15pm
Saturday 21 May     12noon –1pm
Sunday 22 May     12noon–1.30pm

Thursday 26 May     12.45– 4.45pm
Friday 27 May     2–6pm
Saturday 28 May    3.15–5pm
Sunday 29 May    4.15–5pm


As last year, there is the opportunity for people to get close to the installation by taking a walk in the Creek. Meet at Creekside Centre, 14 Creekside SE8 4SA.
Participants need to be reasonably fit since you will be walking on the bed of a wild river. Waders, waterproofs and walking sticks are provided.

Monday 16 May, 6–8pm
Part of the Rivers & People Project. This event is FREE and open to children and adults alike. No booking required, just turn up on the day.

Sunday 22 May, 11am–1pm &
Saturday 28 May, 3.30–5.30pm

Organised by Creekside Education Trust. Adults: £10, Children & concessions £8.50, Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) £28.
Booking is essential (by email):