Museum of London Docklands marks tenth anniversary with Estuary look at River Thames

By Rosie Murphy | 28 May 2013

Exhibition preview: Estuary, Museum of London Docklands, London, until October 27 2013

A photo of a painting of a coast in dark and light blue
Jock McFadyen, Dagenham© Jock McFadyen
Estuary marks the tenth anniversary of the Museum of London Docklands, and explores the place and perception River Thames holds both historically and in the present day.

Multimedia works of twelve London-based artists fill the blank canvas of the museum’s Chris Ellmers Gallery, giving a sense of the people and places that have made the river a landmark. The free exhibition presents photography, paintings, film and printmaking from the last thirty years, all inspired by the major shipping route.

Francis Marshall, Senior Curator for Estuary, says the exhibition will “give a sense of just what an extraordinary landscape London has on its doorstep”, and to explore “some of the issues which characterise the city’s relationship with the estuary today.”

He hopes to remind people of the intimate partnership the river and the city share.

Danish artist Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen has made London not only his home, but his muse in the creation of a new film. Reflecting the ebb and flow of the Thames itself it adds new chapters to his perception of the estuary’s character as the exhibition continues.

Commissioned in collaboration with the Film and Video Umbrella, ‘Portrait of a River’, captures the Thames’ historical importance in an ever-changing London.

The exhibition also contains important existing works such as William Raban’s 1986 Thames Film. His vision for the film was to investigate its relationship to the open sea and personify the river itself, which he says has “changed dramatically in the intervening 27 years”.

“But essentially the power of the river remains timeless and will always be a rich source of  inspiration for artists.”

Seafort Project is the remarkable record of Stephen Turner’s thirty six solitary days on the Shivering Sands Seafort searchlight tower. Created to represent the significance of structures in reminding us of a world gone by, he sees the film as homage to the men of the Second World War stationed to protect London.

Estuary is a discovery of the ways in which the Thames has acted as playground, home, and haven to Londoners. However it also considers the controversy of a possible airport emerging to rival Heathrow.

The uneasy alliance of river and city in the face of transport and energy generating proposals gives a darker tone to the artists’ adulations.

  • Open 10am-6pm. Admission free. Visit the museum on Twitter @MuseumOfLondon.

More pictures:

A photo of an aqua-coloured painting
Michael Andrews, Thames Painting© The Estate of Michael Andrews, courtesy James Hyman Gallery, London / Pallant House Gallery, Chichester
An overhead photo of a coastal resort
Simon Roberts, Southend Pier (2011)© Simon Roberts, courtesy Flowers Gallery
A photo through a small hole of a vessel at sea
Stephen Turner, Neighbour© Stephen Turner
A photo of a building by a coast in sunlight
Peter Marshall, Estuary© Peter Marshall
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