The London Bridge Clay Project, Southwark Cathedral, London
January 9th – 5 Feb 2017
The London Bridge Clay Project exhibition opens next week. It will be the first real public art exhibition that I have taken part in, not related to Central St Martins. Thanks to my comrades at the wonderful ceramic collective ACWU (The Associated Clay Workers Union) for including me in the project, we are now just days away from unveiling the work to the public. And thanks also to the wonderful people at Southwark Cathedral for inviting us to show in their Link, visitor entrance hall, a stone’s throw away from the site where the clay was dug up from under the London Bridge station. It is a free exhibition of work inspired by the lives and history of the London Bridge area.
The clay we used dates from 54 million years ago when dinosaurs walked the earth, and has not seen the light of day, until now. Its provenance is fascinating and awe-inspiring, but is not ideal for making ceramic work with, as it tends to crack when fired. My piece, “Oh gods, I think we have shot ourselves in the foot with Brexit” is no exception, but I feel that the inherent fragility and dis-function is appropriate to the subject matter.
You may remember my blog post last summer about this project, in which I talked about using a Roman foot-shaped oil lamp, that was dug up by archaeologists during the preparatory ground works for the renovation of London Bridge Station, as the starting point for my inspiration. The project has moved on since then, and become more current and urgent. A post-referendum cry to the gods for help.
The morning after the EU referendum, I woke up shattered by the Brexit result. The only way I could deal with my shock and anger was to channel it into my work.
I made the third foot also using the London Bridge clay, and I see it as an extension to my thinking about votive offerings made to the gods to ask for healing. The final piece going on display in Southwark, is made up of the three feet, and expresses my view that we have committed an act of self-harm by voting to leave the EU. If the Leave voters and Theresa May get their way, I fully anticipate that it will lead to the break-up of the United Kingdom, hence my severing of the toes representing Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Romans were the consummate Europeans. These three elements come together as an architypal offering to the gods for healing in this divided country.
Do come down and take a look, once you have recovered from your New Year’s hang over! It’s free, Southwark Cathedral is wonderful (and warm), and just next to Borough Market too, so perfect for a spot of lunch!The show is on for 4 weeks, but Diane Eagles of ACWU will be speaking about the genesis of the project and how we persuaded Network Rail to donate the clay to us, on Sunday 15th January 3pm in the Visitor Centre at Southwark Cathedral. Places are limited do please click here to book your seat.
The London Bridge Clay Project, is supported by the The Craft Pottery Charitable Trust. With many thanks to Network Rail and Costain. All photos Monica Wells/Network Rail