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PLATFORM works across disciplines for social and ecological justice. It combines the transformatory power of art with the tangible goals of campaigning, the rigour of in-depth research with the vision to promote alternative futures.
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Other PLATFORM Projects

Water, Land, Fire
River Detectives

Still Waters
Tides & TributesRENUE
Delta
Merton Island Homeland

 


See here for all public projects

  Still WatersTree of Life


Water, Land, Fire
for Museum of the River Thames, 2001

An installation and set of three walks from source to mouth on the unburying of the River Fleet, a major tributary to the Thames.

This was the latest high-profile event in our long-term project to unbury one of London's sewerised tributaries - see Still Waters.

Water, Land, Fire was part of the final exhibition in the series created by the "Museum of", Bargehouse, London SE1.

Collaborators:
Jane Trowell, Tod Hanson, Miche Fabre-Lewin, and Nick Stewart - artists.

Funder:
Museum of



walking in the valley of the Fleet

at the Museum of the River Thames


River Detectives
2nd Residency at St Joseph's School

A one-week residency by a drama worker and visual arts teacher to introduce the next generation of children to the issues and excitement behind the power of their local river Wandle, both in terms of imagination and the water.

The residency combined walks, drama and art techniques, paper-making, and creative writing.

Collaborators:
Becky Large - drama facilitator, Jane Trowell - art teacher, Stuart Bullen - paper-maker, Agnes Aitken (teacher) and Year 3 children.

Funders:
Headley Trust


RENUE
Renewable Energy in the Urban Environment, 1996 -

PLATFORM is a founder Trustee of this pioneering community renewable energy initiative which comprises locally targetted education projects, and practical services, based at the historic Merton Abbey Mills in south-west London.

RENUE was conceived by a group of local organisations in Wandsworth and Merton who came together as a result of the Merton Island and Delta projects detailed below.

RENUE has recently established an alliance with Sustainable Energy Action.



the territory of RENUE


Tides and Tributes

1st Residency at St Joseph's School, 1995

A 10-day residency for four artists-activists (video, music, visual art, creative writing) with pupils from St Joseph's RC Primary School, Wandsworth Town, London - the school to receive water power from the River Wandle (see Delta).

The School was honoured with a UK Eco-Schools Award in 1998.

Collaborators:
Dan Gretton, John Jordan, James Marriott, Jane Trowell, Chrissi Partheni, children from Yrs 3 and 5 and their teachers, Dee Russell

Funders:
Arts Council of England, Civic Trust


Delta
Wandle-powered St Joseph's school, 1993 -

The revival of London's river Wandle delta through the permanent installation of a micro-hydro turbine and a church bell rung by the tides; inaugurated with an outdoor music performance, and sustained through education work with St Joseph's RC Primary School which receives the water power. This project led directly into the formation of RENUE.

According to advisors, ITDG (Intermediate Technology Development Group) this was the first time micro-hydro technology had been used in a rich-world, inner city river context. Exhibitions on Delta and RENUE have toured nationally.

Background
The Wandle delta was thirty-five acres of marshy islands and river channels until the beginning of the last century. Today this land in north Wandsworth, which lies between Point Pleasant and The Causeway, Frogmore and the Thames, is an area of roads, industrial units and derelict works. It was a place where the people of Wandsworth could wash, drink and catch wildfowl and fish. Now the channels around the islands are buried,
the soil contaminated, and the Wandle reduced to two concrete-lined courses, its water polluted and rubbish-strewn.

The delta, where the clear waters of the Wandle met the muddy swirl of the tidal Thames, was sacred land for 2000 years. At this place our Bronze and Iron Age ancestors worshipped the power of the rivers. They showed their devotion by casting bronze objects of immense value into the water : shields, axes, swords, and funerary urns. The sluice gate structure at Bell Lane Creek on The Causeway is the focal point for the DELTA project. From the structure is now hung a bell, which is rung by the passage of the tides - the movement of the North Sea in and out of Wandsworth, four times in every 24 hours.

The Wandle sweeps out from the chalk of the North Downs to the sea at the Thames. The delta is its natural conclusion and was feeding ground and breeding place for innumerable species of fish, insects, birds, invertebrates, molluscs and mammals.
Today the range of inhabitant in the river and on its banks are greatly reduced, but in honour if those that remain here and in memory of those that might return, their names have been carved in stone affixed to the sluice gate structure.

Salmon, Swan, Otter, Heron, Eel.

Before the first world war, Lower Mill on the delta used the power of the Wandle to grind corn.It was one of the five mills of Wandsworth that were driven by the river’s energy for centuries. In 1993, PLATFORM installed a micro-hydro turbine in the sluice gate which formed part of the old Lower Mill system. The Wandle once again turned a machine to generate renewable energy. Unlike coal, gas, oil or uranium, the power of the Wandle will never run out, and harnessing it does not produce gases that destroy the earth’s atmosphere. This is the first use of such a turbine in a modern industrial city, and this experiment has informed the work of the Intermediate Technology Development Group (advisors to the project) around the world.

In 1995, the new buildings of St Joseph’s RC Primary School, off Putney Bridge Road, were completed. With its ecological garden, the school is a model of environmental design and its music room is lit by electricity from the Wandle. In 1995 and again in 2001, PLATFORM undertook two major residencies with children from St Joseph’s School, part of our long-term commitment to the project and the area. In 1998, the school won an national Eco-Schools Award.

At the opening of the bell, carving and turbine, in November 1993, a music event on the banks of the river drew attention to the inspirational and physical power of the Wandle. We asked: could it be that soon Wandsworth would restore the mouth of its river to its former glory by excavating the delta channels and replanting the islands so that the animals that were driven away would return. Such an act would be a wonderful example
of how to treat our rivers, and a bold step in the creation of a sustainable city.

Collaborators:
Stephanie d'Orey - environmental economist, Dan Gretton, John Jordan, James Marriott, Dee Russell - Head Teacher, Jane Trowell, Arthur Williams - Hydro-Active Engineering, Diane Wittner

Funders:
Arts Council of England, Dept. of Environment Urban Programme, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Headley Trust, Local Projects Fund, London Arts, London Borough of Wandsworth


the micro-hydro turbine on the River Wandle


Merton Island
Renewable energy vision, 1993

A public debate and exhibition about the Merton Island area in south-west London, re-imagined through proposed practical measures of energy efficiency and renewable energies.

To catalyse this, PLATFORM, together with engineer Norman Fairey renovated the historic Merton Abbey Wheelhouse millwheel, and since 1993 has provided river Wandle-power for the Wheelhouse exhibition space and associated activities including a potter's wheel, water-charged batteries for a converted milk-float, and a carpenter's lathe. This project is twinned with Delta, and led directly into the formation of RENUE.

Collaborators:
Stephanie d'Orey - environmental economist, Norman Fairey - engineer, Dan Gretton, James Marriott, Diane Wittner

Funders:
Sainsbury's Community Investment Fund.


Homeland
Belonging and the ecological footprint, 1993





A 6-week nomadic public dialogue in a visually transformed pantechnicon, investigating Londoner's emotional connectedness to those lands and peoples who produce what we consume, using the metaphor of the lightbulb.

Homeland began to describe the emotion and numbness behind transnational global trade through exploring participants' feelings through drawing, interviewing and mapping. This project was a pivotal project for the development of the analysis behind 90% CRUDE. Homeland was a London International Festival of Theatre Commission.

Collaborators:
Nicky Childs- ArtsAdmin, Gabor Batoni - Hungarian translator, Roberta Fox - Portuguese translator, Dan Gretton, John Jordan, James Marriott, Gwen Pritchard - Welsh translator, Nick Robins - environmental economist; Production assistants : Debbie Murdoch and Paul Sutcliffe.

Publications:
(forthcoming) 'Slow Activism. Homelands, love and the lightbulb', Wallace Heim in Nature Performed: Environment, Culture and Performance, eds. B Szerszynski, W Heim and C Waterton, Sociological Review/Blackwell, 2003

Funders:
Arts Council of England, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, London Arts, London Borough Grants Committee, Paperback, Rexel


Still Waters
Re-imagining London's rivers, 1992

Four sets of public events and artworks over the month of May 1992 on four of inner London's tributaries to the Thames, aiming at re-imagining London's Thames Valley such that the revival of its rivers becomes inevitable.

Three of the rivers are currently buried: the Fleet, Effra, and Walbrook, and one open but degraded: the Wandle. On completion, Still Waters was exhibited at the London Ecology Centre and St James' Church, Piccadilly. Still Waters won a Time Out Award, 1992

Listening to the Fleet
The Fleet was instrumental in shaping London, yet has declined over the centuries from "river to brook to ditch to drain". 'Listening to the Fleet' challenged the widespread assumption that it is impossible to re-form the city. The events took place along the river between its source on Hampstead Heath and its mouth at Blackfriars. Using interviewing, performance, dowsing, and the inscription of clay tablets formed from London clay and fired in outdoor ovens, the a writer and a teacher worked with passers-by and others to investigate whether there was the desire for the return of the Fleet. This project uncovered a great enthusiasm for the Fleet - people who did not previously know of it were invariably delighted by the knowledge, and nearly all we talked to were provoked and invigorated by the notion of its recovery. The Fleet is the focus of our long-term plan to unbury a river...see Water, Land, Fire.




The Power of the Wandle
This project contrasted the river's active past with its condition today. Although the Wandle played a formative role in the economic and spiritual life of the community for over 9000 years, it has become devalued and disrespected by excessive water extraction for industry, road run-off and its use as a dump. While it has been valiantly fought for by many community interest groups, the Wandle is still threatened by larger forces. An economist and a sculptor focused on the three and a half miles of the valley between Merton and Wandsworth. Public meetings, walks, and a night-time performance involving light animated debate about this river, especially in terms of its motive power - the force of water having been used for centuries to operate the many water mills along it course. This project led on to Delta and Merton Island.




Swimming in the Walbrook
A clinical psychologist and artist presented this river as a metaphor for the city in extremis. Although the Walbrook was central to the inhabitants in former times - Roman Londinium was built around it - today it is confined in a storm drain 30 feet below street level. What has been done to the Walbrook illustrates the dysfunction between the city and the natural world, perhaps specifically The City of the Square Mile and the natural world. As the city's infrastructure has buried the river, so too have people falsely divided human experience, human from human and human from nature. Swimming in the Walbrook consisted of actions, events, rituals and performance that marked the rivers path through London's financial quarter, and suggested another reality to the 'common sense' of current business life. The Walbrook has become a central metaphor in the work Freedom in The City.




Unearthing the Effra
The river Effra - whose name probably derives from the Celtic "yfrid", meaning "torrent", now passes silently beneath the tarmac of South London. Unearthing the Effra consisted of a local campaign to dig up this river, with the Effra Redevelopment Agency's campaign headquarters situated above its banks at Herne Hill. Using advertising and marketing techniques that imitate corporate aesthetics and strategies, an artist and publicist worked with members of the Effra valley 'community' to transform this utopian concept into a possibility. Dreams become real when spoken, and to hear the word Effra on hundreds of people's lips, on radio programmes, to see it on billboards and in newspapers began the journey along the road to the Effra's revival. The Effra project was deliberately constructed to be a highly convincing simulacra of a Docklands 'development agency' aesthetic, and some would say too convincing for its own ethical good, and continues to raise hackles and chuckles when we present it today. In 1998, PLATFORM was surprised when an 'Effra Liberation Front' surfaced, joining in with a Reclaim the Streets street party...

Collaborators:
Peter Butcher - clinical psychologist, Stephanie d'Orey - environmental economist, Dan Gretton, John Jordan, James Marriott, Andrea Phillips - visual arts critic and writer, Nick Stewart -interdisciplinary artist, Jane Trowell, Diane Wittner

Funders:
Arts Council of England, Greater London Arts, London Arts


Tree of Life, City of Life
The Tent Project, 1989

A ten-week tent project in which artists lived, ate and slept in five locations along the southern banks of inner London's Thames.

This 'listening project' aimed at diagnosing the state of the biological metabolism of a section of the city : its peoples, activities, flora and fauna. The results were exhibited in the Royal Festival Hall, London, as part of Common Ground's 'Tree of Life' project.

Collaborators:
Pete Durgerian - video, Teresa Hayter - writer, Herbert Girardet - writer and broadcaster, John Jordan, Rodney Mace - historian, James Marriott, Ana Sarginson

Funders:
Sponsorship in kind and private donations.



at the source of the Effra


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