Other PLATFORM Projects
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.
Land, Fire was part of the final exhibition in the
series created by the "Museum of",
Bargehouse, London SE1.
Jane Trowell, Tod Hanson, Miche Fabre-Lewin,
and Nick Stewart - artists.
walking in the valley of the
the Museum of the River Thames
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.
Becky Large - drama facilitator, Jane Trowell - art teacher, Stuart
Bullen - paper-maker, Agnes Aitken (teacher) and Year 3 children.
Renewable Energy in the Urban Environment,
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.
recently established an alliance with Sustainable
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.
Dan Gretton, John Jordan, James Marriott, Jane Trowell, Chrissi
Partheni, children from Yrs 3 and 5 and their teachers, Dee Russell
Arts Council of England, Civic Trust
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Stephanie d'Orey - environmental economist, Dan Gretton, John Jordan,
James Marriott, Dee Russell - Head Teacher, Jane Trowell, Arthur
Williams - Hydro-Active Engineering, Diane Wittner
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
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
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.
Stephanie d'Orey - environmental economist, Norman Fairey - engineer,
Dan Gretton, James Marriott, Diane Wittner
Sainsbury's Community Investment Fund.
Belonging and the ecological footprint,
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.
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.
(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
Arts Council of England, Calouste
Gulbenkian Foundation, London Arts, London Borough Grants
Committee, Paperback, Rexel
Re-imagining London's rivers,
|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
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
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...
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
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.
Pete Durgerian - video, Teresa Hayter - writer, Herbert Girardet
- writer and broadcaster, John Jordan, Rodney Mace - historian,
James Marriott, Ana Sarginson
Sponsorship in kind and private
at the source of the Effra