Museum of Docklands

Museum of Docklands

The advertisement for the Estuary Exhibition at Museum of Docklands caught my eye in the underground. The exhibition brings together the work of 12 artists to explore as curator Francis Marshall states “this largely overlooked landscape” and spans 28 years from 1985-2013. We are also reminded that this area has been the inspiration for artists and writers such as Turner, Constable, Charles Dickens, Joseph Conrad and TS Eliot.

The featured works include paintings, photography and film. Traditional paintings are provided by Michael Andrews and Jock Mc Faddon. The two paintings by Michael Andrews: The Estuary and Study for the Estuary were inspired by trips to Canvey Island and 19th Century photographs of the river. They capture the spirit of the river well.

There is work by four photographers, Peter Marshall, Gayle Chong Kwan, Christiane Baumgartner and Simon Roberts. Nearly half of the exhibition is given over to film or digital film. There are films of the The Bow Gamelan Ensemble and other works by Andrew Kotting, William Raban, Stephen Turner, John Smith and Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen. Portrait of a River by Larsen is just under an hour long. Some stamina is required to watch this in gallery conditions. The preponderance of this media means that the exhibition is in a dark enclosed room. Whilst this adds to the themes of decay and desolation I don’t think it presents a balanced representation of the estuary today. Much of the area around the river has reverted to marshland and has seen a return of wildlife, there are few, if any, images of this.

Advertisements