Tideway launches Art on the Tideway with Dirty Water

Fereday Pollard Director, Clare Donnelly who is Lead Architect and Legacy Design Advisor for London's Tideway project has developed and managed Tideway’s Public Art Strategy, Turning to face the river.

Tideway launches Art on the Tideway with Dirty Water, a free limited edition artwork by artist Tania Kovats, distributed at low tide at 20 locations on the River Thames on Thursday 21 September.

Dear Reader, I am an old river. I want to tell you some things while I can. There is a current running through this city that has to speak… I am going to share things that are difficult for me to tell, things that trouble me from my lowest tides, and some of the things I think about to lift my spirits. You decide if you can trust me.

Extract from Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide

At low tide on Thursday 21 September 6,000 copies of a limited edition artwork by internationally renowned artist Tania Kovats will be given away at twenty locations from east to west along the River Thames. Produced in newspaper format, Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide is a collection of drawings, images, secret musings and writings edited by old River Thames herself, offered to those traversing the river at low tide on the morning of the Autumn Equinox. Dirty Water is part of Totally Thames, the annual 30-day season of events celebrating the River Thames.

Dirty Water is the inaugural annual artist-in-residence commission for Art on the Tideway, one of the UK’s most ambitious new public art programmes which launches fifty artworks by leading and emerging contemporary artists over the next five years. On completion the artworks will trace the 25km route of the new Thames Tideway Tunnel, a new ‘super sewer’ that will help tackle sewage overflows into the River Thames.

As the first artist-in-residence for Art on the Tideway, Kovats has spent a year researching the Thames, investigating and gathering stories, images, maps and drawings made by her and others including Canaletto and Turner, and engineers, scientists and illustrators from the London Illustrated News. Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide is a journal narrated by the River Thames conceived by Kovats as an ageing woman within a paradox of memory and forgetfulness, joy, sadness, anxiety and hope as she recalls the highs and lows of the River over the last five hundred years and looks forward to the future. Overlaying the written texts and images are Kovats’ drawings, mapping the artist’s deep engagement with the River over the past twelve months. They frame the river as a topography, a habitat, as the city’s guts and its flush, a workplace, an engineered and contained natural force, and as a means of keeping London free from economic or health difficulties allowing freedom of movement and trade.

Roger Bailey, Tideway’s Asset Management Director said, “We are delighted to be launching Art on the Tideway, which repositions the River Thames as a new venue for contemporary art. A bold, world-class programme of site specific artworks will be created by a group of visionary international and national artists, local communities and cultural partners making this one of the most ambitious public art programmes in recent years which we hope Londoners and visitors to the capital will enjoy.”

During 2017 and early 2018 artists Joy Gerrard, Matheson Marcault, Edwin Mingard, Amy Pennington, Simon Roberts, Emma Smith, Madeleine Waller and John Walter will present large-scale temporary commissions on hoardings at Thames Tideway Tunnel construction sites in east, west and central London followed by the announcement of further temporary commissions from 2018 to 2020.

From 2020 to 2022 artists Yemi Awosile, Claire Barclay, Jo Chapman, Lubna Chowdhary, Adam Chodzko, Nathan Coley, Ruth Ewan, Leo Fitzmaurice, Knut Henrik Henriksen, Hew Locke, Studio Weave, Florian Roithmayr, Lucy Skaer and Sarah Staton will create permanent works for Art on the Tideway with locations to be announced.


Image: Tania Kovats with Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide. Credit: Thierry Bal, 2017.

Image: Tania Kovats with Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide. Credit: Thierry Bal, 2017.