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Excavated Tideway clay used to make art

artwork by alison cooke

A London artist is using clay being dug up on the Thames Tideway Tunnel to create ceramic artwork.

“Pipeline” is a site-responsive art project that pays tribute to the work of pioneering engineer, Sir Joseph Bazalgette, who designed London’s Victorian sewerage system, and ceramicist and founder of Royal Doulton, Henry Doulton, who manufactured the pipes that joined the sewer to its buildings.

The artist behind it, Alison Cooke, is using clay excavated from the tunnel being dug beneath the original sewer system to make a series of ceramic pieces that reference the manufacture and construction processes originally used by Bazalgette and Doulton.

Tideway delivery manager Chris Darton said: “Being environmentally friendly is a key part of the Tideway project so it is great that we are able to donate clay that we’re excavating for Alison to re-work into art.”

Cooke approached Tideway’s Kirtling Street site to request clay and in turn was given 5t of clay spoil excavated from 25m below the Thames foreshore.

clay being dug up by tideway

clay being dug up by tideway

Over the course of this year there will be workshops, talks and creation of further pieces which will culminate in an exhibition of ceramics in Bazalgette’s old office in Soho square, supported of Arts Council England.

Cooke said: “The project aims to highlight London’s sanitation history and its future, and to draw attention to the deep clay bed beneath our feet.”

In June, Cooke will be hosting a free drop-in workshop at her studio where the public are invited to see work in progress, access information on the history and future of London’s sewer network and participate in an informal workshop using the Tideway clay.

Workshops will be held on 22 to 24 June as part of the Kingsgate Open Studios.



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