Walbrook - London is a river city

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I took part in Amy Sharrocks' artwork Walbrook on Friday, a walk which recreated the course of London's underground and lost Walbrook river. About 30 people, all wearing blue, were tied together and walked the course of the river from Islington to Cannon Street Bridge.

Amy spoke before the walk about us being water: we were tied in formation resembling the molecular structure of water, and we, as humans, are 90% water. In this walk, we were water in the form of a river. Her artworks deal with how Londoners interact with water.

As we set off, I found that, rather than learning a lot about where we went through, the geography of the city was slipping past. I was talking and learning about other people in 'the river' - almost oblivious to what was going on around us.

Maybe all rivers do that. They flow silently, unseeingly through landscapes, especially cities. People are busy building over and around them, on their banks, but the rivers unknowingly continue flowing, doing what they do.

I noticed placenames with watery connotations, but they slid past. I was able to photograph some, some I missed.

The experience really resembled being a river - our sense of onward momentum was very strong, the movement like a river current.

The blue elastic ribbons holding us together were sinuous - at one point I was wrapped and surrounded, later I only had two ribbons tied behind me. It moved around silently, unbeknownst to me, like water when you swim.

We set off with a great pace, slowed at some points and sped up again. Having sluiced slowly through the city, we reached the Thames in silence.

Walbrook: walkers

Walbrook: water along the way

Walbrook: where Walbrook & Thames meet