Thamesmead & Venice

Giudecca EggMk1in Progress © Margherita Gramegna2019
Emerging Egg of plastic refuse during testing on Giudecca Sunday April 14th 2019 Photo © Margherita Gramegna

I’m pleased to have been in Venice for over a week now, preparing for my exhibition Natura Prima? with the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa at their Palazzetto Tito exhibition Space from May 11th – July 26th 2019. It launches the next phase in the life of the Eggman and the Exbury Egg.

Together with previous work, this exhibition will reference an initial response to the locality of Thamesmead, and present the ‘Giudecca Egg’ and associated works currently being made with the support of the people of Giudecca here in Venice.

I am happy to be working with these two seemingly different waterside communities on low lying salt marshes. In Venice, I have been spending time with people from Giudecca, one of the few remaining authentic Venetian communities who have felt the impact of tourism on their traditional way of life. In Thamesmead, south east London, I have just begun to research how I might  work with different communities to explore the area’s unique natural and architectural landscape, currently undergoing mass-redevelopment.

This era of rising sea levels caused by climate change coloured my initial thinking. Both Thamesmead and Venice share alertness to flooding. If Thamesmead has gained the name of the town on stilts, Venice has long held the record since its founding in the 5th Century AD. In unique ways both have pitted human invention and ingenuity against incursion by the sea to sustain the presence of people – amongst the older stones of Venice and the current redevelopment by Peabody of the brutalist concrete of 1960s Thamesmead.

On arriving in Venice I was forcibly struck by the huge amount of visible plastic refuse in the lagoon and the huge efforts of the Municipale to collect fresh domestic waste.

Around 90% of the waste in the Venetian lagoon is comprised of single use plastic bottles and the same is true of the canals and waterways of Thamesmead. So it seems pertinent to consider how this shared human blight, might be examined creatively in both places.

The Exbury Egg itself proved too difficult to get to Venice, but from the early Summer (date tbc) she will be located on Thamesmead’s Southmere Lake for 12 months, just outside Bow Arts’ newly refurbished Lakeside Centre, to accompany my Thamesmead residency.

In Venice I am  collaborating with artist Margherita Gramegna, originally from the Veneto, and in Thamesmead I will look forward to working with selected artists living and working in east London.

MargheritaGramegnaGiudecca©turner2019
Margherita Gramegna with local residents Chiara and Michele, preparing to collect plastic from the lagoon with Stephen Turner. Photo ©JT2019

 

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