Heron Flying Upstream
by Sarah Staton, commissioned by Tideway
Artist Sarah Staton has been commissioned by Tideway to create two cast bronze sculptures at Carnwath Road Riverside. The artist has conceived the commission as a celebratory occasion for capturing the beautiful herons that can be seen flying upstream, or wandering here on the foreshore. The artist was delighted to discover that the heron is also to be found as motif on 19th Century de Morgan ceramics created at nearby Sands End.
The artist researched the history of the site, exploring the Tideway narrative of Leisure to Industry in the area around Carnwath Road, identifying a trajectory from the low lying riverside common land becoming private land giving on to industry and now returning again to new public space.
In 1824, twenty acres at Sands End, a little to the east of Carnwath Road, were bought by the Imperial Gas Light and Coke Company, the first public utility enterprise in the world. So began almost two centuries of industrialisation and manufacturing. Craftsmen and artists were attracted to its fringes, most notably, William De Morgan, a friend of William Morris and a member of the Arts and Crafts movement. The De Morgan Pottery at Sands End, Fulham operated between 1888 and 1897, and motifs like the heron from the locale were worked artfully into his Persian inspired designs.
Sarah’s practice as a sculptor with an interest in texture and tactile material has resulted in this paired bronze artwork with a distinctive luscious material surface that will contrast effectively with the hard concrete of the kiosk, providing visual and tactile interest both close up and at from a distance.
Sarah’s decision to memorialise the herons, and increase their visibility through an enlarged scale and a rich material palette is a bold response to the site. These sculptures will enhance the new public realm providing a unique response for a utilitarian building. One bird will be placed at the river end of the site, and the other, signposts the public realm by being directly visible from the Carnwath Road approach.