a site-specific work created by Edwin Mingard, commissioned by Tideway, 2017
About the artwork:
Through a range of events, and in collaboration with local residents, organisations, artists and historians, Edwin Mingard has developed Reflection; an 80-metre graphic artwork which explores and celebrates past and future relationships to the River Thames and Deptford Creek. Combining text and digital contour drawings, the artwork catalogues what is unique to Deptford, and important to London as a whole. It is displayed along the hoarding around Tideway’s construction site at Greenwich Pumping Station.
The artist has said: "For me, the best part of making the work was the research process, which was as enjoyable as it was informative. I travelled up the Thames by boat, talking to older residents about their memories of the past and hopes for the future; I waded up the creek with residents, collecting samples and drawing pictures; we watched films together, and people submitted valuable local knowledge for inclusion. Conversations were intimate, insightful and personally rewarding."
Drawing inspiration from these encounters, Reflection is a quasi-encyclopaedic ‘dictionary’ featuring significant local heroes such as the campaigner for health and education reform, Margaret McMillan (1860-1931) and the radical anti-racist activist Chris Braithwaite (1885-1944) as well as important historical moments and pivotal activities of the area. The work also features an excerpt from The River's Tale, a poem by Rudyard Kipling about the British Empire. ‘…For they were young, and the Thames was old, And this is the tale that River told:’ Wishing to critique the sentiment of the poem, Mingard aimed to create a narrative more in tune with the area now – if the river really did tell a tale, of our past, present and future, what would it look like?
Feedback from passers-by:
“It looks good and has a good spread of info on it. I hope it will make people more engaged in what is going on in their area. It educates but hopefully will also make people think and be more active.”
“It makes you appreciate the surroundings more. We tend to take things for granted and so we are not paying attention and valuing what we have got. This artwork makes you stop and read, and at the same time you are learning new things about the area.”
“I really like it; especially that it includes local information. It is a dodgy alleyway and this work makes it brighter and safer.”