Inner Eye, Child’s I
a work created by Elinor Stanley in collaboration with pupils from Falconbrook Primary School, commissioned by Tideway, 2017
About the artwork:
Artist Elinor Stanley’s collaboration with twenty-five pupils from Falconbrook Primary School resulted in a fantastical college for the hoarding at the Falconbrook Pumping Station construction site in Wandsworth.
Through a series of workshops in autumn 2017 Elinor took the children on an imaginary journey through the history of the River Thames and all of the interconnected conduits of sewers, plumbing and hidden rivers. Over the course of seven weeks the pupils were introduced to a wide range of drawing and painting techniques alongside research into the history of the River Thames and the River Wandle.
They looked back through history at the different people who lived alongside the river and the trades that connected London to the rest of the world. Exploring mysteries of the deep and imagined possible futures they wove themselves and their families into a rich river narrative.
Inner Eye, Child’s I presents the students’ imaginative view of the world. Romans, monsters, engineers, and mermaids cavort through the subterranean sewage systems and waterways to create a modern take on the Mappa Mundi – a medieval European map of the world. Up close, it reveals the details of many strange meetings and discoveries between characters.
Formed in two parts, the first part of the artwork depicts the mouth of the River Wandle where it meets the Thames, while the second part focuses on where the River Thames runs through Wandsworth. The history and industry of the River Wandle is an important element of the artwork. After an observational drawing walk from the School to where the Thames meets the Wandle, the pupils mapped the lay of the land. Roman and Viking invasions, shields and pots that have been found along Wandsworth’s foreshore and were all inspiration for the pupils. The Wandle, heavily worked since Roman times, was lined with textile mills in the 17th and 18th centuries, and used to flow pink and blue from all the dyes used by the tanneries. The artwork also features self-portraits of all children attending the school in autumn 2017.
The artist has said: "Working with the children and teachers of Falconbrook School was brilliant. The children had so much energy and enthusiasm and together we learned about the vast and varied history of the river, the people who have lived along it and the travel and trade it has enabled from all over the world. The richness and variation of the children's responses was wonderful to work with"
Members of the public said:
"Interesting. Eye-catching. Historical. It makes me stop and reflect."
"I like the fact that it is the kids’ own interpretation. I found interesting to see the different boats and others elements that represent the different times. I like the collectiveness of the artwork, the gathering of thoughts of how children see London."
"It’s unique. Haven’t seen anything like it. It flows. It is big and imaginative. I can spot mermaid! I guess it is also about pollution. All these pipes are full of something sinister. I like the boats."
"I really like that it “writes up the area”. I think adding a local reference, from the perspective of the locals, was a really clever idea. And it reminds people how close we are to the Thames."