an artwork created by artist Renata Fernandez and students from Sulivan Primary School, commissioned by Tideway, 2017
Based on a timeline spanning the Victorian era through to the modern day, this vibrant artwork shows the changes to local wildlife and ecology over the last 200 years. To create this rich collage of block-printed images, Renata worked with eight students from Sulivan Primary School in Fulham.
Students looked at how wildlife in the area has changed, drawing on elements of the rich history of the river and locale. This included the Great Stink and Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s Victorian sewage system as well as some poignant wildlife indicators, such as seals, European eels, shore crabs, local fish, birds and plants. They visited The Hurlingham Club; an exclusive sports and social club set in 42 acres of grounds to sketch local wildlife then turned their sketches into block prints, using bold colours to create designs for the artwork.
The block printing process was inspired by the methods used by the famous artist, writer and socialist, William Morris who lived locally for a time and who is featured in the artwork along with other local dignitaries. Students also studied other local characters such naturalist and benefactress Charlotte Sulivan; T.J. Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker, whose Doves typeface was recently recovered from the river at Hammersmith, and the modernist artist John Piper, whose designs are visible across the road from this site on the Piper Building.
Pupils made a small book for Renata, including a page from each student with drawings and comments: "This was the best time of my life because I love art and it’s my favourite subject." … "I really enjoyed going to the Hurlingham Club and learning about the history." … "Thank you for being such an inspiring art teacher. You taught me many new things, I wish I could do the art project again."
Renata Fernandez said: "The participating children from Year 6 were fearless and so eager to try new things, learn and be very inspired, and be inspiring. Not once did I hear “I can’t”…they absolutely tried their hardest and had a go. This risk taking is becoming so rare that I felt struck gold with these children."