Soundings from the Estuary
18th January - 4th March 2014
Based on the book published in September 2014 Frank Watson will be showing a series of his beautiful photographs taken along the Thames Estuary. These large sized prints will rotate every week in the m2 gallery, while a selection will be on display at the opening.
The photographs reflect a series of walks taken along the Thames Estuary, occurring in all seasons and at sporadic times over a seven-year period. Much of the Estuary is perceived as a brown field site lacking the traditional attributes of the picturesque. Prominent features include landfill sites, prisons, oil refineries and industrial debris left scattered along the river’s foreshore, amongst which also lie industrial and military ruins. Yet despite its blighted public image, the Thames estuary does have a sense of place, albeit one that is dependent on the importance of the river itself and its relation to the history of the growth of London as a global city. However, this scenario conflicts with predictions of rising sea levels from global warming that would subject much of the low lying marshland of the area to flooding. The Thames Estuary is a contested landscape, with both naturalists and environmentalists seeking to preserve the existing terrain from the threats posed to its future.
The effects of global warming will begin to shape the estuary’s topography, and one of the ambitions of this project has been to anticipate this landscape’s future. Evoking the future through a photograph invites the viewer to speculate upon the image as though it was a film still, spooling it back into motion, or even fast forwarding it and envisaging time unforeseen. The images ask the viewer to imagine the estuary as a site that has been subjected to the effects of environmental warming whilst at the same time acknowledging that what has been hinted at has yet to occur.