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An ‘in-conversation’ with photographer Simon Roberts, using his large-scale artwork for the Victoria Embankment, as a starting point. The discussion will cover his photography and his approach to the creation of the artwork, which references the rich and varied history of that section of the Victoria Embankment and the River Thames. Roberts took photographs at the site but also researched objects and images from a wide variety of archives and collections in London to create the work. Simon will discuss this with an invited heritage expert (to be announced) and curator Rachel Fleming-Mulford.

“The design is created to reflect the literal and metaphorical layering of the landscape, in which objects from the past and present are juxtaposed to evoke new meanings. The hoarding represents an aesthetic excavation of the area, so that diverse elements, both manmade and natural, can co-exist in new ways.

All the objects are presented as a metaphoric Victorian ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’. Modern terminology would categorise the objects included as belonging to natural history, geology, ethnography, archaeology, religious or historical relics, works of art, and antiquities.”

The artwork has been commissioned by Tideway, the company building London's new super sewer, for their site hoardings at Victoria Embankment. Tideway’s work will restore the health of the River.

Simon Roberts (b.1974) is a British photographer based in Brighton, UK. He originally studied a BA Hons Degree in Human Geography at the University of Sheffield, which has informed much of his subsequent photographic practice. Often employing expansive landscape photographs, his approach is one of creating wide-ranging surveys of our time, which communicate on important social, economic and political issues. Roberts has published three critically acclaimed monographs, Motherland (Chris Boot, 2007), We English (Chris Boot, 2009) and Pierdom (Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2013) and has exhibited extensively internationally. His photographs reside in major public and private collections, including the Deutsche B̦orse Art Collection and Wilson Centre for Photography.

Image credit: Detail from The Thames Wunderkammer: Tales from Victoria Embankment in Two Parts, 2017, Simon Roberts, commissioned by Tideway. © Simon Roberts, 2018. Includes images from the following museum collections: Museum of London and Wellcome Library.