Dear Reader, I am an old river. I want to tell you some things while I can. There is a current running through this city that has to speak… I am going share things that are difficult for me to tell, things that trouble me from my lowest tides, and some of the things I think about to lift my spirits. You decide if you can trust me.
- extract from Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide
At low tide on Thursday 21 September, a limited edition newspaper edited by the River Thames herself will be given away at over twenty riverside locations. The newspaper, Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide is a work by Art on the Tideway's artist-in-residence Tania Kovats. It features drawings, images, secret musings and writings edited by old River Thames herself, and will be offered to those travelling by the river on the morning of Autumn Equinox.
We caught up with Tania to find out more about her inspirations, processes and experiences of being artist in residence with Tideway.
How did Dirty Water come about?
For the last year I have been artist in residence on the River Thames, for Tideway who are building the new super sewer to help tackle sewage overflows in London. I have spent a year thinking about the Thames and what an important role the river has in the story of London. I wanted to make a response to the river in a way that could become part of city life. I decided this would work best as a free newspaper that was given out to people crossing the river on a particular day at low tide. Dirty Water is a collection of writings and drawings for London’s low tide.
What will be in Dirty Water?
I appointed the river itself to be the editor of the newspaper so it's been challenging to write copy in the imagined voice of the river. The newspaper is full of what the river remembers on that day – and she is an old lady that is slightly loosing her memory so she remembers things in fragments and has lots of secrets and dark stories to tell, memories that have settled in the mud.
The newspaper also has drawings in it, some are mine, some are drawings by engineers or artists or scientists that have for whatever reason looked at the river. That’s how come the river knows about their drawings – I decided that if anyone has given the river their attention then the river has noticed and remembers.
How does this fit in with your other work?
Much of my work as an artist has been about water and how we connect to this element. I think that all waters are connected and in some way water has a memory - so the Thames has a very long and full memory. I hope that Dirty Water is a chance for the river to share some of her stories with you.
Dirty Water is commissioned as part of Tideway’s Public Art Programme.