Art that goes with the flow

Art that goes with the flow

Ich don’t think zo =) Nice try.

Dozens of people dressed in blue are being tied together with blue ribbon outside a north London Tube station. It doesn’t take long for passers-by to start staring.

As the gathering of mostly strangers grows, one onlooker realises she, too, is wearing blue, and almost runs away lest she become entangled in the strange human web. The look on her face – something between bemusement and mild antipathy – is one that will become familiar over the next three hours. What on earth, she must be thinking, are we doing?

It’s a question I’m asking myself and I know the answer. We have come to “be” art or, more specifically, a river. Most Londoners could name only the river, but dozens of waterways used to feed the Thames. Centuries of building and paving has consigned many, including the Fleet, the Effra, and the Tyburn, to the city’s bowels. Others, including the Walbrook, which once bubbled and flowed through the oldest part of the capital, are no more than dry voids.

Amy Sharrocks, an artist fascinated by London’s relationship with water, wants the forgotten Walbrook to run again – for an afternoon at least. She has charted the river’s course from its source near Highbury and Islington Tube station, due south via the City to its mouth at the Thames near Cannon Street. Linked by ribbon bonds, like molecules of hydrogen and oxygen, a group of 50 participants will surge and meander along some of the capital’s busiest pavements.

“We are tracing a memory of water, laying new stories over old histories, drafting and redrafting our footsteps across the city,” Sharrocks says in a speech as the last volunteers are tied on. “Today there is no Walbrook. Until we get to the Thames, we are the water.”



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