The River Thames, as the beating heart of London, has historically provided inspiration for artists. During the 19th century, the Thames was famously painted by the likes of Turner, Monet and Whistler, who captured both its picturesque potential and its bustling working world.

More recently, artists have been inspired to focus on the treasures found within the river. These objects are as evocative in their own right as the watery bed from which they’ve been rescued. Their riverine journey and lost stories have endless iterations, interpretations and significance. Here we see the mudlark as artist, and the artist as mudlark: from photographic and watercolour still-lifes, to immersive films, porcelain vessels and re-workings of yesteryear’s broken pottery.

All the works featured here were part of our 2019 exhibition Foragers of the Foreshore at the Barghouse Gallery, Oxo Tower wharf. As well as reflecting the lost and forgotten objects of yesteryear, many of these works also provoke important discussion about what today’s trash means for tomorrow’s archaeological record.

Meet the Artists