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 to 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.
Extract from Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide
The River spills its secrets…
At low tide on Thursday 21 September, 6,000 copies of a limited-edition artwork by internationally renowned artist Tania Kovats will be given away at locations by the River Thames. Produced in newspaper format, Dirty Water, London’s Low Tide is a collection of drawings, images, musings and writings edited by old River Thames herself and offered to those traversing the river on the morning of the Autumn Equinox.
Dirty Water marks the culmination of a year of Kovats’ research into the Thames, investigating and gathering stories, maps and images, including drawings by Canaletto and Turner, as well as by engineers, scientists and illustrators from the London Illustrated News. Narrated by the River, conceived by Kovats as an ageing woman speaking from a paradox of memory and forgetfulness, joy, sadness, anxiety and hope, as she recalls her highs and lows over the last five hundred years and looks forward to the future. Her writing frames the river as a topography, a habitat, as the city’s guts and its flush, a workplace, an engineered and contained natural force, and as a means of keeping London free from economic or health difficulties, allowing freedom of movement and trade.
Dirty Water will be handed out in 18 riverside locations for one hour at the Autumn Equinox, and will also be available from Somerset House, the Cutty Sark and City Hall. The singular act of free distribution pinpoints a moment in the river’s history as it joins with the continuous flow of information and cultural exchange that courses through the city.