Art and Science are in genuine partnership along the tidal Thames foreshore: photography and microscopy tell the story of an overlooked and colourful ecosystem in central London. Down in the sediments at the bottom of a sheltered inlet, trillions of tiny organisms hide from predators while the tide is high. As it ebbs, exposing the foreshore to daylight, they migrate to the surface and get to work. Hours later, and just before the tide returns, they commute back home into the mud.
The Thames in central London is turbid; life for plankton in the water column is tough, as they’re constantly churned around away from the surface and the solar energy they need. In fact, much of the ‘carbon fixing’ done by the river’s ecosystems is down to these muddy patches.
When the tide falls and daylight reaches the foreshore, ‘commuter diatoms’ and other micro-algae migrate vertically up through the grey mud. As individuals, they are invisibly small. As communities, they bloom into visible patches of reds, browns and greens – coloured by chlorophyll, accessorised with other pigments, and changing with the seasons.
High-resolution time-lapse videos at different scales – from the whole creekside to the small quadrats used for scientific sampling – show how these colour mixes change over a tidal cycle. Single frames from electron- and light-microscopes show two main species linked to different colour-ways. ‘Slimewatch’ uses photographs as data-sets, to make beautiful frames and sequences, and to analyse species composition.
Visitors will be guided to observe samples of different species using a light microscope. With a digital microscope, they can link in their own smartphone or tablet to record photos & video. Using plasticine + a large Perspex cube, they visualise the planktonic population of a single drop of water.
Static exhibition, inc.film loops (5-10 mins.) Activities 15-30 mins.
Please note activities are only occurring during certain times, see below, and take place in the foyer directly next to the cafe.
Schedule of exhibition and activities:
Sept.12th. Opening event; exhibition + activities, 18:00 – 20:00
Sept. 13-14th. Exhibition 08:00-20:00, activities 10:00-16:00 September 16-21st. Exhibition only: 08:00-20:00