A Patina of Antique Filth
with Elinor Brass, October 2009
A place-specific installation with a soundscape created in collaboration with Tim Dutton, as part of the Shunt Lounge, London Bridge. The work was inspired by the colourful history of the London Bridge area and Orwell's 1933 book Down and Out in Paris and London. Orwell stayed in a doss-house on Tooley Street in the early 1930s when he spent time living as a tramp in London. Down and Out provides an evocative record of his experiences. Tooley Street, which runs alongside the Lounge, was also where 68 people died in an air raid in 1941. Popular legend dictates that there was so much rubble that bodies were simple left behind, and re-buried in the masonry under London Bridge Station. While the installation will pay tribute to their ghosts, it will also reference the hive of industry that existed in the area in the 18th Century, which grew up around the busy wharves: the ship-wrights, the tanners, wool-staplers, parchment and rope makers, anchor-smiths, calico dyers, and pin and needle manufacturers.
"I had worn bad enough things before, but nothings at all like these; they were not merely dirty and shapeless, they had ? how is one to express it? ? a gracelessness, a patina of antique filth, quite different from mere shabbiness?"
George Orwell, Down and Out in Paris and London