Artists eye river bank

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Permanent art installations are to line the Thames to mark the creation of an 180-mile footpath along its length, writes Helen Nowicka.

The Thames Path is due to open in 1996 and will run from the river's source near Kemble, Gloucestershire, to the flood barrier at Woolwich, with new rights of way and bridges supplementing existing towpaths.

The Countryside Commission intends to place commissioned artworks at selected sites. Already sponsorship of pounds 60,000 has come from Allied-Lyons to fund preliminary projects by six artists over three years.

The results of the first year's work - by two artists - go on show from tomorrow.

Deep Dark Water by Henry Bond is a video exploring popular perceptions of the river. In a parody of a Rough Guide-style travelog, Bond interviewed river users from fishermen to ramblers about what the waterway means to them.

The second exhibit, Standing Wave by Simon Read, combines photography with technical drawings. A number of the most striking photographs were taken from inside Second World War pillboxes in Berkshire and Oxfordshire.

Read was particularly interested in capturing the movement of water from weirs as it enters the stiller part of the river. One of those formations, the standing wave, gave his work its name.

Discussions are under way to select the next two recipients of the sponsorship.

Frances Everist, marketing adviser for the Thames Path, said: 'We want to see works along the river path so it enhances people's experience of the walk.

'The hope is to have fixed pieces in place by 1996.

To date, about 90 per cent of the Thames Path is accessible to pedestrians.

Standing Wave runs from tomorrow to Sunday at Gallery 31, Shad Thames SE1, 12-6pm.

Deep Dark Water can be seen on Fridays between 12 August and 2 September,

2-5pm, at the Public Art Development Trust, Kirkman House, Whitfield Street W1.

(Photograph omitted)

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