Artists unite to cast their light in Docklands

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Indy Lifestyle Online
London's only lighthouse in a forgotten Docklands backwater is one of several redundant buildings to have provided a setting for new works of art.

Ten artists have encamped at the disused buildings at Trinity Buoy Wharf to unveil a series of installations. All of them eschew the genre of gallery art, preferring instead to work on transitory, site-specific art forms.

The exhibition, 'Pitch: Trinity Buoy Wharf', which runs until 23 September, reflects a multi-disciplinary use of material, including video, object/image, sound, film and performance. It is sponsored by Kingston University and the London Docklands Development Corporation.

As well as in the lighthouse, artists such as Mary Lemley, Edge and Brian Catlin have installed their work in a stable block, two vast warehouses, on the quayside and the river bank. Positioned in a great curve of the tidal Thames, the site is seen as having a special atmosphere.

Gill Addison, one of the artists, said: 'The need to fuse concept and space is inherent in our work at Trinity Buoy Wharf. The site invites the artist to consider a number of elements: its atmosphere and dimensions, its historical and political life, its past and present function. It is the site that curates.'

The lighthouse, housing an installation by artist Gilly Booth, is located in Blackwall to the west of the confluence of the Thames and the river Lea. The octagonal building provides a link between the ancient Corporation of Trinity House, responsible for maintaining all the lighthouses in the Britain, and Michael Faraday, the founding father of electricity, who used the site for some of his experiments.

Built about 1860, the lighthouse and adjacent warehouse are the largest surviving Victorian buildings on the site. It had no navigational function but was used to train lighthouse keepers in the art of maintaining lanterns and the science of meteorology.

Booth's installation consists of a 16mm loop film which is projected on to a 10ft by 15ft screen. It depicts an ice sculpture of a peeled orange which is being melted by fire from underneath. The image is meant to be viewed by visitors as they climb the stairs of the lighthouse.

The 33-year-old artist, who teaches at Kingston University, said she would also be blacking out the top of the lighthouse, making peepholes through to the outside world, so that visitors could look through.

'When the orange is melted by the fire, water drips down and, in turn, extinguishes the flames. It takes around three-and-a-half minutes to put the fire out and there is a lot of flickering as this happens,' she said.

'When I was doing my research on this place, I read of the thoughts of a former lighthouse keeper who trained here. He was very romantic and expressive and spoke of the flickering light of the building and compared it to his own internal light, or soul.'

(Photograph omitted)

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