Centrefold: A river runs through it

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Multi-media artist Henry Bond spent several months with the Thames river police - and captured just one or two frames for his video project 'Deep, dark water'. But these snatched images are integral to a single story: a fast and furious, 25 minute-long documentary which attempts to take in the whole of London life based around the river Thames.

Bond is the first of six artists to be commisioned by the Public Art Development Trust to produce a body of work challenging our view of the Thames, in preparation for the 1996 opening of 'The Thames Path' - a 180-mile footpath from the Cotswolds to the Thames barrier.

Bond gave himself a tough brief: to get as much information as possible and present it all as a kaleidoscope of stereotypes and visual associations: 'This is a dramatisation of what it means to live in London in the 1990s,' he says. And he has covered a lot of ground: from the industrial Isle of Dogs to Chelsea's glamorous shores, taking in boat trips, night-shift workers, business men and early morning joggers, he stimulates our curiosity, showing only a few seconds of action then moving tantalisingly on. Bond targets some of the actual experience of walking the streets, with all the drama of changing moods and themes: we see a smartly-dressed businesswoman at the edge of the street, looking preoccupied and stressed. Then, in stark contrast, two sunny schoolgirls trip past (right) - a moment of rare innocence. A few frames later, a rather sinister motorcade passes by.

Bond is fascinated with traditional media representations: he picks out Tower Bridge, for instance, a classic outline that has graced a multitude of films and television series. And the vogue for river-view back-drops on day-time television programmes (Carlton Television's London Tonight uses a third-floor window) has not escaped his notice. Nor, unsurprisingly, have Japanese tourists: without whom no central London scene would be complete.

'Deep Dark Water' is showing, on Fridays only, 2-6pm, Public Art Development Trust, 3rd Floor, Kirkman House, 12-14 Whitfield Street, W1 (071-580 9977) A book is also available, pounds 9.99

(Photograph omitted)

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