[©Suki Chan/ Museum of London]
With an abundance of out-there, wacky exhibitions on show in London this summer, the Museum of London Docklands’ ‘Bridge’ may not have been an obvious must-see, but after a wander around the show, we can safely say that it’s well worth journeying to West India Quay to check out.
Curator Francis Marshall’s wonderfully arranged exhibition explores how bridges have always, and continue to, shape our view of London. These powerful structures are integral to our daily commutes, allow us to view our city at a distance and have become popular icons in their own right. (So much so that American Robert P McCulloch bought one and shipped it back home. True story!)
Upon entering the exhibition, visitors are greeted with Suki Chan’s bright, modern panoramic view created using a light box. Juxtaposing this is Robert Barker, Henry Aston Barker and Frederick Birnie’s 1792 hand-coloured etching and aquatint which, despite being crafted a good few lifetimes earlier, similarly uses bridges as a focal point.
[©Henry Turner- A windy evening on London Bridge]
[©Henry Turner/ Museum of London]
The exhibition takes visitors on a journey through time, exemplifying the ways our city has changed whilst zooming in on the ebb and flow of crowds crossing the Thames. Through a variety of etchings, linocuts, photographs and slide projections ‘Bridge’ highlights the physical impact these mighty structures have on our city.
As you wander through the show, you may notice the crashing of drums in the background. This isn’t a local band having a jam next door, it’s William Raban’s short film showing an alternative, unconventional view of London’s bridges using a boat, drums and the echo created beneath various bridges.
[©William Raban- Beating the Bridges]
One of the rarest pieces in the collection is William Henry Fox Talbot’s ‘Hungerford Bridge’ (1845). Housed under controlled conditions, the photograph is only visible for 10 seconds at a time and will only be displayed for the first month of the exhibition, so head down there soon to ensure you don’t miss it.
Museum of Docklands, West India Quay, E14 4AL. June 27- November 2, 10am-6pm. Free (donations welcomed), www.museumoflondon.org.uk
By Laura Sagar