The main project this term will look at London Wall. I have photographed and plotted the route of the wall (see previous posts) and I have now created a small number of wall ‘blocks’ and created a test animation.
This animation is based on a group of images created at City Lit in late 2019 as part of a Printmaking Artist Residency. Forty images were made based on a photographic image of the Shell Building on London’s South Bank. The object of the project was to attempt to create images of buildings which would convey the evil inherent in their function. Shell has been at the heart of the oil industry for the past century and its headquarters building is an icon of climate change complacency. Each image is designed to communicate bad intentions and the animation, together with captions, seeks to tell something of their story.
The project this week has turned to stop motion, a form of animation that relies on still images to create a story. I have experimented with four short pieces, each designed to experiment with a different approach.
Centrepoint is a based on a single photographic image of the Centrepoint building in Central London. The images were printed using four colour separation with a variation in the mixture of ink colours to create a range of finished prints. These were incorporated into a stop motion animation with an added caption looking at the history of the building.
Great Arthur House is a the centre of Golden Lane Estate where I live. I have a view of this fifteen-floor tower block from my window. I made two dozen prints again using a single photographic image with a range of colour variations. In this case, I made some images that broke through the frame of the image and others in which there was a stencil overlay. This stop motion animation makes no political points but is designed to experiment with slightly out of register images overlaid over each other.
Looking for the wall reminds me of a similar attempt to find the Berlin Wall twenty years after much of it had been removed. I have spent the past two days walking from the Museum of London down by St Paul’s Temple Bar and Ludgate Circus as the landscape slopes towards the river at Blackriars. I now have an excellent book Walking London Wall by Ed Harris, to guide me. This map brings together most of the buildings that feature on the route and offer my first attempt to work out the exact route.
The map can be viewed with place names here.
This is the parish church of Saint Andrew by the Wardrobe. It is opposite the point where the Roman Wall met the River Thames and effectively the place where the wall starts. My job is to find out where the wall went. This is not that simple as much was buried or built over in the C17th and C18th. The exact point is at a place called Puddle Dock which is home to a very dull office block and the once delightful Mermaid Theatre which is no longer in business.
The route north from the church goes up in the direction of Ludgate Hill. Near the top of the hill is the first sign of the wall. This was discovered in a private cul-de-sac called Amen Court, home to St Paul’s Cathedral staff. This is hidden behind Amen Corner which is a rather fine 1960s apartment block.
Walking in the direction of St Paul’s Cathedral leads to the discovery of the only entrance to the London Wall still in existence. This is Temple Bar, formerly located at the entrance to Fleet Street and now a gateway to Paternoster Square (and the London Stock Exchange).
At the heart of the London Wall project is the need to map my walks and runs around and along the London Wall. Using the Stava app, I record each day what I do. Some days I walk the full route of the London Wall, on other days I run for part of it and on others I go astray and either cross the river to the South Bank or go further east to Stepney. This is a random selection of routes as I have not yet decided which is the ‘right’ route and how to map it. I would like to walk the exact route and I have now received a guide book called Walking London Wall which I am hoping will provide all of the answers.
Here is the point where the wall meets the river. After linking with the Tower of London, the route goes along the river but I am yet to find out if it went down to the river and if the river is anywhere near where it was in Roman times.
The road called London Wall links the Museum of London to the Tower of London. It was straightened during the 1960s in order to accommodate six identical office blocks, almost all of which have been demolished or in one case, reclad. It does not run along the Roman London Wall but comes pretty close to it. It is a reminder that little in the City of London is what it appears to be. The wall itself is difficult to find, much of it hidden in the shadows of the Barbican Estate. When you do find a spot to look at it, it is not obvious what is Roman and what is of a much more recent construction. I have started this project by taking some pictures. Here is a random selection.
This blog has focused on walking in the city, mainly London and the City of London linked to my role as a City of London guide. Over the past couple of years I have been studying as a printmaker mainly at City Lit and sometimes at East London Printmakers. My themes have remained pretty constant, the City, walking, looking at buildings and thinking about the way in which they connect. This year, my printmaking projects have looked at buildings in the City, building sites and lots of cranes (I have a particularly spectacular one next to my home). As I sit here in the City of London, locked in, locked down, I am taking exercise each day by walking and occasionally running along the London Wall. This is the Roman Wall which can most easily be seen near the Museum of London. My route takes me along the road called London Wall (bisecting the actual London Wall) down to the Tower of London; along the Riverside on the north bank; to the Millennium Bridge and up across to St Paul’s – a walk of some 7 kilometres. Each moment is monitored on my running app and when I get home, I discover the length of the walk, the height about sea level (not that a useful) but most importantly, it generates a route map. So I will look at the daily map, take pictures along the way and focus on the wall, where is it, where does it run, how much is Roman and ask what it does for the city and for me. Am I constrained by it in lock down or liberated by being close to a ruin that has survived about 2000 years?
To start, here are some of the previous term’s images.
London Wall is my starting point for a new printmaking project. Running from the Tower of London to the Museum of London, the wall built to defend London by the Romans remains a terrifying reminder of the power of an imposing structure to enclose and defend. Little remains above surface and much that is visible is medieval or later and much was destroyed but also uncovered as a result of the Blitz.
Printmaking excels at creating and manipulating layers, of paint, of ink, of paper and of many other materials. The London Wall is many-layered, highly textured and quite confusing. We know what it was for but what is it doing now? What value does it have for the city within an city at the heart of London and what lessons does a 2000-year old structure designed to enclose and defend have for a city under lockdown?
This project is part of a City Lit Advanced Digital and Printmaking course which will use the London Wall as the basis for a term of research and construction.