Saturday, October 19, 2013

Loving the river...

Last chance to see Estuary, an exhibition at the Docklands Museum (or Museum of London, Docklands), just a hop away on the DLR (West India Quay) or an easy walk or cycle ride via the Greenwich foot tunnel.

If you love the River Thames, this is for you. It's an art exhibition about the Thames from London to the sea, and there are paintings and photographs, but actually, it's the films that make the entry price  (NONE! It's FREE!) alone worth going. The most engaging films are on the 3rd floor away from the main exhibition. Called "Portrait of a River" you'll find a series of short films all made by Nikolaj Bendix Skyum Larsen, which bring contemporary life on the Thames into sharp focus, in contrast to a more historical but also engaging film downstairs by William Raban.

Larsen's series of films are unpretentious and not at all "arty" and Deptford gets a mention with a little film about the Ahoy Centre's activities, but don't expect much about south of the river. Our time is coming (or at least it's nearer than it ever was).

The Museum is also housed in a restored warehouse, and worth the visit alone. Around and about, you'll see construction in the area continues unabated, with more towers going up (and luxury flats sold off-plan before a single piece of concrete has been laid).

This show finishes next weekend (27th October), so don't miss!

Meanwhile, a new show opens at the National Maritime Museum on Monday: Nelson, Navy, Nation  The Story of the Royal Navy and the British People, 1688–1815. It's the 18th Century, and the exhibition explores "how the Royal Navy shaped everyday lives as it became a central part of society and turned sea-faring heroes into national celebrities."

The Fall of Nelson, Battle of Trafalgar, 21 October 1805 by Denis Dighton circa 1825 © NMM

It opens on Monday 21st because that's apparently Trafalgar Day. Obviously we'll reserve judgement having not been privileged to preview the show, but on the main webpage for the exhibit, there's a link to "bustling dockyards" and it doesn't go to Deptford, but to a picture of Plymouth. Doh! What is wrong with these people? Oh well, Deptford wasn't the only Royal dockyard, of course. It's just simply the most forgotten. What a scoop they missed! Still, if they've managed to conjure up any atmosphere regarding dockyard life, you can apply it to Deptford.

The good news is this is also FREE! And on Monday, if you're about, there's a Sea Shanty crew The Scorpian Band promenading around 11am, 2pm and 3pm. There are also a host of other free activities going on for the duration of the exhibition (no idea when it ends) and of course there's lots more exhibitions and events going on at the Museum other than this one – for instance, the now permanent show Traders: the East India Company and Asia which, in our interpretation, shows us how capitalism took root after the state sponsored piracy of earlier years, and whose practices are easily recognisable in 21st capitalism, proving history repeats itself to our detriment...

To get a flavour of the Nelson, Navy, Nation exhibition check out the video at the BBC News Magazine. The video ends with Cleverley's painting of Deptford Dockyard (the one that is pictured in the mural at the top of Frankham Street) and the words: "in order to understand where we are now and the particularities of our relationship with the maritime world – and with national identity – you cannot ignore what was happening then".

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