Boring Ends in Clay is the most recent work from the Pipeline: Doulton/ Bazalgette Project. This site-responsive collection of art pays tribute to the Victorian engineer Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the London sewer system, and ceramicist Henry Doulton, who was commissioned to create 1000 miles of pipes. This work is situated in the former o<ce of Joseph Bazalgette, when the building was once the o<ces of Westminster Commissioner for Works for Sewers in the mid-nineteenth century.
Together, the men created the vast ceramic underworld that is London’s life -saving sewer system, an invisible network that connects all its citizens. Clay spoil excavated from 25 metres below the Thames foreshore in the construction of London’s future interceptor sewer, has been used to make these ceramics. They re-imagine elements of Bazalgette’s vision of London set out in “Main Drainage Metropolis”, his volumes of hand painted sewer plans drawn up 160 years ago in this very building.
“Boring Ends in Clay” quotes from Bazalgette’s plans. This work links the historic context of the building itself with the artists exploration of the past and present, what is lost and what remains. Cooke’s interest in the physicality and evidence of transformation inhabits this room through her sculptures and celebrates the rich and enduring history of this building.
Alison Cooke sources clay from construction sites and historical locations in order to make ceramic artworks that reference the past, present or future of the location. The unpredictability of firing the unknown materials is embraced and utilised. London-based Cooke trained as a jeweller, made furniture and worked in documentary production. She is co-founder of the ceramics collective, the Associated Clay Workers Union (ACWU), and winner of the Henry Rothschild Ceramic Bursary. Supported by the Arts Council England and the Craft Pottery Charitable Trust.
With many thanks to Tideway for supplying 5 tonnes of clay spoil and Potclays for processing.
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