London holds so much history and the river Thames is the landmark that has stood through it all, leading to it being referred to as “liquid history”. There is evidence of humans living off the river dating back to Neolithic times - some 12,000 years ago - and it is incomprehensible to think just how many people have subsequently engaged with the Thames.

Polly's Thames work explores what the Thames leaves behind, and how it holds its “liquid history". Transforming found objects from the Thames, Polly creates collated relics of the environmental and social aspects such an iconic river has had on the city of London. Using the natural weathering of the water, or the man-made objects lost to the world but unearthed by the tide, the resulting works are vessels of time, reminiscing of the people who came before, and the environmental shifts that are happening right below our feet.

What’s Left Behind
What’s Left Behind

36 x 25 cm (each) MDF, air-drying clay, grout, pigment and clay pipes, 2020

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What’s Left Behind
What’s Left Behind

36 x 25 cm (each) MDF, air-drying clay, grout, pigment and clay pipes, 2020

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Remains
Remains

30 x 19 cm Collected clay pipes and bones, pigment and grout on MDF, 2020

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Remains
Remains

30 x 19 cm Collected clay pipes and bones, pigment and grout on MDF, 2020

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Originating in Africa, Memory Jugs became extremely popular in the Victorian era as they memorialised the dead with personal objects, and connected the dead to the afterlife by way of water. 
Looking at the surface of these vessels, Polly has used discarded broken clay pipes and shards of bone from the Thames to reflect the individuals who once handled them, as it is said that personal possessions are often broken before being applied to Memory Jugs to help release the individual’s spirit.
The panels, or ‘memorial plaques’, show the relief of the objects, to emphasise the void that is left once someone has gone.

Memory Loss
Memory Loss

54 x 38.5 cm MDF, air drying clay and clay pipes, 2020

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Memory Loss
Memory Loss

54 x 38.5 cm MDF, air drying clay and clay pipes, 2020

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Urn
Urn

Mixed media, 2020

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Urn
Urn

Mixed media, 2020

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Token
Token

75 x 24 cm Resin and Thames clay, 2020

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Token
Token

75 x 24 cm Resin and Thames clay, 2020

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‘A Collection of Memories I & II’
‘A Collection of Memories I & II’

16.5 x 5.5 x 6 cm 12 x 7 x 6 cm Mixed media 2020

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‘A Collection of Memories I & II’
‘A Collection of Memories I & II’

16.5 x 5.5 x 6 cm 12 x 7 x 6 cm Mixed media 2020

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Found objects from the Thames foreshore by Cadogan Pier - Thames Clippers.
Found objects from the Thames foreshore by Cadogan Pier - Thames Clippers.

Objects include broken clay pipes, glass shards, a bead, and Victorian clay marbles.

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Found objects from the Thames foreshore by Cadogan Pier - Thames Clippers.
Found objects from the Thames foreshore by Cadogan Pier - Thames Clippers.

Objects include broken clay pipes, glass shards, a bead, and Victorian clay marbles.

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Cotton is transformed into a relic of London’s industry. By allowing rusty industrial artefacts, like buckles and nails, to shed in water, only their traces are left, mimicking the environment in which they were found: the Thames foreshore, and as these objects once symbolised prosperity and trade, and in more basic terms, the movement of people globally, it seemed fitting the rusted garments conveyed movement and portability. 

This idea took Polly outside to photograph the work, and subsequently she looked into methods of anchoring them. Flagpoles were raised, and the rusty objects became weights, being sown into the hems of the stained cotton to anchor the fabric from the wind, a trick originating in the 1800s to keep ladies garments shapely.

Canvas
Canvas

92 x 184 cm Cotton, rust, hessian and bamboo, 2020

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Canvas
Canvas

92 x 184 cm Cotton, rust, hessian and bamboo, 2020

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Remnants
Remnants

Both pieces of cotton are approx. 92 x 45 cm Cotton and found rusted objects, 2020

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Remnants
Remnants

Both pieces of cotton are approx. 92 x 45 cm Cotton and found rusted objects, 2020

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