Hydracity – Towards Watery Commons

HydraCity – towards Watery Commons.

An ExhibitionThames-Side Gallery 10th September – 26th September with a programme of walks, performances, and interactive artworks.

Hydracity asks us to observe and imagine London and its hinterland in new ways, by inviting artists and audiences to re-experience this fluid, shifting and untameable environment. What is it that circulates beneath our feet oozing from the muddy delta of the Thames as we explore the interconnected labyrinth of watery commons intersecting urban spaces, that flow across, through and into us?

This exhibition will focus on our experience of these watery commons while exploring fluid collective co-creation. You are invited to collaborate in this artistic project to reimagine the city as a watery ecosystem. By re-evaluating the city as a space shaped by water, we’ll track the nature and extent of the radical changes wrought on the valley’s watery arteries, while creating alternative visions, and understandings.

Hydracity also re-imagines the city’s river system as slowly evolving tentacled organism, much like a hydra’s looping locomotion. By observing water – its capacity to merge fluidity and solidity – we can see it as a regenerative resource and even a metaphor for shifting times.  This ever-changing environment of the aqueous commons reflects something of the hydra-like city, whose ability to rejuvenate offers overlapping narratives for this complex watery labyrinth. For the exhibition at Thames-side Gallery InspiralLondon creates a unique sculptural labyrinth map that interacts with other activities, archives, experiences and with potential walks across the city.

Artists, artist groups and collectives have been invited to contribute to Hydracity, by coming together in this search for our watery commons. The exhibition launches a number of specially commissioned public artworks that includes Hydrodetours guided walks; performances; sound and sculptural installation; performative lectures; films and an interactive watery archive. Together, making alternative narratives for places, people and the landscape within London’s Thames basin by immersing ourselves in different ways of understanding the city’s waterways, and in experiencing the complex ecosystems and surprising biodiversity sustained by them.

InspiralLondon is an artistic exploration of London’s urban environment and ecology through on the ground mapping with the aim to create a network of alternative histories, stories and experiences of the  commons. This collective art project is an opportunity for artists to re-imagine the Thames Delta as a fluid and dream-like ecosystem, unpredictable, ever shifting and dissolving and ultimately mysterious.

Preview: Friday 10 September 2021, 6-9pm, exhibition opens Saturday 11 September 2021

Exhibition dates: Saturday 11 – Sunday 26 September 2021   Open Thursday-Sunday, 12-5pm

Hydracity creates a tentacular fluid celebration of the shifting powers of water as it flows down the Thames. As we look beyond into a fluid future – our cities ever thirsty for water – flowing into an uncertain present, the Hydra, an organism whose legendary regenerative ability provides extra-ordinary metaphors for the Thames’ own regenerative powers. HydraCity invites artists to uncover and investigate the river basin of the Metropole with all the interlocking forms, ideas, and currents that flow in and out of Thames waters; a range of interactions with the liquid undercurrents that flow into and along the tidal Estuary.

Hydracity – Towards Watery Commons (InspiralLondon project November 2020- April 2022) is a fluid, open celebration of the shifting powers of water; exploring together the metropole’s consumption and management of natural and artificial souces of water – a vital resource that simultaneously sustains and threaten London’s infrastructure. What is the future? How do we encourage other ways of seeing and experiencing the watery commons; uncover, discover and recover the spiritual well-being inherent in this watery realm while acknowledging the climate crisis; the role of the tidal barrier, other defences; the wetlands, the threat of inundation or in the annual flooding – healing potential. Finally, how water, fundamental to life, suggests other fluid states of being, other realms, circulations and possibilities.

For Hydrodetours and updates on Hydracity project or visit partner/event website: LV21   Estuary Festival

“As watery, we experience ourselves less as isolated entities, and more as oceanic eddies:

I am a singular, dynamic whorl dissolving in a complex, fluid circulation.

The space between ourselves and our others is at once as distant as the primeval sea,

yet also closer than our own skin—the traces of those same oceanic beginnings

still cycling through us, pausing as this bodily thing we call “mine.”

Water is between bodies, but of bodies,

before us and beyond us, yet also very presently this body, too.”

(Neimanis, Astrida. “Hydrofeminism: Or, On Becoming a Body of Water.” P.96 –in Undutiful Daughters: Mobilizing Future Concepts, Bodies and Subjectivities in Feminist Thought and Practice, eds. Henriette Gunkel, Chrysanthi Nigianni and Fanny Söderbäck. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.)


Rivers & Streams (le livre du ruisseau – published September 2019) – Christine Breton et al