Botanical Entanglements – from Dartford Marsh to Gravesend.

A unique collective walk led by artist Susie Bear (30 October 2021) from Dartford Marsh to Botany Marsh and beyond.

Another unique InspiralLondon watery commons exploration through South London to the origins of the in/spiral Trail at Gravesend to “enfold us into a material tapestry of collective understanding” (Dr. Mikey Georgson)

“We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.” (TS Eliot – from Little Gidding)


A new entanglement of the UEL Art Foundation in a collective encounter with InspiralLondon Trail – as part of their continuing Cultural Landscapes walks: “This process based student project is an example of how intuitive research can enfold us into a material tapestry of collective understanding” Dr Mikey Georgeson.

A Marshland Inspiral:

The Thames footpath leads you out from Dartford (Bridge Development) down to Gravesend, passing through the old Littlebrook power station site; then down to Greenhithe (Ingress Park). Passing under Queen Elizabeth II Bridge we note the shrine as we leave behind the newly constructed island stronghold of the tribe Amazon Prime. Behind their walls, a concrete desert, but before us lies the unkempt beauty of Swanscombe Peninsula. The group winds their way through the conservation area – Botany Marsh Northfleet (to the south part of Swanscombe Marsh peninsula). Swanscombe Marsh recently became a SSSI protected by Natural England as one of the most bio-diverse parts of the city’s watery commons. Home of rare invertbrates like the jumping spider.  Swanscombe Marsh also retains the ghostly memory of our prehistoric origin.

Under the roar of the Queen Elizabeth Bridge we stop to wonder at this watery shrine. A reminder of all the other bodies, lying close, beneath the surface.

The new Amazon Prime Depot with its 10m high pile flood defence wall. On its bare rust a feeble planting of monocultivar hybrids to hide this violent barrier, that cuts into the marshy Thames edge. On the River fringe with all its uncultivated pioneers – willow herb fireweed and elderberry, buddliea and dog rose, wild fennel and reedrushes

Swanscombe Creek – a hidden enclave, we begin to sense this other world, outside time, outside the pressing zoom of Amazon, of Lafarge, the giant multinationals dissolving. In June this year, Inspiral made another collective walk across Swanscombe Marsh encountering this rich unkempt Thameside wilderness*. Talking to the resident creek dweller, we were only mildly surprised to find the land owner of this largely quarried out waterlogged realm, was the multinational company Lafarge. Lafarge, who a thousand miles south owns the hillsides of North Marseille. And precisely there in its hollowed-out crater, a reservoir, now the ‘hijacked’ source of the Aygalades River. Just one more common tale of watery walking in/circulation. Read more here: WAN Blog

“CODA – A Watery Commons

What does this confrontation with, this exploration of, and final, dissolution into a watery commons presage? Beyond the terror of natures’ energies and powers, the hydra, both in its mythic form and in its strange extended life cycle, entices us towards an other world, and other ways of understanding. It offers a baptism, through water’s fluidity and a decentering of our self-form. Where do we begin, where end, in life, in death?

How easily we become fascinated …we are emerging from a forced alienation from nature, from the violence of civilisation, into another landscape. Where the forces of separation dissolve into fluid liquefying imagination.

And where first is that separation most apparent, most tenacious and pernicious for ourselves as human? If not in each one of us, as we cling to outdated notions of being and our being in the world. Our bodies which we appear to control, to regulate in order for us to continue to hold onto our notion of separation. And yet we are captivated by the erotic, the forces of a nature hidden deep into the wellsprings of our being. The natural rhythms of life, endlessly broken and fragmented each day, each hour, each second in our anxiety, our impatience, our passions that overrule, submerging the other that lives equally inside of us, the natured sense of being, enraptured by the earth, with all its mysterious life. But we who are part of it, remain apart from it, unless and until we let ourselves flow back into its fluid unpredictable beauty. Into the overpowering flows and intricate streams of Nature’s prehistoric energy, in an other time frame, outside of clock time, in a fluvial embrace.

There is nothing alien here. It is a return. We who were borne up out from the waters – whose evolution, life and existence is predicated on water’s life-giving properties – know it well. It is the warm hands plunged into freezing water, the touch of flowing water enveloping our skin, or in a thermal spring, interrupting the hot sweat of walking, as we tear off our shoes and socks, in the gentle pleasure of cold massaging water on the soles of our feet. And now with our feet exposed, we feel the soft ground, a thick mud oozing into our pores and feeding us, as the soil nourishes a plant. Now the body can celebrate without fear the annual floods, the torrential monsoon like-rains, the sucking bubbling marshlands, as reservoirs of life, in an endless watery recycling. For we sense it, once the goddess Hydra dies, there will be no water, no life, no renewal… no rebirth.” (Charlie Fox – November 2021)