On Saturday 20 July I joined a group of intrepid Bow explorers on a guided walk and cyanotype workshop with Bow Porcelain artist Felicity Hammond. We began with a quick coffee in the Carmelite Cafe and an introduction to the Made in Bow exhibition, Felicity’s research and production process behind the works on display.
Felicity explained her practice of creating a digital image to capture change through collaging moments of time in the re- shaping of a landscape. She also described how the Bow Porcelain project drew her to the history of Thomas Frye’s factory. There is very little documentation of this building, and for Made in Bow Felicity collaged a much broader timescape than has been her habit- including imagined references to this factory in the mid 1700s, warehouses built in the eighteenth century and present- day re- developments.
We then left the gallery as it began to brighten up and crossed the hectic Bow roundabout, down Statford High Street past the Thomas Frye Court development of new flats (above, which Felicity pretended to be a potential buyer to gain entry to and document the foorplan and view from the flats) to Marshgate Lane and the site of the original Bow Porcelain factory.
We then walked to Pudding Mill Lane DLR station (which was tricky as the whole of this area which was massively redeveloped last year for the Olympics is now a giant building site as part of the Crossrail project, and the original planned route by the river no longer accessible to the public) and up the bank on the other side to the Greenway.
Here, in the blazing sunshine we made drawings of our surroundings with marker pens on acetate and collected found objects and flora. These lines and objects were used to block the light passing on to our piece of cyanotype paper and created intricate, delicate and immediate prints.
These were carried carefully back to the gallery where they were washed and left out to dry and develop.
As Felicity had explained this is a similar process as that used to create architectural plans for new buildings and seemed a fitting response to both the degree of change in the landscape and Felicity’s interest in the history of the fabled chinoiserie style factory.
We all had a great day in, and outdoors engaging with history, stories and learning a new process to document a contemporary view from the site of original Bow Porcelain production.