Pipe drawings: Bermondsey

These building-based drawings were a project I did in the mid-1990s near Bermondsey, south London. They were architectural interventions using polyurethane household pipes (white – overflow; grey – waste; black – rainwater).

Pipe drawings - Weston stThey were fixed onto walls in public sites without permission, and most of them are no longer in place. The piece in the top photo was an exception, in that it was installed on the roof of a building on Union Street, with the permission of a representative of the then owner. I don’t know if it is still there.

The form the pieces took was dictated by the architecture or fixtures where they were installed.

Pipe drawings - Bermodsey stInstalling the pieces became performances (although this wasn’t initially my intention) as passers by frequently stopped to ask what I was doing. My answer usually involved denying any knowledge, but if pressed I explained I’d been paid by an artist to install them. I took to wearing a hi-viz vest and a safety helmet for the installations, to make myself seem more convincing. I was only threatened with arrest once (installing the black rainwater pipes around the windows – near Bermondsey Street tunnel).

Bankside Rain WaterWhile installing the piece above (black rainwater pipes on the faccade of an old hose factory on the then developing site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre), I was befriended by the butler of the house next door, and invited in for tea. He had been a florist in South Africa and had had to leave his family there during the apartheid regime because of the victimisation he experienced as a gay man. He showed me around the house, explaining some of its history. Apparently Christopher Wren lived there when he oversaw construction of St Paul’s Cathedral across the river.

Pipe drawings - Weston st

 

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