Saturday, 6 October 2012

Thames Mudlarking: A Day's Finds.

Late last night a clipboard of google tabs were open as husband and I planned our Friday date. Our day had to be planned with military precision, as low tide was later than usual and we had to be back at 3:30 to welcome our youngest home from school.

I was hankering after a mudlark- which has become my antidote to the slavery of work. Failed to ensnare husband in this part of the plan. He was quite emphatic, pointing out he wants to make pottery not pick up old pieces.

Bounced down the road excited about our day. As the bus jerked its way over tarmac darkened with wet, noticed almost everyone was dressed in something black. Loose low grey clouds were moving purposefully in the shots of sky framed by London architecture. Funny time of year this – feels too warm and green leaved to be Autumn, but the slanted light, evenings drawing in and greying weather all say otherwise. Autumn is the first season which has made itself present on the foreshore.
I was the first down there today. The tide was going out so fast it threw up small waves.  I took some photos of my first finds in situ for Paige from Florida, who has been wondering...

Mudlarking Finds In Situ
Couldn’t quite settle into the rhythm of it today, probably because I only had an hour. Surprised to see quite a few people down there today. Nothing stands out as find of the day, but some satisfying pieces none the less.

First find was this chucky stoneware piece with relief moulding of vine leaves and grapes clutching the top, I suspect from mid 19th Century. 
Mudlarking Find: White Stoneware with Vines
Pleased with this attractive and unusual piece of delft, with similar dentric patterns to mocha ware.
Mudlarking Find: Delftware 
Surprised to come across a bottle hundreds of years old, but with cork still intact. Now that I’ve clocked the mother of pearl very aware of its abundance in one foreshore section, the reflected light kept morse coding me. Found an incredible patch at low tide, just chocker with bits of crockery, mainly plain white, but intersperse with tiny, wafer thin pieces of porcelain, my favourite polychrome piece with the tiny house, in the centre below. 

Mudlarking Find: bottle with cork
Mudlarking Finds: Porcelain Shards

I clearly picked up rather a lot in an hour, more of the same really clay pipes, glass bottle necks, handles, strainer, quite few 'browns' including  slipware, stoneware and what I suspect are very old tiles. The blues are westerwald, delft, transferware, spongeware, porcelain....
Mudlarking Finds: Pottery shards, glass and clay pipes
I had 10 minutes to get to the Whitechapel art gallery to meet husband.  I do love this gallery. I like the fact you literally swing out of the tube and round again into its doorway, its modern interior and collection of small galleries poked into all corners of this historic building. All the artists were new to me. Matt Stokes double viewing video ‘Give to me the life I love’ was inspired, a brilliant if uneasy capturing of Bengali London stories, poetry, cash and carry, racism, music & protection rackets. An  unexpected highlight for me. The other was Italian artist Giuseppe Penone’s Spazio di Luce (space of light), a larch tree cast in bronze, but not in a straight forward way, completely beautiful, confusing, calming & wonderous.
Giuseppe Penone's Spazio di Luce, Whitechapel Gallery
It was all just up husband’s street as I’d suspected, with his preference for sculpture and left field. His favourite was Maurizio Cattelan’s industrial bag of rubble from Milan’s Contemporary Art Pavilion bombed by the Mafia. Can’t finish without a mention of the squirrel’s suicide, which I want to say was funny but somehow it wasn’t, making the human condition seem even more sorrowful.
Maurizio Cattelan at Whitechapel Gallery
The final part of the plan was to make our way along Whitechapel Road to Fieldgate (therein must lie a story) to Tayyabbs which serves the best tarka dhal I’ve ever tasted, which my canny sister Laura introduced to me this year. It has such a vibrant and interesting mix of people, a real fisheye into this part of London. We concluded that going out for lunch is better than evening dining. Somehow it seems more extravagant, indulgent, spontaneous and you tend not to over order, avoiding all that that entails.  Very sleepy we were rocked into a stupor on the train back. Tried to preserve that state as I walked home, at 2pm we returned earlier than expected so I drifted off to sleep,  despite our eldest son’s rap, for a luxury two hour nap.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you thank you!! These photos are PERFECT!! My heart actually started beating faster when I saw them...I can't imagine how I would react to actually seeing such treasure in REAL LIFE!!! As always, I love seeing your posts (you are such a visual writer!) So thank you for sharing. :) Paige from Florida