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Clay Cargo 2014 Collection: the Thames Foreshore

An exhibition of poems and images commissioned as part of Clay Cargo 2014 can be seen until February 15th in Pancras Library, part of the new Camden City Hall, 5 Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG.  The library is open 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday and 11-5 on Sundays.  The associated publication can be obtained by contacting Clayground.

Barry Taylor and Matthew Raw on the Thames
Barry Taylor, poet, and Matthew Raw, artist.

Clayground Collective delves into all things clay, connecting people to renew engagement with this universal material.  For the last two years, we have been digging and making things with the public along the canals and waterways  in London, Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent in a project called Clay Cargo.  This year, we worked with poets and artists to dig deeper into what clay has to offer.

We have worked with poets Rachel Long, Elisabeth Charis and Barry Taylor and artists specialising in clay David Binns, Rob Kesseler and Matthew Raw.

This post is about the Thames Foreshore.  Poet Barry Taylor and artist Matthew Raw joined a walk on the beach to gather ceramic fragments with archaeologist and Clayground Associate, Mike Webber.  Mike has an encyclopaedic knowledge of London’s great trading waterway.  A wealth of ceramic traces survive more or less where they fell into the water.  The flow does not sweep them out to sea but churns them with each tide.

Matthew Raw took inspiration from this eternal movement and the Tudor roof tiles he found, (some burned in the Great Fire) to make a piece called Churn, created from carved letters in cardboard and raw clay.


Tudor Tiles

Poet Barry Taylor, visiting the Foreshore for the first time, was also inspired by the wealth of history to be found there.  These are just two extracts, 7 and 8, from his poem Foreshore Findings:


potter’s field
unharvested remains
strewed random
over stony ground

Deep memory trove
we scavenge
its shifting crags
and banks,
in the tracks
of Mud Larks,
Night Plunderers,
Scuffle Hunters

Faint hubbubs
unstoried voices
from raucous wharves
and market halls
packed clamorous docks
and burning streets

by each new tide
from the crunch
and whisper
of foreshore
stone and clay

we stoop
and listen


a thumb-print
in the crook
of a snapped
jug handle

blank hollow
scooped out
and smoothed
by the moon
and its apprentices
the all-erasing tides

scabby street cat
streaking through
some hectic
cat mission

swift paw dabbed
and sealed into
drying tiles

that maker’s mark,
that skittering second,
in these shards
the river tended

a half-brick, stamped
J. Wils, two fire-red
amphora rims,
and poking between,
a tide-scoured
pipe stem sheared
from the still warm bowl

pale hollow
frail survivor


If you would like a copy of the publication and to see poems and images in full, please contact Clayground.  The 50 page publication is £8 plus postage.

The next Foreshore walk is Saturday January 24th 2015 starting 1030.  More details soon.  Please contact Clayground for details.

Clay Cargo is made possible by our partners, including:

  Clayground logosmall   Print    CRT_Logo1   Print    UAL logo.jpeg    ikon_logo 100x200 px
Potclays Limited (Green)   MP & PRT  Camden-logo-2014.-LARGE  KingsCross_logo_CMYK