Talks and tours
Somerset House Studios

Anabasis to Dora curated by Eloise Hawser

Next trip
Sat 29 Apr 2017
09.00-16.00, £15.00
Locations vary

'Anabasis to Dora' is a programme of multi-site visits curated by artist Eloise Hawser, based on research into unusual and contested spaces, museums and collections around the UK.

Following the first trip to London Vintage TV Museum, the next installment in series moves focus to London’s infrastructure with a bus trip to Beckton sewage treatment works and Crossness via Thamesmead. These waste disposal and transport sites form the functional backbone of the city, interconnected by largely unseen subterranean systems, moving fluids, waste and data around in a constant, necessary flow.

The group will travel from Somerest House via mini-bus to Beckton, which marks the confluence of London’s northern and southern outfall sewers. The 260-acre site has been home to a treatment works for a century, and displays a rare array of different architectural tropes in its myriad buildings and structures. It also plays host to wildlife, a collection of Brutalist incinerators, a cylindrical pond, and all with an unexpectedly agrarian look to it. 

The second part of trip explores Crossness, a now out-of-use Victorian sewage pumping station, fronted by ornate, almost church-like nineteenth century ironwork, a sunken void at the back hinting at its less attractive function. Crossness – adorned in ornate, richly painted ironwork – has been dubbed a ‘cathedral on the marsh’. It is both an expression of grand nineteenth-century ambition and a fundamentally utilitarian structure serving the most unglamorous necessities of a human population.

Between sites the group will stop briefly at two above-ground pumping stations, 1980s architectural commissions by Thames Water: the richly coloured, temple-like frontage of John Outram’s stormwater pumping station on the Isle of Dogs, and Richard Rogers’ pumping station at Royal Victoria Dock. These structures, designed by pre-eminent architects: acting as houses for huge utilitarian machines. Taken together, we may find surprising echoes in these sites’ adornment of our utilities through the ages, and will have a chance to consider the possibility of the architectural containment of infrastructural sites as a genre in itself.

The Anabasis Tours website serves as a record of the trips, to which attendees will be invited to add images, text and other contributions. This open-ended process is intended to form a starting point for new modes of exchange. 

Anabasis to Dora 1a

how to attend

Preference will be given to those with experience or demonstrable interest in fields of particular relevance to each site visit, and attendees will be invited to document the trip in some way to share with the dedicated site. Transport from Somerest House is included in the ticket.

If you are interested in joining us on this trip please send an email to studios@somersethouse.org.uk by no later than Thursday 20 April 2017, telling us briefly why you are interested in that particular site. We will let you know if we're able to confirm your place by Friday 21 April 2017. The trip is limited to a group of 15 people, due to the nature of the sites being visited, so if you would like to attend, get in touch as soon as possible.

The next trip on Thursday 25 May will explore transport sites and how the excavation of the tunnel is retrieving the buried and unknown. Details announced soon.