Tom Hackett
Vertical River

Archive / Sculpture

The project was developed in reaction to a visit to the River Seven at Worcester (UK) where I encountered various flood markings. At Worcester City Art Gallery I came across several 18th Century river paintings, secondary extensions of a primary encounter. I decided to raise the question, how exactly do we define a river, by its banks, its location or by the water itself? If you remove a bucket of water from the River Thames and pour it into the river Rhine, at what point does it cease to be the Thames? If removed it from the locality completely, what then does it become?

Rowing up and down the river for 24 hours between 2 fixed points, I stopped every 5 minutes to collect a test tube of river water. Afterwards, the test tubes were suspended chronologically beside the historic river paintings.

The live action intended to set a myth into play, of a man about a functional task of sampling or testing. The installation itself aimed to evoke the form a bizarre distended chandelier as well as encoding a quasi scientific taxonomical process.

Vertical River was a futile attempt to capture and fix the unfixable. Currently stored in one hour crates this snap shot of the river Severn is arguably now closer in function to that museum archive or object.

Vertical River was subsequently shown at Oriel Mostyn in Llandudno, Wales as part of the exhibition Afon/River (2000).
Commissioned by Deborah Dean.

Link to the project