Museum of Water is a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories. Accumulating over two years in different sites worldwide, it is an invitation to ponder our precious liquid and how we use it.
As part of LIFT 2014, Somerset House are opening their doors for a rare look at the inside workings of Museum of Water. In the cavernous vaults under the courtyard, custodians of the Museum's collection work tirelessly to archive a growing collection of bottles and investigate our feeling for water. Come and see the collection so far, spend some time with this precious liquid, and bring something for the collection.
Commissioned by Artsadmin in partnership with LIFT, Somerset House, the Cultural Institute at King’s College London and the Canal & River Trust. A Create to Connect commission and Imagine 2020 project, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Originally commissioned by Artakt and LSHTM. The events programme is supported by Thames Tideway Tunnel.
6-29 June, 5 Strand Lane
Usually open by special arrangement only, the National Trust’s ‘Roman Bath’, on the King’s College London Strand Campus, will be open to the public every day during the run of Museum of Water. The Roman Bath, 5 Strand Lane is a spring-fed brick cistern under the back-building of No.33 Surrey Street. Reputed since the 1830s to be a Roman relic, it was in fact originally the cistern for an early seventeenth-century fountain in Somerset House, and was converted for use as a cold bath, after 150 years of neglect, in the 1770s. Its cold waters killed the MP and sculpture-collector William Weddell in 1792, and refreshed the young David in Ch. 35 of David Copperfield (1850).
Free Family Workshop: River Deep
7 June, 12pm-3pm
Somerset House West Wing
Join us for a 3-D modelling workshop creating sea creatures inspired by the watery sculptures around Somerset House.
Ritual and Religion on the River Thames (Nathalie Cohen)
9 June, 1pm-1.45pm
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing
When the tide is out, the Thames is the longest open-air archaeological site in London, and much of the foreshore is freely accessible to the public. However, many of the exposed archaeological sites are often unrecognised and unprotected, and almost all are vulnerable to the twice-daily scouring of the tidal river, and thus require close monitoring. The Thames Discovery Programme aims to communicate an understanding and informed enjoyment of the historic Thames to the widest possible audience.
Over the last 15 years Nathalie has worked on a number of different archaeological projects both at home and in Israel, the Czech Republic and Romania. Nathalie is an Honorary Research Associate at UCL, the Cathedral Archaeologist at Southwark Cathedral and also works for the Thames Discovery Programme and for the National Trust as the regional Archaeologist for Kent and East Sussex.
Ikon Slow Boat
16 June, 1pm – 3pm
The Slow Boat project brought young people together on a converted canal boat which acted as workshop space and mobile arts venue, navigating the canal systems of Birmingham and even venturing to London. Join Ikon Gallery Director Jonathan Watkins and Learning Co-ordinator Kate Self to hear more about the adventures of participatory art work on the canals.
Water and the Evolution of the Human Diet (Professor Stanley Ulijaszek)
17 June, 1pm-1.45pm
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing
Water is in many ways taken for granted in everyday life, but is fundamental to what we are and who we are. From population expansions out of Africa to the present-day, water has shaped migration and settlement patterns, foraging practices and behaviours, and food security both globally and locally. Water is embedded in human metabolism and in the structure of food. It is vital for food production and consumption. This talk will describe the many ways in which water is implicated in the human diet: if we are what we eat, what we eat and how we eat is shaped by water. You are welcome to bring your lunch!
Professor Stanley Ulijaszek is a nutritional anthropologist and Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.
Amy Sharrocks in conversation with Lucy Neal
18 June, 7.30pm-9pm
Artist Amy Sharrocks talks to Lucy Neal and discusses her unusual relationship with water, discussing all Amy’s water-related works including well-known projects such as SWIM, drift and Swim the Thames.
Midsummer Water Day, 21 June
The Drain Brain (Sir Peter Bazalgette)
23 June, 6.30pm
Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus
Sir Peter Bazalgette – Great-great-grandson of Victorian civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette, will talk about his ancestor’s achievements, and share images and objects with the audience, followed by a Q&A session. Chair of the Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette is a British television producer who helped to create the independent TV production sector in the United Kingdom, and went on to be the leading creative figure in the global TV company Endemol, producing hit television shows such as Big Brother.
Thames Baths Project: Re-introducing Swimming in the Thames (Chris Romer-Lee)
24 June, 1pm–1.45pm, Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing
The Thames Baths Project is about re-claiming the capital’s largest public space for Londoners. The proposals look to re-establish an intimate and playful link between Londoners and this historic lifeblood of the city. Imagine swimming in the River Thames, surrounded by reeds that frame tantalising views of the city around you. The Thames Baths are not just for swimmers, but provide refuge and habitat for fish, birds and a wide range of flora. This is the river like you’ve never seen it before. www.thamesbaths.com
Chris Romer-Lee is co-founder and director of award winning London architects Studio Octopi. The practice was established in 2003 and has completed a number of significant commissions including, the refurbishment of a 1000 seat amphitheatre in Berkshire and the largest artists residency in London. Chris has lived in London all his life, so the Thames Baths Project has a particular personal resonance
Food, water via land and climate: the interconnectedness of all things (Professor Tim Benton)
26 June, 6pm-7.30pm (free but booking essential)
Screening Room, Somerset House South Wing
Douglas Adams’ fictional detective, Dirk Gently, managed a ‘Holistic Detective Agency’ because ‘…”holistic” refers to my conviction that what we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.’ This truth is increasingly recognised in the inter-relationship between the food and water sectors, which both are affected by (and perhaps compete for) management of land, and are both impinged upon by climate change. Both are internationally traded, certainly water embedded within products we consume, and this trade affects local conditions and decision making. In this talk, Ulijaszek will outline some of the broad-brush issues and highlight some of the connections between water and food systems: where competition leads to trade-offs, where there may be synergies and where pressures on both are similar and require similar actions. This is a story of systems under pressure, facing increasing variability from external forcing: what does the future hold?
Prof Tim Benton BA, Oxford, PhD 1990, Cambridge, FSB, FLS. Professor of Population Ecology and UK Champion for Global Food Security coordinating work across this area between research councils and government departments.
For more information and to book tickets visit the Museum of Water website