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Tideway launches vision for public art to celebrate history and culture of the River Thames

With construction of London’s new ‘super sewer’ set to create three new acres of public land next to the River Thames, the company delivering the tunnel has unveiled how the rich history of London’s river will help shape the design of these new areas.

Tideway today launched its Public Art and Heritage Interpretation strategies outlining the development of public realm and public art for the Thames Tideway Tunnel - including permanent commissions for the foreshore structures that will remain after construction is finished, artwork on hoardings around Tideway sites and temporary commissions.

Art on a wall

The strategies, following extensive research on the river as a whole and at each site, aim to provide inspiration and reference for artists commissioned to work with Tideway. The Heritage Interpretation Strategy will also allow partner organisations, such as the Museum of London’s Thames Discovery Programme, to provide opportunities for people of all ages to personally encounter the heritage of the Thames foreshore.

Sir Peter Bazalgette, the great-great grandson of Sir Joseph Bazalgette and former chair of Arts Council England, said:

“The Thames Tideway Tunnel is a grand, ambitious project. It will create new public amenities along the river. Challenging artists to bring all this to life celebrates the project while sharpening our sense of place. Just as the art, architecture and design of the Victorian Embankments and pumping stations expressed the spirit of that age.”

Public art and heritage launch

Duncan Wilson CEO Historic England said:

“Taking the concept “River of Liberty” as its overarching theme, the Heritage Interpretation Strategy looks at the Thames as a rich and complex allegory, encompassing the delivery of London from the tyranny of disease, dynamic concepts of personal liberty, and individual stories which reflect the many communities and aspirations associated with the Thames.”

Clare Donnelly, Tideway’s lead architect, said:

“This is a major cultural collaboration for the design of new public realm informed by the rich heritage of the river, which in terms of major UK infrastructure projects is unprecedented. Tideway will commission the highest quality artworks, responsive to each of our sites across London.  A bold programme of commissions of varying scale and profile, temporary and permanent, will explore multiple aspects of the River Thames and help to reposition it as a new cultural venue.”

Ken Whittaker, Tideway’s Archaeology and Heritage Manager, said:

“The Heritage Interpretation and Public Art Strategies together offer the prospect of a truly exciting, authentic and innovative collaboration of skills, knowledge and creativity - drawn across the spheres of heritage, art and culture - to offer people new, original and contemporary experiences of the remarkable River Thames. They remind Londoner’s of a heritage that resonates with their lives, experiences and concerns; and accords with London’s aspiration to be a tolerant and progressive global city, open for business and much else.”

The strategies were launched today at the National Theatre, attended by delivery partners and key stakeholders including City of London, local authority arts officers, Historic England and Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).

Tideway has already commissioned a number of artists:

Lubna Chowdhary (

Nathan Coley (

Tim Davies (

Ruth Ewan (

Renata Fernandez (

Leo Fitzmaurice (

Joy Gerrard (

Knut Henrik Henriksen (

Edwin Mingard (

Simon Roberts (

Florian Roithmayr (

Lucy Skaer (

Sarah Staton (

John Walter (

Information about Tideway’s future commissions will be made available at

Information on the Public Art and Heritage Interpretation Strategies can be found at