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Tideway Cups

The Story of the Tideway Rock Cups

The notion of an artist in residence is now fairly standard practice within many regeneration and infrastructure projects. It is a way of telling some of the stories of the people involved or exploring the history and culture of a place or situation.

Artists Heather Peak and Ivan Morison of Studio Morison were commissioned by Tideway to respond to the brief of 'digging'. After a period of research into tunnelling, the project and its geology and associated rituals they produced a limited-edition artwork for the tunnelling teams across the project.

The artists have taken moulds of samples found to create a vessel that feels like it has come from deep beneath the earth and layered with geology formations such as flints, gastropods and carbonites. The rock used to create the final mould was excavated at one of our key drive sites, Chambers Wharf in East London, and the bone china cups were made in Stoke on Trent.

There are six variations with hand applied glazes by the artists, each commemorating one of the tunnel boring machines used on the project (Millicent, Annie, Ursula, Selina, Charlotte and Rachel). The colours reference the particular geology of each section of the tunnel. When handed to those involved in the project, they were wrapped in individual blankets with a note of thanks from Tideway sewn into the hem. The cups reference the tradition of celebratory meals or dinners held in completed tunnels.

Heather Peak said: “Part sculpture, part performance and part functioning cup, this art commission tells the story of the tunnel being built under our feet, it will invite the owner to stop and take tea, it will stand as a symbol of the poetry of civic engineering and it will be a rather special thank you gift."

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