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Alex Evans’ Artistic Residency at Tower Bridge: Exploring the Sublime

Readers of SEEN will know that we are huge fans of Alex Evan’s liminal renderings of London. Now he has furthered his artistic practice with a residency in Tower Bridge itself. His exquisite pen and ink drawings, plus new work consisting of 2D contour drawings, digital print-making, and 3D pieces in Portland stone (one of the key materials used in the construction of the Bridge), mirror and silk are now on display inside the Bridge’s South Tower. They explore architecture, geometry, nature and the mercurial persona of the tower itself.

Square 1 by Alex Evans

Earlier in the year, SEEN had the pleasure of accompanying Alex and several other artists and interested parties along a walk from Rotherhithe to Tower Bridge. We observed, we sketched, we talked or remained silent and considered the many meanings of the architecture of Tower Bridge as we drew close to it. How marvellous then to visit the preview for the inaugural exhibition, ‘Beauty and the Bridge’ and finally see what Alex has been creating.

Throughout his residency, Alex has explored the concept of the ‘sublime’ – a literary, artistic and scientific understanding of landscape, materials and the human experience. SEEN can remember discussing this concept on the walk from Rotherhithe. So much history and innovation is encapsulated in Tower Bridge, but it cannot stand alone as a sort of monolith. The people passing through, under, in and around it have a meaningful relationship with it too. There is no finer sight than rivercraft passing through it when the bridge is raised (which happened on the day of the walk).

Decay by Alex Evans

Alex has captured the structure of the bridge in its many moods; gothic, forbidding, the horror haunt of crows, but has also captured its almost religious use of repeat patterns and unexpected framings, whereby the joists of the bridge reveal or constrict certain viewpoints.

In keeping with the disorienting effects of the glass walkway, Alex has captured disorienting visions of the bridge itself. It may look like one thing from the outside but it seems to have many mysterious identities when one is within, reflecting its rich history and the adaptations of modern technology that make it so accessible to modern visitors, very much a structure for the 21st century.

Finials Below by Alex Evans

Alex also led a series of dynamic, interactive and thought-provoking workshops with children aged 7 to 10 years old from the Boutcher Primary School in Southwark. By exploring the unique architectural qualities of Tower Bridge through drawing, collage and photography, the children produced a series of kaleidoscopic visions, which are on display in the West Walkway as part of this exhibition. These playful artworks share an engaging vision of Tower Bridge as seen through the eyes of young Londoners. They are joyful and uplifting in themselves and engage the viewer in looking at the Bridge in yet another way. Tower Bridge is successfully spanning the river, north and south, the past and the future. SEEN looks forward to seeing Alex’s work again soon and other artists’ residencies in the future.

Alex Evans says “It’s an honour to be the first Artist in Residence and hold such great responsibility for shaping the Residency at the Bridge for future artists. This amazing experience been socially engaged, responsive and critical and has allowed me to really develop my practice. Tower Bridge has such fantastic spaces; intriguing, conflicting and surprising. By opening its doors to creatives who see the potential of the spaces for events, artworks or narratives, the building can thrive as a cultural centre and space for the development of new works and interpretations”.

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge Road