tuula närhinen

A Nice Cup of Thames Low

The non-human archival labour of the Thames mud was explored through paper chromatography. The work makes use of the Pfeiffer Chroma-Test, a process deployed to assess the quality of the soil. Empty tea bags were filled with mud and soaked in a solution of diluted drain cleaner (sodium hydroxide) that broke up the organic substances. A filter paper treated with silver nitrate reacted with residues extracted from the sediments. Through capillary action and in presence of sunlight, the mud particles “developed” into different patterns and colours on the circular piece of filter paper. The resulting chromatograms were exhibited with Royal Doulton tea crockery and dehydrated chunks of clay collected from the foreshore right under Westminster.

Along methods associated with analytic chemistry, the installation draws from the history of photography and from tea-related rituals introduced to Britain in the early 1840s, the Victorian period of busy trade and high industrialism that brought Thames pollution to a culmination point; the Great Stink. In August 1858 members of the Parliament were forced to flee from Westminster for the overpowering foul stench of the river.

.Installation in the Lower Space the Beaconsfield Gallery. . . Chunks of clay, tea bags and Royal Doulton crockery displayd in the Upper Space gallery.