River Thames Foreshore, London
In central London, it is difficult to get out in nature on a daily basis but I have taken to trespassing on the foreshore of the Thames in various locations after my lovely friend Hannah introduced me to mudlarking. It’s a beautiful way to feel space and peace in the middle of London and the noise of hundreds of old pipe stems washing up against each other on the waves has a healing effect on my brain.
The Thames foreshore is full of history and feels like the ultimate treasure hunt. The atmosphere down there is peaceful, but also tense as people float around with their gaze fixed to the ground, not sure what magic they might find.
“All the foreshore in the UK has an owner. Metal detecting, searching or digging is not a public right and as such it needs the permission of the landowner. The PLA and the Crown Estate are the largest land owners of Thames foreshore and jointly administer a permit which allows searching or digging.” (photo of old pipe stems)
Some spots of the foreshore remind me of a location in my favourite trilogy The Liveship Traders by Robin Hobb, a place called the Others Island where beautifully crafted things wash up on the shore. Down by the Thames, on some things that wash up you can see the fingerprints from the maker, or a makers mark which are 100s of years old. It has changed the way I make things and when I once would sand away my fingerprints from my own work, I no longer do. It has become a part of my weekly routine that is essential for my mental health and maintaining inspiration for my work.
I often find lots of litter on my larks and make sure to collect every single piece I find, of which there is a lot… making me think about the future of mudlarking if we carry on using the amount of plastic we do.
If you are in London then I recommend visiting the banks of the river when the tide is low, just for some peace and a step away from the busyness, but make sure you don’t walk too far away from any steps in case you get stranded!! https://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast-and-sea/tide-tables/2/113