IF, LIKE British artist Liz West, you too have missed your “dose of culture and exploration” after a year in lockdown, look to Greenwich Peninsula’s 700 metre walkway, The Tide, to whet your artistic appetite.
The Tide organically emerges and swerves along the Peninsula (a development designed by Knight Dragon), nestled between public art and community gardens, all the while facing the slapping shores of the River Thames.
West’s installation Hundreds and Thousands, frames the walkway, guiding you along a multicoloured, dynamic path. The installation lies along the glass balustrades made up of jewel coloured, elongated triangles — a garish crown resting atop the raised park, co-designed by Diller Scofido and Renfro of Manhattan’s High Line fame.
The repeated pattern and colour feeds the viewer with energy and rhythm, complimenting the nearby waters giving West’s work a sense of belonging — a community focused quality we are all in desperate need of.
West’s kaleidoscopic rush of colour is a welcome relief after the drab year we’ve muddled our way through. Hundreds and Thousands marks a positive return to life, “I am most hopeful for interaction and engagement between people and spaces.” For some, West’s use of bold colours may feel reminiscent of the NHS rainbow, or of a stain glassed window, but for West her palette “pays homage to the sensory luminescence and visual giddiness of the coloured sugar strands we were all familiar with as children.”
Even as a child, West’s “sensory capacity” was on high alert, “I recall enjoying driving down roads canopied with rich green summer leaves creating dappled sunlight on the asphalt. I loved the early morning glimmers of the rising sun reflecting onto the North Sea whilst having a pre-breakfast swim.”
Alongside nature, West also turned to exhibitions for her sensory hit, accompanied by her artist parents, “all these memories had one thing in common: the use of colour and light together.” West further explored this relationship whilst studying at the Glasgow School of Art, particularly influenced by artist, educator, printmaker and poet, Josef Albers —“Albers’ work led me to focus on the interaction of colours as well as creating careful compositions and spatial balance.”
West’s fascination with light and colour is not solely reserved for academic study, rather directly drawn from personal experience, “this is a subject that is at my very core as I have Seasonal Affective Disorder – my research focuses on my own wellbeing as well as that of others.”
Hundreds and Thousands is sure to boost and uplift your mood, taking on new meanings throughout the day — “the Tide’s geography and proximity to the Greenwich meridian line” is the embodiment of a sundial, natures answer to a ticking clock.
Time has at once felt both stretched and brief over the past year, giving us all an opportunity to pause and contemplate. For West that meant hoping “to see the art world become more inclusive instead of focusing disproportionate attention and money on a small clutch of artists. I would also like to see more spaces become available and affordable for artists to test and play in – that is so important at any stage of an artists career.”
In times of crisis, the art world feels most urgent and yet it is often hardest hit. Kaia Charles, Greenwich Peninsula’s Culture Project Manager, has ensured this isn’t the case, offering us a rich range of art to enjoy for free, including works by Damien Hirst, Allen Jones, Gary Hume and Antony Gormley. Charles is dedicated to “the importance of accessible art and culture in bringing Londoners back together safely.”
With recreational activities opening up and restrictions easing, there seems no better place than The Tide to enjoy a stroll amongst nature, people and of course art.
by Charlie Newman
Liz West Hundreds and Thousands is on until May 31, 2021
Free public access
The Tide at Greenwich Peninsula (a 2-minute walk from North Greenwich station) for more information, please visit this link