River Thames 4 – A Site Specific Sculpture

Audio described Touch Tour of THAMES 4 a wooden sculpture by Ros Burgin for blind and partially sighted visitors led by VocalEyes describer Alison Clarke. Ros Burgin will also join the touch tour and will host an informal Q and A session after the tour.

THAMES 4 is a tactile wooden sculpture by Ros Burgin depicting the 42 mile stretch of the River Thames from Teddington Lock in the west to The Thames Barrier in the East.

This is the fourth and latest piece in a series of work by Ros Burgin exploring the River Thames and its relationship to London. This site specific work has been created during a residency by the artist in a working boathouse on the wide Thames Path on the bank of The Thames at Richmond in association with master boat builder Mark Edwards MBE.

The touch tour is free and there is no need to book in advance. To join the touch tour, meet outside the boat house at 2pm.

When you enter the Boat House for the audio described touch tour the linear sculpture is on your right, stretching away from you. It is created from wood, all of it from the last remnants of boats which have spent the whole of their lives on the Thames. It stretches for 4 metres along the right-hand side of the boathouse and is mounted on a white board 5 metres long and 1.5 metres deep. The board stands on a long work bench. The top of the board is just above shoulder. The first point of contact is the river at the Thames Barrier and you will journey along the piece to follow the sinuous shape of the river as you move downstream, from East to West, until you arrive at Teddington Lock.

The construction of the piece is relevant to the subject and uses only methods traditional to wooden boat building; all joins are made using scarfe joints, a technique Ros was taught by Mark Edwards. Scarfe joints are held in place with nails and burs across the width of the wood, the ones used here are made of copper with rose heads method of making nails by hand which dates back to 800AD and came to Britain with the Vikings. As we journey along the river we also feel 16 small copper nails on the surface at the banks. These mark the points at which 16 tributary rivers enter this stretch of the Thames. Six of these rivers are visible and Ros has also marked on the surface of the artwork the 10 ‘lost’ London Rivers, which can no longer be seen.

The sculpture stands proud of the board on which it’s mounted. As well as the smooth top surface it’s possible to feel the back and experience the varying depth of the pieces of the found wood used in its construction.

The finished sculpture will be exhibited in the boathouse from Wednesday to Sunday every week during the month of September.

Ros will also be available to help visitors access the sculpture and to answer questions each Friday between 12noon and 6pm and on Saturdays and Sundays between 11am and 6pm for the duration of the exhibition.

Also in the boathouse during the exhibition of THAMES 4is London Boatyards: A Living History. This is a static display of 12 boards which stretches along the left hand wall of the boathouse. It is created by The Thames Festival Trust and depicts the location and tells the story of 11 boathouses and the people working in them. At the end is a looped video showing the boathouses at work and the people working in them talk directly to us of their experiences.

Thames 4 is supported using public funds by Arts Council England.

Do listen to the audio introduction below for more details about Thames 4 and the audio described touch tour.



Wherry Boathouse

Richmond RiversideRichmondTW9 1EH