Unit London is delighted to present Henry Hudson’s latest solo exhibition that meanders down London’s River Thames, tracing the pathways of the artist’s various walks during the lockdowns of recent years. Titled Shanti, the exhibition is held at 63 Broughton Road, Fulham, London, SW6 2LE, from 05 October until 26 October 2022. Viewing is by appointment only so please book here ahead of your visit.
Using photographs and sketches as starting points, Hudson’s newest body of work visualises the city’s iconic buildings as they are reflected on the river’s surface. From the Thames Barrier to Windsor Great Park, Shanti remembers an important time in the city’s history, marking the winding river as a place of sanctuary during difficult times both past and present.
The title of Hudson’s exhibition, Shanti, is drawn from the last three words of T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland: “Shantih Shantih Shantih.” The modernist poem explores life in London’s bustling metropolis during the aftermath of the First World War. Shanti, a Sanskrit word important in the Hindu faith, signifies a state of mental and spiritual inner peace, denoting an ability to keep strong in the face of external discord or stress. On a linguistic level, the artist connects this sense of inner peace to his subject, acknowledging the quiet presence of a pathway that links the river to a peaceful state of mind.
The works themselves, made of plaster, glue and pigment, replicate the geological layers of the riverbed. Hudson has long used plasticine in the conception of his artworks and, through this practice, he began to use plaster as an artistic medium for the first time. The material, able to morph from liquid to solid, echoes the fluidity of the river’s ebb and flow. Hudson’s methods for the exhibition are drawn from a process known as scagliola. A practice popularised in the 17th century and dormant in recent years, scagliola is a type of fine plaster that was used to resemble marble in the creation of pillars, flooring and ornate furniture. Hudson uses water and sand to wear away at areas of the plaster, carving into it using stones and Dremel tools. The artist even uses rocks from the banks of the River Thames to etch into the plaster’s surface before using beeswax as a buffer to give the artworks their distinctive sheen. Hudson has also worked on sheets of glass; its shining quality coupled with the marbling effect of the scagliola process suggests the rippling reflective surface of the river’s waters.
The titles of Hudson’s artworks each point to a specific latitude and longitude, marking a place along the riverbank. Each location indicates a point where Hudson paused his walks to take a photograph or make a sketch of his surroundings. The exhibition depicts Hudson’s private exploration of London, charting his own mindful journey during a time of global crisis. Equally, Shanti maps a route through London’s wider history. We wander from the Elizabethan construction of the Globe Theatre to the Neo-Classical architecture of Tate Britain to the industrial edifice of Battersea Power Station, winding through the city’s various landmarks that adorn the banks of the River Thames.
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