The Wapping Project: art and food
A convererted hydraulic power station offering food and culture in East London
On the mediaeval cobbled streets by the River Thames as it flows East lies the Wapping Project, a converted power station that boasts a unique combination of culture and food.
Complementing the artwork on show is Wapping Food, an award-winning restaurant serving a daily changing menu and an all-Australian wine list. While many cultural sites, like museums and public galleries, have a café alongside the artwork, the restaurant at Wapping is much more than an add-on for weary gallery-goers. As the space receives no government funding and was converted without any lottery (i.e. state) money, the restaurant plays a crucial role in raising revenue to support the gallery.
Symbiotic relatishiop between gallery and restaurant
Having a quality restaurant on board also significantly increases the audience and footfall at the gallery space, giving visitors coming for dinner a chance to experience artwork they may not encounter otherwise. Presumably this is part of the attraction for diners who eat there as well- the opportunity to be surprised and intrigued by the art on offer.
Meanwhile art-lovers visiting the gallery can have the opportunity to eat lunch in the impressive setting of the hall, with its high ceilings and post-industrial architecture recalling that other cultural institution housed in a former power station on the banks of the Thames- Tate Modern.
Much of the work is specially commissioned, allowing artists the opportunity to respond to the historic setting and to the post-industrial nature of the East Thames.
Moving Walls- video installation
Currently on show is Moving Walls, a multi-screen film installation by renowned Polish filmmaker, artist, writer and poet Lech Majewski, which is made up of works which have been shown in other venues- including the Venice Biennale- but are installed in a unique combination in the power station's old Boiler Room. This is the artists’ first solo show in London, despite having an impressive track record which includes screenings at the Berlinale, Louvre and Whitechapel gallery and a recent solo show at New York’s MoMa.
Inspired by Breugel
Moving Walls weaves together elements from four different pieces, including the Bruegel Suite, inspired by the Pieter Bruegel’s 1564 painting Way to Cavalry, and Blood of a Poet, which focuses on young poet struggling to find his voice in the world.
New technology, historical paintings
Intentionally projected directly onto the weathered, textured stone walls of the power station, the videos become sumptous moving frescos combining cutting edge CGI and 3D techniques with animation and cinematography, reviving historical themes for a contemporary audience. The use of new image-making technologies to reanimate paintings familiar from art history books is one of the show’s most intriguing aspects, inviting the viewer to reconsider their relevance to today's culture.
Future events at the Wapping Project
With an impressive line-up of future events at the Wapping Project, including a film and sound installation, SeaWomen, by Mikhail Karikis in May, a trip down to Wapping for art, coffee and dinner is definitely advised.