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By David Rooney on

Dredging Up Memories

I was walking up Kingsway at the weekend, and was stopped in my tracks by the most striking sculpture I’ve seen in a long time:

'Square the Block', Richard Wilson, Kingsway (David Rooney)

Square the Block, by internationally-renowned sculptor Richard Wilson RA, is a five-storey addition to a chamfered corner of a London School of Economics building.

I must admit to being a huge fan of Wilson’s work. I first encountered it in 2004, when I visited the Saatchi collection at London’s County Hall. One exhibit was Wilson’s 20:50, a room full of sump oil, which I found enchanting.

Wilson is also responsible for an artwork that’s closer to (my) home. Slice of Reality is a section of ship planted on the beach off the Greenwich peninsula, near the O2 (what used to be the Millennium Dome).

'Slice of Reality', Richard Wilson, Greenwich (David Rooney)

To make the sculpture, Wilson bought an old sand-dredger called Arco Trent, built in Devon in 1971, and had it chopped up in a shipyard on the River Tees before fixing it to the Greenwich beach.

I met Wilson on board the ship a couple of years ago, when he opened it for London Open House (a weekend when buildings that are normally off-limits throw open their doors to the public). He told me it is a perfect site for drawing and thinking, and I must say the views from its sun-drenched superstructure were magnificent.

We’ve got a handful of dredger models on show at the Science Museum, including Prins der Nederlanden, built three years before Arco Trent:

Model of 'Prins der Nederlanden', 1968 (detail, David Rooney, March 2010)

Extra points for anyone who can find the other two (much older) model dredgers in the gallery…

3 comments on “Dredging Up Memories

  1. Next chance I get I will cycle over for a look at that dredger, is it on the south bank? East or West of Greenwich?

  2. Well worth a cycle-ride, Marcus. It’s on the south bank, just by the Millennium Dome, at the top of Greenwich Peninsula. See this link to Google Maps – you can just make out the sculpture between the two Blackwall tunnel lines (the little pink thing). PS while you’re there, also see Anthony Gormley’s ‘Quantum Cloud’ sculpture, further east, next to the Thames Clippers pier. It’s terrific. DJR.,-4.042969&sspn=14.970082,46.450195&ie=UTF8&hq=&hnear=Greenwich,+Greater+London,+United+Kingdom&ll=51.504141,0.001298&spn=0.00404,0.01134&t=h&z=17

  3. David – great to meet you, and thanks for this blog on Richard’s work – your photo is the best taken yet – can we use it?
    all best

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