Site-Writing

Tideline (2010-2012)
  • Sarah Butler | Belvedere, London

  • Tideline 1 tideline-2 Tideline 3 Tideline 4 Tideline 5
  • Sarah Butler was writer-in-residence in Lower Belvedere throughout 2010. Her commission (from Bexley council, funded through the Heritage Lottery Scheme) was linked to a large regeneration scheme in the area, focused on infrastructure and public realm improvements. 

    Lower Belvedere, in the London Borough of Bexley, is a fascinating area, once a broad stretch of marshland, close to the Pleasure Gardens at Erith, it is now home to Crossness Sewage Works, a huge new rubbish incinerator, an industrial estate, and a tiny patch of precious marshland, some of which is designated a protected Nature Reserve.

    Sarah worked with volunteers, schools and groups to uncover hidden stories about the area, and from this rich source material crafted four new poems, using a Japanese form of poetry called Renga. The project culminated in 2012 with a public art work, walking routes across the marshes featuring Sarah’s writing and an exhibition that toured local libraries. All of this is captured in a beautiful project publication featuring photographic portraits by Eva Sajovic.


    Biography:

    Sarah Butler explores the relationship between writing and place through prose, poetry and participatory projects. Recent writing residencies include writer-in-residence on the Central line; at Great Ormond Street Hospital; and Stories From The Road – a project exploring personal stories of Oxford Road, Manchester. She has two novels published by Picador in the UK and with fourteen international publishers: Ten Things I’ve Learnt About Love and Before The Fire. In November 2018, I published a novella, Not Home, written in conversation with people living in unsupported temporary accommodation in Manchester. Her new novel, Jack and Bet, will be published by Picador in Spring 2020. 

    www.urbanwords.org.uk | www.sarahbutler.org.uk


    Practices:

    Tideline captures multiple stories and experiences of an undervalued space in east London. Using the Japanese poetry form, Renga, I wrote texts based on stories I was told, creating four multivocal, co-authored poems, which were installed along routes from Lower Belvedere to the Thames. The work looks to represent the rich history and personal stories no longer evident in the physical landscape, inserting text into the environment which invites the reader to imagine and understand different experiences of the space and to move through it in a quiet, reflective, attentive manner.


    Keywords:
    Poetry, landscape, stories, renga

    References:

    Book Of Days, Linda France, 2009 https://smokestack-books.co.uk/book.php?book=28 

    Westpark development, poetry installations by W.N. Herbert, 2004 http://www.urbanwords.org.uk/aplaceforwords/case-study-westpark.php 

    Chris Jones, River Don installation, 2007 http://www.urbanwords.org.uk/aplaceforwords/case-study-river-don.php 


    Other projects:
  • Parts Apart Read Together (2019)
  • What Remains (2019)
  • 21 Orientations: An Atlas of Geographic Promiscuity (2019)
  • The Windowless Hotel Room (2018)
  • Shared Remains (April 2018)
  • Soft Landing (2018)
  • Spaces of Grief (2018)
  • Metropolitan Salem, Liuerpul (9 June – 18 August 2018)
  • Things Come Apart (21-24 March 2018)
  • Learn to Read Differently (2018)
  • Il Balcone. A site-writing performance (2018)
  • History begins with the vanity of kings (2018)
  • Foray in a Modern Reserve: An Impounding Portrait of Landuse (2016-2018)
  • Dear Mr. Jung: Inhabiting Carl Jung’s ‘The Red Book’ (May 2018)
  • Phantom Railings (2012-17)
  • Talking Quilts (April 2017)
  • fifteen ways to cross the desert (2017)
  • Between Landscape and Confinement: Situating the Writings of Mary Wollstonecraft (2017)
  • A Ficto-Historical Theory of the London Underground (2017)
  • Urban Literacy (2013 / 2014 / 2016)
  • The Glorious Tomb to the Memory of Nothing (2016)
  • The Arrival’s Reader; A Visual Literary Criticism on The Arrival by Shaun Tan (2016)
  • Reading as Art (27 August-19 November 2016)
  • Kjemikerens død [The Death of the Chemist] (23-26 May 2016)
  • Kingsland High Street (2016)
  • Away from Home – Home from Away (April 2016)
  • Penguin Pool (2015)
  • Geography Lessons: Liberian Landmarks 1953-2013 (2015)
  • Women’s Anarchist Nuisance Café (2014)
  • The Writing on the Wall (after Rembrandt) (2014)
  • Designing Architecture as a Performing-Ground (2014)
  • The Disappearance: Manfredo Tafuri’s The Sphere and the Labyrinth (April 2013)
  • Folded Ground: Escape from Cape Town (2013)
  • In The Emptiness Between Them (2012)
  • 10/08/12 (multispecies event) (2012)
  • Tideline (2010-2012)
  • An Arcades Project (2011)
  • The Museum of Breath (2010)
  • Slab (2010)
  • One wound. Two wounds. The body as site for writing (2010)
  • The Fluid Pavement and Other Stories on Growing Old (2006)
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