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Museum of water


Live artwork by Amy Sharrocks

6 – 29 June 2014
Daily 10.00 – 18.00 (last entry 17.30)

Lightwells and Deadhouse, Somerset House South Wing
Free admission


What water will you keep?

A melted snowman. Droplets from a baby's bath. Sacred draughts from an Indian river. Just some of the items donated to London's newest museum.

In the atmospheric underground spaces of Somerset House, Amy Sharrocks invites you to consider our relationship with the most precious liquid the world has to offer.

As rainforests disappear and climate change turns fertile land into deserts, access to fresh water will be one of the key issues of the coming decades. Sharrocks invites you to browse the museum's collection and add to it yourself.



The university's Culture team is delighted to be working in partnership with Somerset House, Artsadmin and LIFT to produce a series of events, installations, talks and screenings that will respond to and contextualize Amy Sharrocks' Museum of Water.

Events will run 6 – 29 June on various dates (see below), and on Midsummer Day (Saturday 21 June) a range of artists and academics will offer a full programme of drop-in activity for all ages: Midsummer Water Day.



'Roman' Bath

Friday 6 – Sunday 29 June, guided tours at 11.30, 12.45 and 14.00 daily
5 Strand Lane, London WC2R 2NA

Usually open by special arrangement only, the National Trust's 'Roman' Bath, on the King's College London Strand Campus, will be open to the public every day during the run of Museum of Water. Groups will be led daily at 11.30, 12.45 and 14.00 from the Museum of Water exhibition, for a short tour (approx 20 minutes). The Roman Bath, 5 Strand Lane is a spring-fed brick cistern under the back-building of No.33 Surrey Street. Reputed since the 1830s to be a Roman relic, it was in fact originally the cistern for an early seventeenth-century fountain in Somerset House, and was converted for use as a cold bath, after 150 years of neglect, in the 1770s. Its cold waters killed the MP and sculpture-collector William Weddell in 1792, and refreshed the young David in Ch. 35 of David Copperfield (1850).


Free Family Workshop: River Deep

Saturday 7 June, 12.00 – 15.00
Somerset House West Wing, London WC2R 1LA

Free admission

Join us for a 3-D modelling workshop creating sea creatures inspired by the watery sculptures around Somerset House.


Ritual and Religion on the River Thames (Nathalie Cohen)

Monday 9 June, 13.00 – 13.45
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

When the tide is out, the Thames is the longest open-air archaeological site in London, and much of the foreshore is freely accessible to the public. However, many of the exposed archaeological sites are often unrecognised and unprotected, and almost all are vulnerable to the twice-daily scouring of the tidal river, and thus require close monitoring. The Thames Discovery Programme aims to communicate an understanding and informed enjoyment of the historic Thames to the widest possible audience.

Over the last 15 years Nathalie has worked on a number of different archaeological projects both at home and in Israel, the Czech Republic and Romania. Nathalie is an Honorary Research Associate at UCL, the Cathedral Archaeologist at Southwark Cathedral and also works for the Thames Discovery Programme and for the National Trust as the regional Archaeologist for Kent and East Sussex.

Ikon Slow Boat talk (Jonathan Watkins and Kate Self)

Monday 16 June, 13.00 – 13.45
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

For three years Ikon led Slow Boat, involving a group of young people from the West Midlands and a converted canal boat. Slow Boat offered different young people each year the opportunity to collaborate with artists and other youth arts groups, to develop their own creative work, and engage with the business of arts management (through Ikon) to produce, market and present their own exhibitions and events. The boat was as much a workshop as it was a mobile arts venue.  

Jonathan Watkins has been Director of Ikon Gallery since 1999. Previously he worked for a number of years in London, as Curator of the Serpentine Gallery (1995-1997) and Director of Chisenhale Gallery (1990-1995). Kate Self has been Learning Co-ordinator since 2010, she has led on the development and delivery of the Ikon Youth Programme (known as IYP) and most recently has managed the Slow Boat programme. 


Water and the evolution of the human diet (Professor Stanley Ulijaszek)

Tuesday 17 June, 13.00 – 13.45
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

Water is in many ways taken for granted in everyday life, but is fundamental to what we are and who we are. From population expansions out of Africa to the present-day, water has shaped migration and settlement patterns, foraging practices and behaviours, and food security both globally and locally. Water is embedded in human metabolism and in the structure of food. It is vital for food production and consumption. This talk will describe the many ways in which water is implicated in the human diet: if we are what we eat, what we eat and how we eat is shaped by water. You are welcome to bring your lunch!

Professor Stanley Ulijaszek is a nutritional anthropologist and Director of the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford.


Amy Sharrocks in Conversation

Wednesday 18 June, 19.00 – 20.30
The Screening Room, Somerset House South Wing, London WC2R 1LA

Artist Amy Sharrocks talks to Lucy Neal and discusses her unusual relationship with water. Covering not only the current Museum of Water exhibition, they will discuss all Amy's water-related works including well-known projects such as SWIM, drift and Swim the Thames.



Midsummer Water Day

Saturday 21 June, 12.00 – 18.00
Various spaces

Free admission

Celebrate Midsummers' Day with this very special afternoon of talks, events, installations, screenings, family workshops and singing. Across a range of spaces in both King's College London and Somerset House, this is an opportunity to visit the Museum of Water, and then hear more from artists and academics who create work that relates to water, who can offer an insight into the politics and history of water, and who can get you and your family experimenting, playing and reflecting on water.

Events will run from 12-6pm, and there's no need to book. Just come along, and we'll provide maps for you to create your own watery voyage of discovery.


The Drain Brain (Sir Peter Bazalgette)

Monday 23 June at 18.30

Edmond J Safra Lecture Theatre, Strand Campus, London WC2R 2LS

Great-great-grandson of Victorian civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette, will talk about his ancestor's achievements, and share images and objects with the audience, followed by a Q&A session. Chair of Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette is a British television producer who helped to create the independent TV production sector in the United Kingdom, and went on to be the leading creative figure in the global TV company Endemol, producing hit television shows such as Big Brother.


Thames Baths Project: Re-introducing swimming in the Thames (Chris Romer-Lee)

Tuesday 24 June, 13.00 – 13.45
Inigo Rooms, Somerset House East Wing, London WC2R 2LS

The Thames Baths Project is about re-claiming the capital’s largest public space for Londoners. The proposals look to re-establish an intimate and playful link between Londoners and this historic lifeblood of the city. Imagine swimming in the River Thames, surrounded by reeds that frame tantalising views of the city around you. The Thames Baths are not just for swimmers, but provide refuge and habitat for fish, birds and a wide range of flora. This is the river like you’ve never seen it before.

Chris Romer-Lee is co-founder and director of award winning London architects Studio Octopi. The practice was established in 2003 and has completed a number of significant commissions including, the refurbishment of a 1000 seat amphitheatre in Berkshire and the largest artists residency in London. Chris has lived in London all his life, so the Thames Baths Project has a particular personal resonance.


Screening: SWIM

Tuesday 24 June, 19.00 – 20.00
Screening Room, Somerset House South Wing, London WC2R 1LA

"Someone called it a flesh mobbing. Others commented on its 'cosmic oddness'. Others called it life-changing and wrote poetry. SWIM was a live piece that you really had to be a part of. But we have tried to make a film of it."

- Amy Sharrocks

On 12 July 2007, 50 people donned their swimming costumes and swam across London. Opening up the various lakes, private and public pools of the city they swam a South-to-North journey between Tooting Bec Lido and Hampstead Heath - with a Routemaster bus for all the dry land in between.

To coincide with Amy's Museum of Water in the Deadhouse at Somerset House, the documented events of SWIM are being shown for the first time on film, revealing insights into this ambitious participatory project.


Food, water via land and climate: the interconnectedness of all things (Professor Tim Benton)

Thursday 26 June, 18.00 – 19.30
Screening Room, Somerset House South Wing, London WC2R 1LA

Douglas Adams' fictional detective, Dirk Gently, managed a 'Holistic Detective Agency' because '..."holistic" refers to my conviction that what we are concerned with here is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.' This truth is increasingly recognised in the inter-relationship between the food and water sectors, which both are affected by (and perhaps compete for) management of land, and are both impinged upon by climate change. Both are internationally traded, certainly water embedded within products we consume, and this trade affects local conditions and decision making. In this talk, Benton will outline some of the broad-brush issues and highlight some of the connections between water and food systems: where competition leads to trade-offs, where there may be synergies and where pressures on both are similar and require similar actions. This is a story of systems under pressure, facing increasing variability from external forcing: what does the future hold?

Prof Tim Benton BA, Oxford, PhD 1990, Cambridge, FSB, FLS. Professor of Population Ecology and UK Champion for Global Food Security coordinating work across this area between research councils and government departments.



Museum of Water is commissioned by Artsadmin in partnership with LIFT, Somerset House and the Canal & River Trust and supported by the university's Culture team. A Create to Connect commission and Imagine 2020 project, with the support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Originally commissioned by Artakt and LSHTM.



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