Piped Poetry, 2007

Piped Poetry, 2007

Intervention and text-based work with pupils from Millbank Primary, commissioned by Futurecity

“Quiet and contemplative, witty, powerful and at times strange, ‘Piped Poetry’ is an engaging and imaginative work.

Through a series of poetry workshops and archaeological visits to the banks of the Thames, Bettina has developed a text based work with the school’s pupils. The resulting legacy of this commission is a series of thought-provoking text interventions sited throughout the school and a poem, ‘Murky Thames’, compiled from contributions from each of the children.

The building’s plumbing system has become a metaphor for a river. Stencilled by Bettina across washbasins, cisterns, Victorian pipework and water storage tanks, ‘Piped Poetry’ tells the story of water’s journey through nature and its use by man, as see through the eyes of schoolchildren. Accompanying the work is this exclusive limited edition of artist’s books, documenting the artwork through a series of photographs and a film.

Bettina has carefully selected sites in the school that are reflective of the meaning in each fragment of the poem. Some are difficult to find, others awkward to read, others bold and obvious. ‘People normally get wet’ shouts from a row of three sinks in the boys toilets, with ‘Splash hard’ on the cistern above the urinals. A curving pipe reads ‘Go on, surf the wave’, a cut-off pipe states ‘Lost to the world’. In the school’s basement, ‘Deep in the ocean are the secrets that I want to reveal desperately’, stretches in super-size font across the room’s ceiling.

This is a work that asks to be traced and explored. Like the course of a river across a landscape, it wends its journey through the building, at times going underground, at times bubbling to the surface demanding to be seen and at times quietly pooling in a corner, awaiting discovery.”

Claire Foster, Curator, Futurecity










Piped Poetry, photography by Lucy Levene, limited edition, Futurecity 2008