Location (see map): The River Stour, Canterbury, England
Depth: 1.5m to 80cm (depending on rainfall)
Installation Date: 2008
Alluvia, set in the historic city of Canterbury in Kent, is a sculpture consisting of two female figures, cast in cement and recycled glass resin. Viewable from the Westgate Bridge, the underwater sculptures lie along the river flow, submerged and fixed to the bed of the River Stour. At night the works are internally illuminated.
The title Alluvia relates to the alluvial deposits of sand left by the rise and fall of the river’s water levels. The accumulated algae on the surface of the sculptures acts as an environmental barometer as it is an indicator of pollution within the county’s waterways from chemicals and phosphates used in modern agricultural farming.
The work draws reference to Sir John Everett Millais’s celebrated painting Ophelia (1851-1852). The figures lie tranquilly on the riverbed, their arms outstretched, their feet crossed. The materials used respond to the flow of water along the river and to the refracted colours of its fauna and substrate. In sunlight they shimmer, in darkness they glow.
The two contrasting figures are essentially made from silica which is the main component of both cement and recycled glass, but in differing forms and material states,. As the surface tension and volume of water changes through the seasons, and the effects of light alter through the day, so what is seen of the sculptures changes. This fluctuation questions the stability of a material perceived to have permanence, and further challenges the recourse of memory, questioning how images and ideas constructed from fragments are presented.
The work encourages people to return to the site as each visit produces a different experience.
View Exploring the Underwater World Through Sculpture here.
Authorised by: Canterbury City Council
Materials: Cement, glass resin, recycled glass
Size: Two x life size female forms