Thames Log By Chloe Dewe Mathews

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Thames Log examines the ever-changing nature of our relationship to water, from ancient pagan festivities through to the rituals of modern life.

Dewe Mathews spent five years photographing up and down the River Thames, from it’s puddling source to great estuary mouth. She focuses her attention on lives that overlap regularly with the river but often go unnoticed, like ship-spotters, who log the continual stream of vessels that pass through Tilbury, and mudlarkers as they comb the city sludge for Roman and Saxon treasure. Above the tidal Thames, which transforms the landscape twice daily, the young river meanders constantly through the verdant countryside. There, she encounters neo-pagan rituals, eccentric coracle builders and the custodians of royal swans. Far from holding a fixed identity, the Thames becomes a protagonist in a series of ceremonies and practices that seamlessly flow downstream, from boat-burning in Oxford to evening prayer in Southend; from mass baptisms to teenage rites of passage.

Despite its status as one of the most iconic and well-documented rivers in the world, the images in Thames Log invite you to look beyond the river to consider both religious and secular rituals, and how meaning and identity are constructed through practices both big and small, private and public. The Thames becomes a source from which to dream, or imagine other places, other rivers – the Volga, the Congo, the Ganges, Venice lagoon, Arcadia; and for some, a final resting ground, as their ashes are scattered into its flow.