THE RIVER PROJECT / McIntosh Gallery & The Art Exchange, London ON /
Woodstock Art Gallery, Woodstock ON, 2008
19 London Artists Turn to the Thames River
"But I'm more interested in what you find in the river - in the whole idea of industrial footprints." KIRTLEY JARVIS
RESEARCH / ROBERT GREENE'S CONCRETE SAW EDGE ROADWAY
Situated in the Thames River, just behind Labatt Park and across from Harris Park are about 60 discarded saw-edged concrete blocks about two feet long. Depending on the depth of the river some or none of them are visible.
I was walking along the breakwater with Mike Baker, then Historical Curator at Museum London, when he said, "I think I know what those are." He dug up the page [upper right] from the Old Boys Reunion Souvenir from August 1923 which marked the beginning of The River Project for me.
The Saw Edge Roadway was originally on Mt. Pleasant Avenue (formerly Alexander St.) between Wilson Ave. and Wharncliffe Rd. It was broken up and dumped into the river at the foot of Mt. Pleasant.
I wanted to make a paper cast of the blocks right there in the riverbed. Water levels were just too unpredictable, so I decided to pull out a few of the 300 pound blocks and take them home. After several thwarted ideas and plans, Guy Plint, husband of Annemarie, one of the River Project artists came to the rescue. The Saw Edge Video shows how Guy, his son Trevor and Chris Smart accomplished it.
Chris Smart, Guy and Trevor Plint using a pry bar to loosen one of the Saw Edge pieces.
I researched London City Council archives from the early 1920s in the London Room at the Central Library and found several fascinating entries between 1921 and 1924 relating to Robert Greene's Saw Edge Roadway, including his proposal to the city, permission granted, agreement with the City and report on how it was weathering. Some of these minutes are stamped in ink onto my handmade paper that I cast on the Saw Edge pieces.
[see PAPER WORKS below]
SAW EDGE ROADWAY PATENT, embroidered linen,
52cm h x 42cm w x 4 cm d, 2008
SAW EDGE ROADWAY SITE MAP, embroidered linen,
52cm h x 42cm w x 4cm d, 2008
One of the people I consulted was archaeologist Dana Poulton who came to see the Saw Edge pieces in the river. This piece is a selection of sketches and notes he made during his visit, showing how to map out the blocks in the river
Back View showing buttons, a reference to the fact that the inventor of the Saw Edge Roadway, Robert Greene started Greene-Swift Ltd. in 1900, a manufacturer of men's clothing at 139 Carling St. in London ON.
A larger plant was built in 1906-7 at the corner of Talbot and Queens Ave., currently occupied by the Harrison Pensa Law Firm.
Cities Heating Co. Ltd. was started to sell excess heat from the exhaust steam from the clothing manufacturing. A large downtown business district was heated with this steam.
during the assembly
The red wire has 2 functions: securing the two layers of paper so they are about 3" apart, as well as underlining some of the text.
TURN TO THE RIVER / THE RIVER PROJECT / Group Exhibition, The Art Exchange, London ON /
May 5 - 24, 2008
INDUSTRIAL FOOTPRINT STUDY #1.
Ink on handmade flax paper, wire,
29cm h x 24cm w x 5cm d, 2008.
INDUSTRIAL FOOTPRINT STUDY #2,
Ink on handmade flax paper, wire, 29cm h x 24cm w x 5cm d, 2008. Collection: Rob Green
INDUSTRIAL FOOTPRINT STUDY #3.
Ink on handmade flax paper, wire, 29cm h x 24cm w x 5cm d, 2008. Collection: Bruce Monck
ROBERT GREENE'S SAW EDGE ROADWAY / BROKEN UP AND DISPOSED OF IN THE THAMES RIVER c. 1925
MAKING PAPER & PAPER CASTS of SAW EDGE CONCRETE with HELMUT BECKER
SAW EDGE #2 / Outdoor Installation at The McIntosh Gallery, UWO, 2008
SAW EDGE #2 / Final Installation at 11 Rogers Avenue, 2009
SAW EDGE #1 / INSTALLATION IN THE THAMES RIVER
SAW EDGE #1 / In the Thames River between Harris Park and Labatt Park/ Remnants of Robert Greene's discarded 1920s concrete Saw Edge Roadway, 30 linear metres, 2008
Chris Smart, Guy Plint and Ray Jackson
re-positioning Saw Edge pieces
On the day that we pulled the Saw Edge pieces out of the Thames River, I asked the crew to re-position some of the remaining blocks so that they were more prominent or on a different angle for a greater over-all sense of visual flow.
The concrete pieces that were set more up-right have become favourite perches for birds - ducks, geese and on this day, a heron.