Caught by the River

Paul Thompson: Navigate

12th March 2019

On display at Wren London between 21 March and 17 May 2019, Navigate is a series of pared-down photographs taken over a period of three years by British artist Paul Thompson, documenting the many and varied navigation markers dotted around the coastline of Britain.

Navigate #I, 2016

Brought up by the coast in the North East of England, Thompson had passed these navigational aids hundreds of times without paying them any attention. It was while working on other coastal photography projects that he finally noticed and became fascinated by these innocuous structures so vital to and protective of seafarers. As he sought them out, devoting days, if not weeks, to finding them by foot across the country, Thompson recognised the hidden ‘language’ these small and unexceptional markers convey. Glimpses of red, green, and sometimes yellow poles in the distance warn mariners of dangerous, concealed rocks and the ends of jetties; guiding vessels into harbours and instructing when to move port or starboard.

Navigate #IX, 2016

Navigate #VIII, 2016

Shot at sunset using a large format film camera with exposure times ranging between one and eight seconds, Thompson had little control over what happened within his image to shape the end result. This happenstance is vital to the work as Navigate becomes a series of chance events dictated by the constant and unpredictable motions of the sea, the wind, and the light.

Navigate #XI, 2016

Navigate #VI, 2016

More information about the gallery and exhibition is available here.