Abigail Downer


Thames Tide Turn
The dynamics of the flow and continuous changes of current preoccupy Abigail Downer’s creative process: Interpreting the weight and movement of tidal water as it is channelled through the Pool of London, Abigail is inspired to work with and against time to hold moments of change in a series of spatial print images.

“As a sculptor I have a visceral response to the reality of mass, volume and weight – tectonic form – grounded, cantilevered, suspended – understanding where the centre of gravity lies is second nature to me. Observing the movement of the river currents through the Pool of London unsettles my certainty about the weight and measure of material matter. I am reminded to acknowledge the fluid, dense weight of the water as I attempt to read the dynamic swell, heave, shift and whirl of a turning current. There is a desire to capture fleeting moments of time and tide”.

A series of collograph prints, 4 groups of 9, distil current moments of a Spring tide on 22nd January 2019 at London Bridge between 2.15 pm and 2.45 pm.

“The process of cutting a shape of movement while making the plate, reflected my desire to fix a moment in time. The fluidity of the ink and the mixing of colour as I inked up a plate, reminded me of reflected light on the surface of the water and the shadowed depths beneath. The embossed image attempts to solidify a moment in time and space and yet the image is still on the move!”


A Thames/working Narrative from January 2019 to August 2019.

Thames seen –

22/1/2019 between 2.15 and 2.45pm at London Bridge
Thames photographed

Assessing the current moments
Photographs selected
Planning a number of images
Overdrawing of photographs
Drawing multiples – each a current moment
Planning 4 x 9 prints
Full-size tracings
Plate making – card cutting
Plate making – card gluing
Plate making – varnishing
Three coats. Both sides.
Paper selection
Ink selection
Colour crayon explorations
At a small scale
At a big scale
Choosing which plates to test

Assessing the current moment
Testing the colour palette
Using newsprint and a roller
Adjusting the colour choices

Assessing the current moment
Reviving the inks

Soaking the paper

Setting the press

Inking the plates

Assessing the current moment

Turning the wheel – rolling through the press

Holding one’s breath

Assessing the printed moment.

How many tides have been and gone since that Spring tide?






work in progress – Thames Narrative – July 2019.




Related works

Slip Stream, Wood Form installation 2016


Flux series 2015/2016 from the InSitu installation at the Institute of Education, UCL, London.



Photo credits: Abigail Downer and Bob Wills