There is something in the water at Battersea Park. You might be forgiven for wondering what has gone wrong with the water in the ponds that lay adjacent to each other, one is a deep murky orange-brown and the other a toxic rainbow of colour, both are reminiscent of water that is infested with ribbons of algae. For the knowing visitor, like me, it becomes clear, quite quickly, that these are the latest work of artist Samara Scott.
Developer has been described by the artist and Pump House Gallery as “liquid painting”, biodegradable dyes have been poured into the water – green, blue, red, orange – and mixed to create shades that are visible in the ponds when you pass by. The algae-like strands are in fact pieces of silver material, and nets, that move around gently just beneath the surface, contributing to this idea of liquidity in painting. The dyes themselves are not just there to provide an unnatural shock of colour but are industrial elements that prevent the growth of algae so familiar in un-maintained areas of water and a nod to Battersea’s industrial past and a more gentrified future.
A short walk away, Battersea Power station is currently down to only one of its famous chimneys in a move from the industrial to the domicile. Battersea is experiencing a now familiar phase at the moment, one of exponential growth as developers seek to adapt and build upon what already exists in the area. The developer here is the algae that has been prevented growing, but you sense that the more prodigious property developers of London will not be so easily assuaged and that the fate of East London has expanded once more to the south west.
The site-specific elements of Developer, the immediate vicinity of the ponds, as left exposed to the elements will undoubtedly lead to some unexpected changes to the display. At this point – close to the middle of the exhibit – the pair are imbalanced but equally interesting, the colourful side more eye-catching, certainly more unnatural, and the murkier pond something that makes you consider the implications of industry on the natural environment. Regardless, this is very recognisable as a work from Scott, who oftens reflects on nature with unusual and difficult materials that have a mind of their own. From a purely aesthetical point of view it is at the very least impactful and for those taking a closer look at the research and development of the project it is perfectly timed.
Developer is on display until the 25th of September in the Battersea Pleasure Gardens, Pump House Gallery and runs alongside Sally Troughton’s current exhibition.
Amy E. Brown