Trading Words at London Dock is a major public art installation by artist Gordon Young, unveiled at an exciting new development in Wapping, close to St Katharine Docks, Tower Bridge and the City. Designed by architects Patel Taylor, London Dock will comprise 1,800 new homes and 200,000 sq ft of commercial floor space, set within 6 acres of open space, including a spectacular new public square centred upon a magnificent choreographed water feature.
The first part of the Trading Words installation will be officially unveiled on 22 February and accompanied by a pop–up exhibition which will run until 30 April, providing insights into the fascinating history and heritage of the site, as well as documenting the creation of the work – from design to installation. Commissioned by leading London property developer St George, Young, in conjunction with graphic designer Andy Altman of Why Not Associates, has designed a unique installation that invites the community to engage with the heritage of this historic gateway to London.
Derived from historic rates and tariff-books which list the goods imported and exported via London over the last 400 years, Trading Words is a floor-based typographic installation made of granite, integrated into the public realm through the buildings of London Dock. Young’s concept is inspired by Piet Mondrian’s graphic clarity and Umberto Eco’s The Infinity of Lists. The lists of words include such commodities as the more obvious ‘ale’ or ‘pickles’, as well as more peculiar goods such as ‘dragon’s blood’ which was a treatment for stomach bugs as well as a varnish for instruments; or ‘bear’s grease’ which was popular in the nineteenth century and widely believed to prevent hair loss, originally made from the fat of the brown bear.
Trading Words is the first work in London for Young who is renowned for his large-scale installations, including The Comedy Carpet in Blackpool. The artist specialises in creating public art works which become part of daily life and reflect his passion for literature and poetry.
Artist Gordon Young comments: ‘The lists and inventories of items, which had crossed the site over the past centuries, are so lengthy that they seem to stretch into infinity and beyond! They came into existence because every word had a value attached. Andy and I distilled the words into a confection which made us curious and think of them as a poetic representation of this immense tide of things from all over the globe which happened to accumulate in this spot in East London.’
Trading Words 22nd February – 30th April londondock.co.uk
About The Artist
Gordon Young is one of the UK’s leading artists in the field of public art. With over 20 years of experience he has created projects as diverse as a series of 20m sculptural/climbing walls in Blackpool, a forest of typographic trees in Crawley Library, a Wall of Wishes in a Bristol school, and a cursing stone in Carlisle.
Gordon’s latest and most ambitious project to date is the Comedy Carpet, an 2,200m² granite typographical pavement made up of jokes, songs and catchphrases of comedians and writers which will be permanently installed on the new promenade in front of Blackpool Tower.
Gordon has a collaborative approach to working and has built up over the years strong and fruitful relationships with a diverse range of people from architects, landscape architects, graphic designers and engineers to foresters, cyclists, librarians, climbers, ornithologists, historians and code breakers.
Public art is not only about ideas and concepts, it is also about delivering on time, in budget and of the highest quality. Gordon has a close and committed team of artists and producers and together they have a proven track record in realising ambitious projects of the highest quality within given timescales and budgets.