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A glimpse of Britain's industrial heritage

[THIS WEEK] The Wapping Project celebrates Britain’s industrial past, writes James Pallister

The Wapping Project, for those who haven’t had a chance to go, is the former home of the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. Before its closure in 1977, the station used to supply power to machinery across London. It was initially steam-powered, then converted to electric. In 2000, the listed building was reopened by Jules Wright as an art gallery and restaurant, a centre within Wapping’s raggle-taggle mix of former warehouses, light industrial units and gated apartment buildings. After 13 years, it will close, the 22 December being its last open day.

The type of people who live in the area has changed over the past 13 years, Wright told ArtINFO.com. She added: ‘The reason we’re going is because a lot of the things that we used to do on our grounds we can no longer do – we now have neighbours who don’t want us to do anything outside the door. But, that’s London, now.’ As well as the art, there’s a good, if pricey, restaurant, where you can eat among the remnants of the building’s former use: giant switchgear, turbines and transformers are still intact. The last show is a film version of Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea.

The Wapping Project has a gallery across the river in Bankside, which will continue. British-Iranian photographer and film director Mitra Tabrizian’s show, Leicestershire is currently on show there. Tabrizian’s large-format pictures are of tumbledown former factories (example below): hosiery and other manufacturing plants across Leicestershire. The project started out as a one-off commission for Loughborough University, but soon Tabrizian was hooked and the project grew. The large images of brick, concrete, weeds and chimneys are sometimes inhabited by single, still figures: the people who used to work in these places.

Exhibition

The Wapping Project, Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, Wapping Wall, London E1; Leicestershire: Photography by Mitra Trabizian, The Wapping Project Bankside, 65a Hopton Street, London SE1

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