In the Offing, the Sea and Sky were Welded
Location: The River Thames
Date: 2020-21
Supported by the Thames Festival Tust in conjunction with Uber boats by Thames Clippers as a part of Totally Thames and Tide Changers.

‘In the offing, the sea and sky were welded’ is a project that explores the notion of human transition using the River Thames as the focal point.

Through a series of Solargraphs, medium and large format images the project conveys this idea of transition capturing a variety of locations both peaceful and in a state of development, illustrating how both change and tranquillity can be found along the riverbank to serve as spaces for solace and hopefulness.

The River Thames is a vein through which life has coursed for as long as it has existed, A connecting passage between England and the wider world. This channel of water has been central to both threats of invasion and key to trade routes and still life spirals in an eternal state of flux around it. Surrounded by constant regeneration and industrialisation, the raw nature of the river reflects British perseverance, continuing to flow into the ocean as sure as the sun does rise and set. The Thames has offered a sense of familiarity and calm this past year, amidst the chaos and uncertainty it embodies a place of security, quelling any feelings of hopelessness and anxiety.

‘In the offing, the sea and sky were welded’
utilises the medium of Solargraphs as a means to illustrate this eternal unity between humankind and nature. In leaving pinhole cameras along the river that capture single images for weeks at a time and track the solar arc, the images created present a unique perspective of the Thames. The decontextualised and striking colours that are burnt into the photographs by the Sun's path create a visual representation of the passing of time and look to the future of how we harness and appreciate the Thames.

The title ‘In the offing, the sea and sky were welded’
is a quote taken from Joseph Conrad’s novel ‘Heart of Darkness' in which the narrator describes looking out to sea as they sail down the Thames. This fusion of the sea and sky which is occurring in the distant sea alludes to the connection between the elements. The waterways work in unison with the sky and the earth, together they adapt and grow. ‘The offing’ can now come to be understood as something happening in the immediate future. This is reflected in the project, through its presentation of redevelopment and of transition which is seen through the Solar arcs.

The project specifically explores a number of locations of significance and redevelopment along the Thames. These locations of importance and serenity such as the Source of the river stand in contrast to the bustling and growing locations such as Silvertown and yet the images produced still point to the elegant transformation of time that is occurring along the riverbank.

© Sonam Tobgyal