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The Wapping Project

It is over 13 years to the day since The Wapping Project opened at the Hydraulic Power Station on Wapping Wall, and 20 years since The Wapping Project first used the building for  Dirt a thrilling site specific performance by choreographer Lea Anderson, , commissioned by Jules Wright.

Since its inception the Power Station has become a special place of international pilgrimage admired for its beautiful and restrained transformation into a vibrant and elegant cultural hub.

When Jules Wright, founder and creative director of the Wapping Project first chanced upon the Hydraulic Power Station it was was derelict and on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk list.

Wright recalls: “It was the casual den for itinerant heroin users but nonetheless, it was one of the most exquisite buildings I had ever walked into and the area was exhilarating. We could see the river from our windows. The site was over an acre and there were no buildings surrounding us. Ally Capellino and Fake London, both leading fashion designers were opposite in a crumbling warehouse, Ian Ritchie Architects was around the corner, Nigel Coates Architects across the road and the warehouses were inhabited by painters, cabinet makers, sculptors and seamstresses. This was not just a building but a site as a canvas for artists from all disciplines and so it has been for a remarkable twenty years.”

Jules adds:” Things change however. The warehouses are now converted. We can no longer see the river. The site is built out. We can not hold our much loved summer film season in the garden and performances outside of the building are out of the question. Times really do change. As Wapping settles into a well behaved neighbourhood, closer in spirit to a Surrey village than an inner London borough, and the developers move in to complete the gentrification, the time has also come for us to move on. Our friend across the river, The Design Museum is moving west and our great friends and fellow cultural travellers from News International have now left. We do not wish to tiptoe about our business and in the end The Wapping Project is not a building but an artistic vision.”

The Lady from the Sea, the last exhibtion at the Power Station, signaled a farewell to the Power Station and celebrated the breadth of ambition which has marked out The Wapping Project’s last twenty years.

Moreover the closure of the Power station heralds a future in which The Wapping Project will continue to look forward with unrestrained ambition. 

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