Beneath the pavement, the marshes 2024

Collaboration between Three Rivers Bexley and Crossness Nature Reserve

The image shows a group of people walking on a grassy path next to a construction site with large concrete buildings and cranes. The sky is cloudy with some light breaking through. The people are wearing casual outdoor clothing, suggesting a cool day.

Participating Artists & Collectives: Lemonot (Sabrina Morreale and Lorenzo Perri), Ailo Ribas (Al-Wa’hat Collective), Barney Pau, Pietro Consolandi, Maymana Arefin, RE-PEAT, Felix Taylor, Sarah White, Action Pyramid 

March - September 2024

Crossness Nature Reserve, Belvedere, DA17 6JY

Marshlands support diverse life forms, offer protection against extreme weather conditions  floods and droughts and serve as essential habitats for endangered species and migratory birds. Especially in the North of Bexley, they play a critical role in mitigating climate change, acting as efficient carbon sinks and improving water quality by filtering pollutants.

Beneath the pavement, the marshes is a two-year action-research programme delving into the cultural, ecological and political dynamics of Crossness and Erith Marshes.

Since the industrial developments in the Victorian era, the marshlands, vital for the Thames River's health and instrumental in facilitating flooding and nutrient distribution, have been exploited. The area became the dumping ground for London’s hidden infrastructure; from sewage works to rubbish incinerators and military facilities during the First and Second World Wars. Consequently, this vibrant ecosystem represents one of the most industrialised areas of the city today. 

In response, Beneath the pavement, the marshes was launched in 2023 to support community initiatives aimed at preserving the remains of these fragile ecosystems, creating a network of alliances and connecting local activists and environmental groups. This year, in collaboration with the Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve, we are directing resources and expertise towards safeguarding their landscape. threatened by a neighbouring industry's proposal to construct a Carbon Capture and Storage facility on the Reserve itself, which poses a significant threat to wildlife in the area and paradoxically will destroy a natural carbon sink. 

Together with the Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve we aim to foster solidarity among scientific, local-ecological and artistic knowledges, supporting the educational programme of the Reserve and creating a focal point to draw attention to the urgencies that this environment is facing.

Public Programme

The free public programme between July and September 2024 follows “Marshes Coalition”, a phase of consultation and research with the Friends of Crossness Nature Reserve. Beneath the pavement, the marshes will  engage a broader audience in gatherings, walks, workshops and events to learn about the importance of marshes beneath our feet.

20 July, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Walkshop exploring land rights with artists and researchers, Ailo Ribas (Al-Wa’hat Collective).

27 July, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Children's drawing workshop with the youth collective, RE-PEAT.

3 August, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Field recording workshop with sound artist and musician, Action Pyramid.

17 August, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Walkshop exploring the rights of marshlands with artist and writer, Pietro Consolandi.

24 August, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Children's drawing workshop with the youth collective, RE-PEAT.

31 August, 4:00 - 6:30pm: Plant storytelling walk with artist and community gardener, Maymana Arefin.

7 September, 5:00 - 8:00 pm: Communal feast with artist and forager, Barney Pau.

All of our events are free and open to everyone. Free registration via Eventbrite is required.