Commissions

The Wapping Project Commissions enables artists to produce new works with unrestrained ambition. We launched in 2016 with aim to provide artists with funding and support to make new artworks. The Wapping Project is about freedom to create with as few constraints as possible.

Our writing commissions are funded through the generosity of The Wapping Project’s members.

Edges, Frames and Edits by Lea Anderson

Edges, Frames and Edits by Lea Anderson. Design: Atelier Dyakova.
Edges, Frames and Edits by Lea Anderson. Design: Atelier Dyakova.

A new writing commission by choreographer Lea Anderson on How to View Feature Film as Dance Performance


Lea Anderson is a director and choreographer born and based in London who has been making movement-based work since 1984. Lea trained at Central St Martin’s and Trinity Laban and received an honorary doctorate from Darting College of Arts in 2006. Lea is the founder and artistic director of The Cholmondeleys & The Featherstonehaughs dance companies, based in Bristol. Lea was awarded an MBE for services to dance in 2002. Lea was Regents Professor at UCLA in 2014, and is currently artist in residence at the Southbank Centre, London. Lea’s recent work includes Step by Step (2017), a commission by the British Council to create a large-scale, site-specific work on a pre-Incan burial site in Lima, Hand In Glove (2016) – a performed exhibition, at The V&A museum London and touring theatre production Ladies & Gentlemen (2017).

To Step Across the Line by Kapka Kassabova

To Step Across the Line by Kapka Kassabova. Design: Atelier Dyakova.
To Step Across the Line by Kapka Kassabova. Design: Atelier Dyakova.

A new piece by Kapka Kassabova in repose to the theme of borders.


Kapka Kassabova is the author of Border: a Journey to the Edge of Europe (Granta 2017), Twelve Minutes of Love – a tango story (2011), and Street Without a Name (2008). Raised in Sofia, Bulgaria, she was educated in New Zealand and now lives in the Scottish Highlands.

Making Her Mark by Mairéad McClean

Making Her Mark uses the poetics of performance to explore the concept of borders from multiple view points: from actual borders crossed, to imagined borders being constructed, to borders torn down, to new ones being drawn. Who draws the border? What is considered when it is being drawn? How are physical borders experienced? Mairéad is creating a space for imagining; imagining what it feels like to close down or confine movement, to be small in a land of the giants, to be a giant in the land of the small: what it feels like to cross over, to go through, to change, to be cut off: what it feels like to witness something dissolve or disappear, to feel what it’s like to come under attack.

Carrying the burden of creativity is literally and figuratively explored through a series of filmed sequences.

Making Her Mark, a film and sound installation, is being produced with the support from Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, North Uist, Outer Hebrides, and its first iteration will be shown there in the summer 2018.


Mairéad McClean was born and grew up in Beragh, Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland and has lived and worked for the past 25 years in London. She completed a Post Graduate in Fine Art at the Slade School of Art. She is an award-winning filmmaker who has produced work around the themes of memory, identity and migration. Her recent piece No More, won the inaugural MAC International Art Prize in 2014 and was acquired for the National Collection at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, through the Hennessy Art Fund. The work was exhibited at the Museum till November 2017.

Passage Publication

The Wapping Project has always been a rite of passage — from commissioned artists to chefs who worked at Wapping Food in the days at the Wapping Hydraulic Power Station. Nobody who has made the journey of working with us in any capacity could claim being unchanged by the experience.

The Wapping Project is never static; it avoided solidifying into something that can be easily defined.

Conversion
Evolution
Fluidity
Flux
Mutability
/ Passage /
Recasting
Transfiguration
Transformation
Transience
Transit
Transition

All these dynamic nouns define our state and ethos.

We are obsessed with journeys.

Expedition
Exploration
Flight
Journey
Migration
Move
/ Passage /
Pilgrimage
Pursuit
Quest
Wander
Transit
Travel
Traverse
Venture
Voyage

We commissioned and produced many works over the years inspired by the dynamics of being, journeys and transformations including Passage, 2013, and Passages, 1996.

We are returning to these themes in this volume of new writing at the time of tectonic political shifts. In the aftermath of the European Union membership referendum last year, the whole of the UK, its residents and citizens, are in the state of passage. We are on a journey drifting away. The English Channel (or La Manche as the French call it) somehow managed to stretch and is continuing to expand. Will the Channel Tunnel — the narrow submarine passage providing the only physical link with the continent — keep up with the expansive motion of water and politics above?

We are bringing to you three pieces of poetry responding to the theme passage — Agnieszka Studzinska’s passage, Alia Syed’s Eating Grass and Heather Phillipson’s everything SLAPPED and CANDIED and OPENING. We are also sharing with you our latest international event series — Kitchen Conversations — that take place from San Francisco through London to Berlin.

A text and image work by Shona Illingworth — Topologies of Air — produced in collaboration with law professor and barrister specialising in international law and human rights Nick Grief and Andrew Hoskins, Interdisciplinary Research Professor in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow, completes the volume. This multilayered contribution is a prelude to Shona’s major new art commission she is embarking on with us.


Agnieszka Studzinska has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. Her debut collection, Snow Calling was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection What Things Are was published by Eyewear Publishing in 2014. She is currently working on her third collection — The Branches of a House, as well as a PhD at Royal Holloway. Her PhD explores the poet’s relationship to the image and notion of home in poetry. Studzinska is collaborating with poet George Szirtes on an anthology of contemporary poetry focusing on the ideas of home — The Poetics of Home.

Alia Syed is an artist filmmaker. Her recent works combine her interest in storytelling with a compelling presentation of history as visual narrative. Her unique approach sutures different subject positions in relation to culture, diaspora and location. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Jarman Award and her latest film On a wing and a prayer was shown at the 2016 London Film Festival. Syed’s films have been shown at numerous institutions around the world including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012-13); 5th Moscow Biennale (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010).

Heather Phillipson works across video, sculpture, music, drawing and poetry. Her forthcoming projects include the Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, in 2020, a new online commission for Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, a sculptural commission for Art on the Underground and a major solo show at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, all in 2018. Phillipson is also an award-winning poet and has published three volumes of poetry. She was named a Next Generation Poet in 2014, received Poetry magazine’s Friends of Literature prize in 2016, and writes a regular column for ArtReview magazine. She received the Film London Jarman Award in 2016.

Shona Illingworth works across video, sound, photography and drawing. She is known for her immersive video and multi-channel sound installations, and evocative, research led practice in which she explores the dynamic processes of memory, cultural erasure and construction of histories in situations of social tension and trauma. Her work has been exhibited internationally, with shows at the Imperial War Museum, London, Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, FACT, Liverpool, UNSW Galleries, Sydney and the Wellcome Collection, London. Upcoming exhibitions include The Power Plant, Toronto, in 2020 and a book on her recent work will be published in 2019.

Nick Grief is a professor in Kent Law School and a barrister practising from Doughty Street Chambers. He specialises in international law and human rights. He graduated with a PhD on public international law in the airspace of the high seas from the University of Kent, where he currently teaches. He was a member of the legal team which recently represented the Marshall Islands in the International Court of Justice in cases against India, Pakistan and the UK concerning the obligation to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament. The team was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in the ICJ.

Andrew Hoskins is Interdisciplinary Research Professor in the College of Social Sciences at the University of Glasgow. His research connects multiple aspects of emergent digital society: media, memory, conflict, risk, security, and privacy. His latest book (with John Tulloch) is: Risk and Hyperconnectivity: Media and Memories of Neoliberalism (2016). He is founding Editor-in-Chief of the Sage journal of Memory Studies. His AHRC Research Leadership Fellowship with the British Army’s Historical Branch in Whitehall and The National Archives exposed the impact of cultural, technological, economic, and policy change on organisations, archivists, and records, and on the history of warfare (archivesofwar.com).

Eating Grass by Alia Syed

Five poetic stories by artist Alia Syed relating to the times of day allocated for Muslim prayer.

The title is a reference to a quote, made by president Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto of Pakistan, who in response to India’s exploding of a nuclear device in the early 1970s, promised the Pakistani people that they too would have their own nuclear weapon at all cost, even if it meant “eating grass”.


Alia Syed is an artist filmmaker born in 1964 in Swansea, Wales. Syed lives between London and Glasgow. Syed has been making experimental films for over 25 years.

Syed’s recent works combine her interest in storytelling with a compelling presentation of history as visual narrative. Her unique approach sutures different subject positions in relation to culture, diaspora and location. She was shortlisted for the 2015 Jarman Award and her latest film On a wing and a prayer was shown at the 2016 London Film Festival.

Syed’s films have been shown at numerous institutions around the world including Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2012-13); 5th Moscow Biennale (2013); Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010); Museo National Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2009); XV Sydney Biennale (2006); Hayward Gallery, London (2005); Tate Britain, London (2003); and Glasgow Museum of Modern Art (2002). She has also held several solo exhibitions at Talwar Gallery in New York and New Delhi.

Topologies of Air by Shona Illingworth

Shona Illingworth, Topologies of Air, Blueprint series: 2 (detail),  2013. Supported by a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsbhagh Museum and Arts Centre in 2012.
Shona Illingworth, Topologies of Air, Blueprint series: 2 (detail), 2013. Supported by a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsbhagh Museum and Arts Centre in 2012.

Topologies of Air, a major new art commission by artist Shona Illingworth, will examine the impact of geopolitical, technological and climate change on airspace and will challenge the narrow terms by which it is currently represented and defined in law. Working with collaborator Professor Nick Grief (University of Kent) an expert in human rights, the legal status of nuclear weapons and air and space law, the project will explore the ecological, cultural, social, legal, military and historical perception and definition of airspace and propose the establishment of a new human right to protect the freedom to exist without physical or psychological threat from above.

Topologies of Air will bring into dialogue representations from wide and diverse areas of expertise such as international law, including air and space law; human rights; earth and life sciences; technology; neuropsychology; cognitive neuroscience; cultural studies; sociology; art; architecture; politics; theology; philosophy; environmental studies and economics, with lived experience and NGOs, in a unique integration between art practice and the legal preparation for the creation of a new human right. Within a rapidly changing world, this major new commission will present a dynamic and challenging series of artworks, alive to the complex and changing parameters and contexts involved in making the case for this new and vital human right.

Early research for Topologies of Air was undertaken by Illingworth on a SeaChange residency at Taigh Chearsabhagh Museum and Arts Centre, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, in 2012.


Shona Illingworth is a Danish Scottish artist who works across a range of media including video, sound, photography and drawing. She is known for her immersive video and multi-channel sound installations, and evocative, research-led practice in which she explores the dynamic processes of memory, cultural erasure and construction of histories in situations of social tension and trauma. Her work has been exhibited internationally, with shows at the Imperial War Museum, London, Museum of Modern Art, Bologna, FACT, Liverpool, UNSW Galleries, Sydney and the Wellcome Collection, London. She has received high profile commissions from Film and Video Umbrella, the Hayward Gallery, London, and Channel 4 Television. Upcoming exhibitions include The Power Plant, Toronto, in 2020 and a book on her recent work will be published in 2019.


Nick Grief is a professor in Kent Law School and a barrister practising from Doughty Street Chambers. He specialises in international law and human rights. A Kent graduate with a PhD on public international law in the airspace of the high seas, he taught at the University of Exeter and Bournemouth University before returning to the University of Kent in 2010. He was a member of the legal team which recently represented the Marshall Islands in the International Court of Justice in cases against India, Pakistan and the UK concerning the obligation to negotiate in good faith towards nuclear disarmament. The team was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for its work in the ICJ.

Passage by Agnieszka Studzinska

A new piece by Polish born writer Agnieszka Studzinska for The Wapping Project Commissions, November 2016


Agnieszka Studzinska has an MA in Creative Writing from the UEA. Her first debut collection, Snow Calling was shortlisted for the London New Poetry Award 2010. Her second collection, What Things Are is published by Eyewear (2014). She is currently working on her third collection of poetry as well as her PhD at Royal Holloway; ‘The house a shelter for imaginings” – The Poetics of Literary Home-Making in Poetry: Home in Poetry and Poetry as Home.

Erase & Forget by Andrea Luka Zimmerman

ERASE AND FORGET – A Feature Documentary

The Wapping Project is supporting Andrea Luka Zimmerman’s latest feature length documentary film – an intimate portrait and expansive exploration of human conscience, war and the limits of deniability. The film will premiere at Berlinale in February 2017 – more in our news section.

The majority of lives are lived in history. There are, however, a few lives that make history. If that history is dark, occupying the shadowlands and margins of what is known or acceptable, then the price of that making can be high, very high indeed…

Lt. Col. James Gordon ‘Bo’ Gritz – “the American Soldier” for the Commander-in-Chief of the Vietnam War – is one of the most decorated combatants in US history. The inspiration for Rambo, the A-Team’s Colonel John ‘Hannibal’ Smith and Brando’s Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, Gritz was at the heart of the American military and foreign policy – both overt and covert – from the Bay of Pigs to Afghanistan.


Andrea Luka Zimmerman is an artist and filmmaker based in London. Zimmerman grew up on a large council estate and left school at 16. After coming to London in 1991, she attended Central St. Martins. She made two feature length documentaries Estate, a Reverie (2015), and Taskafa, Stories of the Street (2013). Zimmerman won the Artangel Open Award for her collaborative feature drama Cycle (2017) with Adrian Jackson (Cardboard Citizens).

Transition, Transformation and Transience

For the launch of The Wapping Project Commissions, we present three new works by Sophie Mayer, Alice Butler and Lavinia Greenlaw as part of a publication Transition, Transformation and Transience.

Sophie Mayer
Line of Visible Light

Alice Butler
The Peach Slip

Lavinia Greenlaw
A poet’s difficulty with words


Sophie Mayer is the author of several poetry collections, most recently, (O) (Arc, 2015) and kaolin (Lark Books, 2015), and of Political Animals: The New Feminist Cinema (IB Tauris, 2015). Her current project is Disturbing Words.

Alice Butler is a writer based in London and a PhD student in Art History & Visual Studies at the University of Manchester. She is working on women’s experimental writing and feminist performance, and her work has been published in frieze, Cabinet and Art Monthly.

Lavinia Greenlaw has published five collections of poetry, most recently A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde. Her other works include The Importance of Music to Girls and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland. Audio Obscura, her immersive soundwork for Artangel won the 2011 Ted Hughes Award. Her first short film, The Sea is an Edge and an Ending, is released this autumn.