Acoustic Shadows
Duncan MacAskill (April-May 1997)

In 1997, Duncan MacAskill spent a month creating an exhibition and making all the work within the then still derelict Wapping Hydraulic Power Station in response to the invitation by Jules Wright.

He produced large-scale canvasses and climbable paintings; sound environments and a wall of interactive mail art. In the Boiler House he supplanted a tree, which to his great delight was nested in by an errant pigeon that had flown in through the absent roof. He even enlisted an opera singer to wander the floor, bursting into song at whim and challenging the difficult acoustics of the building (the idea which gave the show its title). The resultant effect was a landscape of the mind, a Tarkovsky film that let visitors discover the artwork in an experiential way as they explored the building. 

When MacAskill (almost literally) moved in and infiltrated the space, it was dank, damp, decaying and dripping.

It was very unsophisticated and raw and brilliant for that with big, big doors and all the machinery.

Come sun down, there would be just one power source that he used to light up his appropriated studio. He described it as a twilight zone. 

It was spooky, working away there, being in an empty building that was full of ghosts. You could hear the furnaces roaring and people working. When I worked there during the night I was shit scared by people coming in the building. Usually they were security people and I had to try and explain myself because they didn’t recognise what I was doing as art.

The many facets of the show included scraped Field  paintings, abstract DNA paintings, and an interactive, climbable Hole painting. Then there was the Wapping Wall, a floor-to-ceiling structure of found and painted wood, flanked by ten smaller paintings on the surrounding walls. On the opposite side of the corridor, a dank floor was fitted with small, interlocking canvasses and dusted with chalk so that human footfall helped comprise the picture, as did water, perpetually dripping from the ceiling. Two out-of-use sinks were filled with a mound of sawdust and oranges, respectively, and left to decay.