The River Thames is not even the longest river in the British Isles and a mere pygmy in comparison with many other rivers in the world, yet its significance to British and world history is immense. London is one of the major cities of the world today, but it would not have existed if it were not for the River Thames passing through it. Just before the Thames reaches London it becomes tidal and formed a natural harbour such that London has been a port since pre-Roman times.
Still today, the Thames acts as an artery of communication and trade route between Britain and the rest of the world. Photographer Julia Fullerton-Batten is not alone in her admiration of the glories of the river. Notably, it has been an inspiration to many painters. Monet painted the river repeatedly. Turner too captured the working river even revealing the early nineteenth century fumes and smoke from the city’s factories and river traffic. Whistler was yet another. In the 1860s and 70s he was drawn to paint the bustling and rapidly changing urban neighbourhoods close to the river. But when one views all these works, it is not at all difficult to understand why they all found it such an attractive, potent subject matter.
Her own fascination with the Thames has now taken a more concrete form. She has made it into a project and is in the process of choosing, investigating and photographing a selection of cultural and historical narratives from along its banks.
Julia was interviewed on BBC World about the project, watched by a worldwide audience of 100 million people.