Camilla Swift

Seeing London afresh, one bridge at a time

The joys of 'Bridge' at Museum of London Docklands

Seeing London afresh, one bridge at a time
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Bridges aren’t necessarily something you think of as being beautiful, particularly if you consider them primarily as the means to cross a river, rather than as works of art. London, however, has always been famous for its bridges, many of which are architectural marvels. From medieval London Bridge, piled high with shops and houses, to the gothic beauty of Tower Bridge, their variety is one of their most interesting assets.

The capital has built itself up around the river over thousands of years, and its bridges offer contrasting viewpoints of the city. This is all emphasised in Bridge at the Museum of London Docklands (until 2 November).  It is one thing to look up at buildings from the street, but the panorama that emerges when you view London from a bridge is entirely different. We also tend to see bridges from above, rather than from below. But as the works in the exhibition show, an alternative viewpoint can make a whole world of difference. Vauxhall Bridge, for example, has a series of bronze sculptures along its pillars that can be seen only from the river or its banks.

Bridges have been a vital part of London for almost 2,000 years, and the pieces on display reflect this. From etchings of London bridges by Whistler and Piranesi to more modern works, such as artwork for Thomas Heatherwick’s proposed Garden Bridge (above), this (free!) exhibition will make you see the Thames — and perhaps even London — in a new light.