grand union canal

Ongoing explorations and musings, Worm Wood film project in making, in collaboration with Steve J Fowler.

Sweltering heat, strange smells and heavy stenches drifting from nearby factories, spawning thick vegetation, the canal transformed into a toxic green carpet, impenetrable, surely hiding all sorts of disturbing content in its depth. Something much worse than the bloated dead fox, floating like a balloon with a host of flies having a feast.

I am fascinated by this strange mix of the industrial and natural, in a fierce combat, with cyclists and canal boat sailers the only specimen of homo sapiens comfortable to pass through this zone. Yet here we are, Steve and I, like some deranged pilgrims on a way towards redemption, on foot, daring to disturb the artificial order, getting in the way of whizzing cyclopedes in their mechanical daily routine.

There is something disturbingly intense about this place at this time: the greens are too green, the reds too red, the contrasts too sharp. The temperature too hot, the sky too blue, the air too still, the sun too strong…it brings strange artifice to a setting that was made for a grey backdrop.

Perhaps this is a different planet, a parallel reality, like the one born of a memory whirlpool of Tarkovsky’s Solaris. Not a real north west London, but an imposter.

Thinking back to our walk, home safely now, browsing through the footage I filmed, I am trying to find a crack in that reality, revealing the familiar subdued hues with their cool moist air seeping through.

But instead of any answers, I find a greenish cartoon face looking out at me, a little alien emerging from the toxic germination flowing through the green veins and arteries of this part of north west London.

I wonder what the future holds…

Tereza Stehlikova, Grand Union Canal walk with Steve J Fowler, 6th July 2018

Images© Tereza Stehlikova, 2018

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