Photography by Sammy Maitland, Aleksandra Warchol and Abi Spendlove


Storefront, Bedfordshire

26th May – 29th June 2017

Tributary celebrated the River Lea, which rises in and passes through Luton.  Responding to the river’s original Anglo Saxon meaning – which translates as ‘Bright River’ – Spendlove recorded people’s impressions of the Lea, tracking its place in local mythology as it meanders towards the Thames. 

The River Lea passes almost unnoticed through Luton town centre. Rerouted to accommodate the urban environments through which it passes, the Lea is a ‘hidden river’. This project sought to bring the Lea into the consciousness of the town as residents and visitors pass the Storefront en-route from the station and car parks to the shops. 

Tributary showcased a collaborative multi-authored painted poem on the gallery walls and a large hand drawn map of Luton which highlighted the river’s broken and disjointed course. Spendlove’s film Source focuses on the light play on the water around the source of the river. Her sound piece, Lea Voices, created a soundtrack in which local residents recalled their stories of the Lea. The stories pay tribute to the river, connecting it with the rhythms and reflections of both a historical and contemporary experience. 

The final part of the installation was a series of experimental drawings made using ink and melted ice from the Lea. Spendlove also installed some live ice work in Storefront during the launch of the project on 29th June 2017.

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