Gwen MacGregor

Mudlarking Series – Non-returnable


4000 clay pipes from the River Thames, London, England, text; originally exhibited in Ghosts, Gallery 76, Toronto, 1991. Version 2 exhibited in Nature in the Garage, installations in storage sheds, Toronto, 2000.

The technology of smoking was first brought to England at the turn of the sixteenth century. For First Nations in North America, tobacco and smoking had very specific cultural and spiritual functions. Taken out of context in England, it became a commodity. Four thousand smoking pipes gathered by Lewis and myself from the River Thames and shipped back to Toronto were installed in the wall of the gallery. They were intentionally arranged to look like bones to reference the legacy of abuse of First Nations culture.

Photo: Robbie Polly

Mudlarking is the process of digging up objects from the River Thames in London, England. Beginning in 1991, I created three installations that each focused on one kind of object and its particular characteristics and history. The works Pins, Not here not now, and Non-returnable are together known as the Mudlarking Series.

Non-returnable, Version 2 as part of Nature in the Garage, Toronto