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London Before · Now · After
by Ian Whittlesea

London is an international city whose identity is constantly being rewritten and redefined. In the light of these continual major changes we wished to explore the city’s past, present, and potential future through the eyes of some of its enthusiastic citizens. London as a state of mind. In the summer, we asked the London based artist Ian Whittlesea to join us.

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Hatton Cross Station

London Before

"The area around Hatton Cross underground station – this is where I grew up, at the very limits of London, and the first and last place that some visitors to the city see."

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London Now

"Wapping – this is where I live now, and where my family is growing up, a place that was once itself at the edge of the city and now seems to exist alongside London rather than as part of it."   

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The Budokwai

London After

"The Budokwai – this is where Yves Klein practiced Judo when he was in London in the 1940s and where I learnt Judo when working on a translation of his book 'Les Fondements du Judo'; for almost 100 years people have been practicing Japanese martial arts here, doing the same things in the same way, searching for perfection."


Ian Whittlesea (b. 1967, Isleworth, UK) lives and works in London. His work assumes many forms, ranging from paintings to projections and artist books, exploring the relationships between text, image, and diagram both on the page and in reality. Inspired by conceptual art practices and their discourse, Whittlesea expands his quest into the terrains of esoteric theories, drawing on the legacies of occult traditions such as Mazdaznan, Rosicrucianism, and Theosophy to inform his concept-driven practice.

On the occasion of the festival "Art Night 2017", Ian Whittlesea invited the audience to participate in an illuminated meditation in the Bascule Chamber, located underneath Tower Bridge. His ongoing work "Becoming Invisible" was adapted to the rarely accessed cavernous space. This experiential and performative audio installation was accompanied by a light show, ranging from total darkness to the most intense light imaginable. In groups of fifty, the audience was guided down into the chamber by the voice of hypnotherapist Ruth Sabrosa, accompanied by the sound of rhythmic breathing and visualization cues. Once in the chamber, the participants were asked to reflect on the color spectrum and finally to step into a white cloud, potentially allowing them to become permanently invisible.

Chamber Web

The Bascule Chamber

Invisible Cover Angle Best Web

Becoming Invisible, The Everyday Press, London (available at Salon für Kunstbuch, Vienna)

Thank you Ian Whittlesea!