Monthly Archives: June 2010

Iain Sinclair on Nick Papadimitriou (and Richard Mabey)

Subject of The London Perambulator, Nick Papadimitriou, gets a good mention in Iain Sinclair’s excellent article about Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside in The Guardian. This description of Nick’s practice neatly encapsulates the theme of the film.

“The Unofficial Countryside was an exciting rediscovery for me: the unacknowledged pivot between the new nature writers and those others, of a grungier dispensation, who are randomly (and misleadingly) herded together as “psychogeographers”. Will Self, looking to JG Ballard, a large presence on the western collar of London, as mentor and inspiration, has recently undertaken a series of yomps between airports and cities: the ultimate shock-corridors of deregulated urbanism. A Liverpool clergyman, John Davies, took a sabbatical to hike down the acoustic footprints of the M62, from Hull to Crosby beach. But the most submerged inheritor of the genealogy set out by Mabey in 1973 – Cobbett, Defoe, the 17th-century mercenary John Taylor, John Hillaby – is the self-proclaimed “deep topographer” Nick Papadimitriou. A solid invisible, tramping and haunting Mabey’s familiar turf, the Colne valley: the canals, reservoirs and sewage farms of the Watford-to-Heathrow corridor.

When Papadimitriou, archivist and scavenger, a person who solicits arrest and confrontation every time he sets out to visit another decommissioned settlement, tries to make a record of the Bedford Court Estate, he carries one book as his totem. The estate is doomed, a parking lot for aircraft, but Papadimitriou, recording wild flowers, invading abandoned orchards, keeps faith with his chosen text. This is how he transcribes the episode in a contribution to the anthology London, City of Disappearances (2006): “I first stumbled across the Bedford Court Estate during an attempt to visit Perry Oaks, a sludge-disposal works set up by the County Council in the 1930s . . . The sewage works featured in that record of urban wildlife, Richard Mabey’s The Unofficial Countryside . . . Mabey drew attention to the rare waders using the works as a halt on their migratory flights.”

Read the rest of the article here

The London Perambulator will be screening at Curzon Soho on Wednesday 14th July followed by a Q&A with John Rogers and Nick Papadimitriou

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