Produced for Sculpture in the City, a cultural initiative that turns the City of London’s insurance district into an urban sculpture park, this site-specific artwork was installed in Leadenhall Market, the ancient heart of the City.
Fishing nets woven by Polynesian seafarers are one inspiration for this handwoven textile. By mapping wind and sea currents within the lines and nodes of their weave, these intricate nets revealed an unseen natural infrastructure that conditions the course of journeys, and allowed their creators to navigate vast oceanic distances.
The City of London is a place profoundly defined by its maritime past. In her recent biography of novelist-sailor Joseph Conrad (from which the artwork draws its title) Maya Jasanoff describes 19th century London’s role at the nexus of maritime traffic: “A spider in a worldwide web of somewheres, London caught the world in lines of news.” Indeed, the City’s insurance district, where Sculpture in the City is located, owes its provenance to London’s historic status as a maritime capital. The artwork alludes to these weblike mercantile associations of trade and exchange.
Moreover, like the fishing nets of its inspiration, A Worldwide Web of Somewheres additionally charts subterranean infrastructure in the City of London. Telephone and broadband cables meet with tube tunnels, water, and sewerage, together with representations of topography and superstructures – forming a twisted fabric that invisibly defines lives above ground.
The work hangs suspended above our heads: recalling both an acrobat’s safety net, or a hunter’s trap; equally robust and fragile. In this time of uncertainty about how Britain relates to the world, this handwoven artwork reaffirms our continued dependency on physical connections to people, places and ideas that lie beyond the scope of our immediate understanding.