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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

About a River: The Serco Prize for Illustration at the London Transport Museum

The River Thames was the subject for this year’s Serco Prize for Illustrations, resulting in 50 interpretations of the river and what it means to us.

Written by Jessica Furseth


To Tower Bridge and beyond by Henry Billington

Detailed, buy abstract, dreamy or stylish – the exhibition at the London Transport Museum showed the River Thames being all these things. But as different as they were, each image presented the Thames as a symbol of the city of London, and a uniting feature for Londoners.

This is the third time the Museum has collaborated with the Association of Illustrators (read last year’s account from Jenny Robins here). Most of the illustrators who made it to the 50-strong shortlist had focused on highlighting London landmarks, and how the river ties everything together. Others turned their eye to the bridges, either through detailed reproduction such as in Kate Rochester’s entry, or in this wonderfully colourful piece by Amelia’s Magazine contributor Abigail Daker.


So much to see by Abigail Daker


Bridges by Kate Rochester


Bridge on Saturday by Jonathan Lam

A less bright but very stylish entry came from Jonathan Lam, whose image shows the Hungerford Bridge with passing riverboats. It’s not a great bridge, Hungerford, straddling the train track going into Charing Cross station, but it redeems itself by its usefulness as the main entrance to the South Bank from Soho. My favourite entry was probably that of Henry Billington, showing Tower Bridge as it opens to let boats through. After Tower there aren’t any more bridges (at least not until the Estuary) and the river becomes a different animal, less glossy and more industrial. The only entry that really hints at this is that of Pete Starling, which includes the fascinating Thames Barrier.


The long river by Sam Bevington


Three slices from a river by Pete Starling.

‘Over under sideways down’ by Kevin O’Keefe was another favourite, with its clean lines and nods to the design of the London Underground roundel. Similarly, Sam Bevington’s contribution with its retro-futuristic feel, reminds us how the Thames was once a workhorse and not just a pretty face. The river is calmer these days, but its function remains equally important; every time we cross the bridges, it’s there for us to look at and remember why we live here.


Over under sideways down by Kevin O’Keefe


The river and dreams by Juste Kausaite. All images courtesy of the London Transport Museum.

The illustration exhibition has now finished, but you can visit the London Transport Museum at the Covent Garden Piazza, London WC2E 7BB.

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