Sunday, March 24, 2024

'Dock Life Renewed': A talk by photographer Niki Gorick

Book Cover
'Dock Life Renewed' by Niki Gorick.

Thursday March 21, 2024.

It was a little bit of rush to leave work, head home, get changed and walk to Watford Metropolitan station, to catch the train to London. My mum, who had made her way to Croxley station, was waiting on the platform as my train pulled in.

Once aboard we settled down and enjoyed the ride to Finchley Road, where we switched to a Jubilee line train for the rest of our journey to the Isle of Dogs.

Arriving at Canary Wharf station we made our way along Bank Street and on to the South Dock, crossing the South Quay Footbridge to look for somewhere to buy a bite to eat.

Just along South Quay Walk, near Admirals Way, we found a collection of street food vendors. There was Burrito, Chinese, Greek, Indian and Lebanese. We opted for Lebanese, which was tasty and filling. The owner was friendly and obviously took a liking to the two of us, as he gave us a free drink and extra meat on our dishes. 

Street food vans
The Burrito Bro and Steam Momo vans. 

Lebanese street food van
Lebanese street food van.

With our hunger now satisfied, we made our way along South Quay Walk towards the Millwall Cutting and our destination... the Theatreship.

Theatreship nameplate
The venue.

After taking the obligatory photos of the surrounding buildings and the Theatreship we boarded the vessel, and made our way downstairs to the bar area. 

It was while we waited for our drinks that a lady approached and asked, "Are you Daryl?" I replied "Yes." and then she introduced herself as Niki Gorick. (I follow Niki on 'X' and was one of the backers for her other book 'Faith in the City of London'), from where she had obviously recognised me. After introducing Niki to my mum we all discussed history and photography, before I informed Niki that we had a mutual friend in my manager, which started another conversation. My mum and I then sat down and waited for the talk to begin, while Niki continued to chat with the other visitors.

Shortly after 19:00 we made our way through to the event space and took our seats, along with about fifteen other people. Some of the guests were members of Niki's family or part of the team behind the Theatreship, while others had arrived to hear the talk. 

Theatreship bar area
My mum chilling on the sofa in the bar area.

Before Ms Gorick began her talk we were treated to a short 6 minute-or-so film about the Theatreship, tracing the work undertaken in the Netherlands and her voyage to her new home in West India Docks. Then Inigo Lapwood, who restored much of this historic vessel, among others, introduced Niki to the stage and the talk began.

On the screen, beyond the stage, we were treated to 65 photographs from the book, which contains over 170 images, which Niki Gorick explained and added anecdotes to. She explained how the idea for the book had come to her during lockdown, when she saw a boat being lifted out of a dock to be repaired. This got her interested in the life of those who live and work among the docks of St Katharine, Surrey Quays and Canary Wharf and so set about finding out more.

Speaking with the various harbourmasters, members of the Canal & River Trust, dwellers of the docks, business owners, apprentices and more, Niki was able to gain the trust of those she wished to chronicle. The friendships and acquaintances that she managed to nurture also allowed for her to 'be in the know' when certain events or ships were due to use the docks.

Following the talk, which lasted about 45 minutes, Ms Gorick answered some questions from the audience. Following this I managed to have a quick talk with Inigo Lapwood, who had been acting as the technician ensuring the right photo appeared at the right time, about the Theatreship and his next boat project... The Artship.

We then made our way back out to the bar area, where my mum purchased a signed copy of the book. As there was no signal within the ship, we had to make our way to the top deck to complete the purchase, which gave us a chance to exchange emails and for me to have a photo opportunity. I asked if she had any idea what her next project would be about, to which she replied, "not yet".

Niki Gorick and myself on deck
A photo of myself with Niki Gorick, following her talk.

After saying farewell mum and I made our way ashore and took to taking photographs of the Canary Wharf buildings, which were now lit up beneath the night sky, before heading back towards Canary Wharf station.
One Canada Square at night
One Canada Square between two buildings.

Canary Wharf at night
The view across South Dock.

We toyed with the idea of taking the Docklands Light Railway to Tower Gateway and then a Metropolitan line train back to Watford. Or, taking the Elizabeth line to Bond Street and then a train to Baker Street and then home, but we stuck with our original plan, taking the Jubilee line to Baker Street and then a Metropolitan line train home,

We bought coffee at Baker Street and enjoyed the uneventful ride back to Croxley, from where we decided to take a leisurely stroll, to Watford, along the peaceful Grand Union Canal towpath, and up to mum's house, before I headed home myself.

A thoroughly entertaining and informative evening that we both enjoyed.

To read more about Niki Gorick click below.

To purchase the book click below.

To find out more about the Theatreship click below.

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