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A Solo Exhibition by Maria Bagnoli

Forgotten Lake is a project about a landscape reimagined. It is a real location, between Twyford and Waltham St Lawrence (Berkshire). I called it the “forgotten “ lake because it is no longer, having been drained over 200 years ago. It may also be “drained” from the memory, as so many people have come and gone and local knowledge is fast disappearing, maybe like the lake once did to the inhabitants of the locality. I was probably the last of a generation to have heard the older people say “there was a lake here once”. I think that somehow lodged in my imagination. A landscape needs a memory, a phrase used by the Irish artist Bernadette Keiley in her exhibition in 2018, and this is what I have tried to reconstruct through a series of different visual interpretations.

Forgotten Lake Exhibition

There are still many reminders today of its existence, one being the Cut river, which flows through Paley street and out to the Thames at Bray. I spent many months taking pictures, walking many paths, making maps and studying maps, some of which were supplied by local people and engineers.

Research work for an artist opens up creative possibilities to experiment with materials and methods to achieve an appropriate language of interpretation. I looked into historical surveying equipment for example, and carried out experiments in situ, to enable me to be integrated right inside what I was following.

Forgotten Lake Exhibition

What if it had never been drained: what if we had left it alone, for fishing, or only marginally drained it? Is there scope for it to re-establish another ecosystem against a backdrop of developments, farming, and climate change? Will the present agricultural landscape also dwindle to give rise to a second phase: ”Forgotten Farmland”? Maybe that is a question for the next generation.

Where to find us

This event is at 571 Oxford Road, Reading. Public transport is available from Reading town center and Reading station if you are visiting from elsewhere.