Seething Lane


Terrill, S. (2023). Seething Lane. Sutton Gallery, Melbourne 15 Apr - 13 May 2023
CreatorsTerrill, S.

In 'Seething Lane', Simon Terrill is presenting for the first time, new photographic works alongside recent drawings and a seven-colour screen print. Individually and collectively, these artworks reflect on fleeting moments in time – captured scenes which might well have been overlooked in the moment and that become significant actions in their detail.

The works reference Pieter Bruegel’s 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus' (c. 1560) as well as 'The Fall of the Rebel Angels' (1562), Jeffrey Smart’s 'Cahill Expressway' (1962), imagery drawn down from Google Earth and a street in central London named Seething Lane. 'Seething Lane' presents new developments in Terrill’s longstanding themes of relations between architectural spaces and their received narratives, public and private identities, and the idea of the crowd as a tool to examine architecture, identity, community and performance of self.


'According to Bruegel
when Icarus fell
it was spring' 1

There are two poems that refer to Bruegel’s painting, 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus' (c.1560) which speak to the invisibility and insignificance of the event pictured in the artwork. In one poem by William Carlos Williams also titled after the painting, he remarks on “a splash quite unnoticed”, while in Musee des Beaux Arts, W.H. Auden observes how “everything turns away, quite leisurely from the disaster” 2.

Seething Lane is the name of a relatively non-descript street in central London, with a bar, a church, a hotel, and some empty looking offices that I cycle past on route to my studio at Somerset House. In the summer of 2018, I was sitting in the studio’s courtyard with a historian friend, when he made the claim that Somerset House is the place where, in 1768, James Cook received the envelope with instructions to sail to the South Pacific. The stated purpose of this journey was to map the transit of Venus: to establish the distance of the sun from the earth and by extension, the size of the solar system. However, as we now know, due to a funding arrangement between the royal society and the royal navy, this envelope enclosed another that was only to be opened when the transit of Venus mapping was complete. Contained within this supplementary envelope were the instructions for Cook to continue from Tahiti in pursuit of a long held European hunch – that to balance out the north a great southern landmass existed.

As it happened, my historian friend was close but not quite right. The exchange didn’t happen at Somerset House, as the Naval offices only moved there in 1786. Rather, the moment happened nearby in Seething Lane. And it was on that non-descript street, in a place with a name that digs inside the consequences of an act, in which an envelope was passed from one person to another.

1 Landscape with the Fall of Icarus, William Carlos Williams
2 Musee des Beaux Arts. W. H. Auden

KeywordsFine Art Photography, Architecture, Crowds, Performance
Date15 Apr 2023
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Deposited25 Jul 2023
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