Rachael Champion | Back Flow Preventer

Rachel Champion, Back Flow Preventor. Commissioned by The Ballad of Peckham RyeBack Flow Preventer
Peckham Rye Park, 2014

Back Flow Preventer is a sculptural landscape intervention in Peckham Rye Park, which uses the River Peck, one of London’s many diverted rivers as a point of departure.  Back Flow Preventer is a site specific installation which responds to the varied contemporary form of the River Peck.  This artwork proses questions regarding our relationship and history to nature in the built environment.  It is a meandering, inverted concrete sculpture, punctuated by two water storage tanks, occupying the space in the landscape where the River Peck once flowed.  When deinstalled, the cavity will ideally remain unfilled in the landscape as a reminder of  the Pecks original watercourse.

Back Flow Preventer would be ideally placed at the west side of PRP, adjacent to Forest Hill Road, where the Peck once flowed and is now diverted underground.  The sculpture will occupy a length of an estimated twenty four meters , with a width that will vary from sixty centimetres to one meter and a depth averaging around sixty five centimetres..  The shape of the sculpture will meander, widen and taper over the twenty four meters but will ultimately retain a straight, linear trajectory.   Back Flow Preventer will  be made of concrete canvas, a concrete textile that remains flexible until it encounters water.  The concrete canvas will be layered across the width of the cavity, evoking the presence of a vacant water flow.  On the west side of the cavity, centrally located along the length of the sculpture will be two concrete plinth mounted 700 litre water tanks. These water tanks refer to the two 700 litre tanks installed underground near the Ornamental Garden of Peckham Rye Park, which enable the river Peck to be most experienced by visitors as a river.

The installation would ideally exist in Peckham Rye Park from the late Spring until the early Autumn.  During the installation the west side of the cavity will be planted with a variety of wild flowers framing the artwork and softening the industrial nature of the materials used in the artwork.  During deinstallation, the concrete canvas will be removed but the cavity will remain, leaving a trace of the sculpture, a reference to the original watercourse of the river Peck.