Flood Light is a poetic journey of discovery into the history of the Grand Union Canal and Westway (A40), inter-related transport and built environments in West London. A search through archives and museums leads to personal reflections on childhood, identity and the legacy of my father; a Polish refugee who as a carpenter contributed to the rebuilding of post-war London.
The Grand Junction Canal, as it was first known, was built between 1793-1805. It was initially financed by public subscription with the bulk of the money coming from the aristocratic Temple family. However, it was later built and run by entrepreneurs and an early example of private capitalism using shares and bonds. The transport of goods, primarily coal, from the industrial heartland of the Midlands to London, powered the industrial revolution.
The Westway built between 1966 and 1970 was part of a much larger Greater London Council plan (thankfully, never to materialise) for building motorway-standard roads across London as a solution to the problems caused by traffic congestion and predicted increases in car-ownership.
in 1801, twenty thousand people turned out to celebrate the coming of the Paddington branch of the canal to what was then the outskirts of London. The official opening of the Westway in 1970 involved the local community protesting in favour of ‘homes, not roads’; a moot point given some residents were living a mere twenty metres from the new superstructure. Twenty-three acres of land under the Westway are now managed by the Westway Development Trust for the benefit of the community.
Constantine Gras is a 2012 Cultural Olympiad artist and this film is part of a project commissioned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and supported by the Victoria and Albert Museum. Flood Light used the V&A's Sackler Centre for Education for film-making workshops and its gallery locations to explore Britain's cultural heritage and diversity.
"Constantine's film captures the essence of a very special area of the Royal Borough, which has been through many changes over the years. Whilst it is also an extremely personal journey, Floodlight touches on experiences that we can all relate to. Beautiful and poetic, and straight from the heart of this talented artist."
Arts Development Officer, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
"Stunned by the beauty of your film: images, rhythm and depth of your research."
Continuity and Script Supervisor, A Room With A View & The Krays
"Your film was very inspiring. I was impressed by how you produced multiple resonating narratives and images in such a short piece, and wove together the various themes in a very subtle way. And it has made me want to revisit an old idea I had about a photography project to do with my own father. So thank you for that."
Participant in the Flood Light project
Portobello Film Festival, 2010: Nominated for Best London Film
Whitechapel Gallery, 2010
London Short Film Festival, 2011
London Independent Film Festival, 2011
Folly For A Flyover Festival, 2011
Shoreditch Festival, 2011
Westway Motorway Art, 2011
Centre for Creative Collaboration, 2011.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?