The Kazakhstan art exhibition in a disused London power station

Whilst out and about scouting a new walking tour in the East End of London, I had the good fortune to come across one of those hidden treasures which I still do so regularly even after all my exploration.


Going along old Wapping High Street, one of the most unexpected sights you might see is the wonderful old Victorian bridge which crosses the channel from the Thames to the Shadwell Basin, an old docks area now converted to luxury housing and outdoor life.   Originally the bridge moved due to good old-fashioned steam power before eventually being converted to run on electricity.


In the background of the photo above, you can see the disused Wapping Hydraulic Power Station which was originally built in 1890 and run by the London Hydraulic Power Company.  It was used to power machinery, including lifts, across London, not least this fantastic. The Tower Subway was used to transfer the power, and steam, to districts south of the river.

After its closure earlier in the year, the building was designated a grade II* listed building in December 1977.   It was saved from total dereliction in 1993 when it became the home of both art and culinary experiences in the unique setting of a Victorian industrial setting, complete with much of the original machinery.


The exhibition I came across was one that featured art from Kazakhstan from a modern and post-nomadic perspective.


Having studied and always wanted to visit Kazakhstan, I think the curator of the event was a little surprised to have someone visit who could converse about Kazakhstan as most could about France or Canada.

Kazakhstan in Central Asia is a country that is rapidly modernising away from its nomadic and horse-based lifestyle oppressed by the Soviet Union into a vibrant and proud country.  It still faces challenges though with poverty and environmental issues, not least with the death of Aral Sea which I wrote about in 2014.  All of these things are evident in the exhibition.


What made the art itself all the more stunning was this unique setting, sat amongst heavy old machinery.


I deliberately haven’t posted all the photos I took as I don’t want to discourage anyone from visiting and as you might be able to tell, it isn’t one of the most visited galleries in London.


There were many highlights here but one of the most moving is the exhibit below which deals with the Great Purge, an awful event during Stalinist rule which saw millions sent into exile or simply murdered.


It was such an interesting experience and such a unique setting.  It just goes to show that there is so much more to London than the big tourist locations.  If you want to experience a different side of London then remember Ye Olde England Tours …. we do the big sights too 🙂

If you’d like to visit the Post-nomadic exhibition then you have until October 16th  Opening hours: Mon-Sat: 10 am- 7 pm, Sun: 11 am – 6 pm Venue: Wapping Hydraulic Power Station, 37 Wapping Wall, E1W 3SG



About Stephen Liddell

I am a writer and traveller with a penchant for history and getting off the beaten track. With several books to my name including several #1 sellers. I also write environmental, travel and history articles for magazines as well as freelance work. I run my private tours company with one tour stated by the leading travel website as being with the #1 authentic London Experience. Recently I've appeared on BBC Radio and Bloomberg TV and am waiting on the filming of a ghost story on British TV. I run my own private UK tours company (Ye Olde England Tours) with small, private and totally customisable guided tours run by myself!
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4 Responses to The Kazakhstan art exhibition in a disused London power station

  1. Ankur Mithal says:

    Shutdown factories can be fascinating experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fascinating as ever. Kasakhstan is one of the most fascinating countries I have ever lived in, for its mixture of post soviet Russian and finely balanced modern muslim. Almaty is a lovely city but travelling around the country is surprizingly difficult.


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