The Noise of Memory – walking with Iain Sinclair and Andrew Kötting

Walking with Iain Sinclair and Andrew Kötting from Rotherhithe to Queens Road Peckham

IS: Why did you put your fingers in your ears at this point?

AK: Just the noise, the noise

IS: Noise of my voice?

AK: The noise of memory. The noise of memory can become slightly overwhelming sometimes

The above exchange between the great London writer Iain Sinclair and visionary film-maker Andrew Kötting took place as we approached Canada Water Station on the London Overground walk we were filming for my documentary of Iain Sinclair’s book of the same name. Iain had just read the passage from the book aloud, on the hoof, describing this stage of the walk when he and Andrew had made the original circuit. These were Kötting’s memory grounds. From what he describes as the ‘Tarkovskian zone’ of the mid-1970s docks around Greenland Dock and Norway Dock, to his years living on the Pepys Estate. Editing the footage for the feature documentary, premiered at the Rio Cinema in Dalston 2016, my focus was on the journey of the book. So much of the material from this day in July 2015 had been unused. In fact most had remained unwatched since the initial rough cuts.

Iain Sinclair Andrew Kötting

It was a big day for me. Both Iain and Andrew had been enormous influences on my work. It was after watching Kötting’s Gallivant at the Sydney Film Festival in 1997 that I went out and bought a Super 8 camera with the intent on making filmed travelogues. Iain Sinclair’s writings are a constant source of inspiration. He’s been laying down traces across the city for over 50 years that London perambulators find themselves following, whether knowingly or not. Both of them are continiously setting new standards with each work they produce. So it was a special experience to revisit the rushes from this shoot and cut a full length version.

Iain Sinclair Andrew Kötting

There was the whole scene in the Cafe Gallery in Southwark Park, an important nodal point in Andrew Kötting’s artworld. Tales of scrap metal (and Bakerlite) trading days around South London, book dealing and Camden Market selling, the foot donated to Sinclair’s father and delivered at dinner time. They survery the ever changing skyline from Bridgehouse Meadows. And there are multiple readings in-situ by Iain Sinclair from London Overground.

What is still left to be shared at some point is the extended conversation the pair have in Andrew’s favourite cafe, La Cigale on Lower Road Surrey Quays. That’s a fascinating exchange – but I’ll save that for another day.


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