Corporate planting: insect-free camaflauge for smoking and cabling

Canary Wharf private sign

‘The ingenuity of our fiscal cardinals, our thinktank of snapping turtles, is needlessly invoked.  Sell what has already been stolen and let the victims of this sleight of hand believe that, in some miraculous fashion, their long sequestered property is being returned to them.  The zebra-suited pirates, puffy pink faces innocent of all corruption, are rewarded in votes and adulation, in yen, Deutschmark, krugerands, dollars – credit! ‘Interest’ is a distorting mirror, its own contrary. Let the plant wither on the vine, but the deal must go down.’

Trough of plants

‘The Isle had passed from the hands of the simple bullion thieves who first correctly identified its present malaise, its untapped potential, bought the wharves cheap, and laundered their grubby millions (to make a far greater fortune than their under-exercised imaginations could encompass). The indisposed loot became rapidly critical.  It reproduced itself into an orgy of self-love.’

Charles Fish and smokers

Red geranium coffins

‘The avenues! Treeless, broad, focusing on nothing. Dramatic perspectives leading to no revelation: no statues of public men, no fountains, no slogans. Nothing. No beggars, no children, no queues for buses. This city of the future, this swampland Manhattan, this crystal synthesis of capital, is already posthumous: a memorial to its own lack of nerve.  It shudders and lets slip its ghosts.  It swallows the world’s dross.  Isle of Dogs, receiving station of everything that is lost and without value.’

Pelagoniums CU

‘…we crept beneath towering tributes to the service industries: excess information, sky-trawling disks (humming with morbid radiation), self-cancelling messages from the stars.  Anything could happen, as long as it happened fast. Nothing was made – except the deal.  Immaculate telephone consummations. Fax machines mindlessly reproducing themselves in pin-sharp detail.  High profile offices, lit to be photographed, were unsullied by human occupation.’

smokers and box hedges

‘Replacing the Flour Mills (the Rope Works, Chandlers, Ship Repairers) were faceless dung-beetle enterprises, with designer stationary, offering fast food / muscle tone / wet bikes / lingerie / roses / blowjobs at your console. ‘Selling’ was too important, too rarefied a skill, to be tied any longer to mere products.  It was an autonomous artform, practised for its own sake, creating insatiable hungers even among the most resistant of all targets, the other salesman.’

Electric lights in foliage

power in planting

But something in nature has been affronted: the wind tears at them, flicking back the tails of their trenchcoats, unshuffling the sculpted layers of their hair.  Revenge is imminent. Tangled balls of razor-wire roll down the avenue like tumbleweed.  The glamorous cladding on the architectural anthology of the towers starts to unpeel, to flap and clatter: an unserviced facelift … We abase ourselves, scrape our foreheads in the dirt. And crawl up the slippery marble steps into the Temple.’


All quotes are extracts from Iain Sinclair’s brilliant book ‘Downriver’, and the chapter centred on Canary Wharf –  ‘The Isle of Doges (Vat City plc)’ 1991

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s