Wetlands • Eloise Moody

The Drift
shirts, thread

The Drift
shirts, thread



Artist's Statement

The Drift

If you close your eyes, the sound of a bird beating its wings could almost be mistaken for the sound of a shirt hanging from a line on a windy day.

Empty clothes are a reminder of the people they have contained.

Eloise traced the migration routes of all the visiting birds seen at WWT London in May of 2020. From this research she compiled a list of over 80 countries that the birds migrate to or from covering much of Africa, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, South Asia, Northern Europe and up through Scandinavia. 

40 Londoners who originate from or have lived in one of these countries were invited to swap a shirt of their own in exchange for a brand new Turnbull and Asser one. Each old shirt has been re-cut into a windsock, representing the person who once wore it – who once made a migratory journey of their own.

The youngest participant is 1 and the eldest is 91.

36 countries are represented and the people are from all walks and stages of life; diplomats, refugees, children, retired people, poets and security guards, writers and baristas. One woman fled the Nazi’s over three quarters of a century ago, while others have fled dangerous and unliveable situations very recently.

Although this work is ostensibly about migration, it is more simply about people. People will continue to seek ways to improve their lives – by moving to where opportunity or safety can be found.

It is a supremely hopeful act.

This project was generously supported by Turnbull and Asser, who very kindly supplied the 40 new shirts. Turnbull & Asser is the definitive British shirtmaker and a Royal Warrant holder. Since 1885, Turnbull has made luxurious shirts and ties in its own English workrooms for individuals who value quality and craftsmanship.


Audio Description Transcript

The Drift by Eloise Moody

Occupying a field adjacent to the entrance of the London Wetland Centre, The Drift by Eloise Moody consists of a grid of 40 tall black poles, each with conical fabric windsock attached to the top.  The installation measures 14 metres by 22.4 metres and is 5 poles deep and 8 poles wide.  Each pole is 2.8 metres from its neighbour.  Each windsock has a different colour and pattern of fabric.  They are made from shirt fabrics donated by refugees and migrants whose country of origin matches those that the Wetlands Centre birds fly from and to.  Visible are a range of shirt fabrics from blue and white pinstripes to vibrant geometric patterns in turquoise, purple and orange.  Some of the windsocks have areas of plain white fabric.  These are the result of fabric donations that weren’t large enough to create a whole sock and so the donated fabric is patched with the white.

Framed by the trees, when the wind blows, these brightly coloured windsocks bounce and flap in the wind providing a vibrant pop of colour.  As you walk past the installation, the reflection of the poles and windsocks can be seen in the lagoon.  The sound of shirt windsocks blowing in the wind could be mistaken for the sound of a bird flying past.