Jessie Lijiaqi


About me

Life, Memory

“You are cloud, ocean, oblivion’s misgt. And you are also all that you have lost.”

Mediated Environment 

Does a place disappear forever?
In what identity will we face our hometown again?

Visiting Beach


Vanishing Beach

Making Process

Site Intervention

Final Edit Video


In the past, my grandfather worked in a factory in the countryside and had a ground floor house with a large garden and storage. My father and uncle grew up here. I also lived there for a while when I was little. I remember a huge fig tree in the middle of the garden. Now, the factory and all the buildings around the house have been demolished and converted, and familiar neighbours have moved away, as has my grandfather. But he still mentions that place from time to time. Now, he is trying to build a garden between the high buildings in the city which actually evidenced that he wants to find his past lifestyle.

Can we really rebuild nature in the city when it's getting further and further away from us?

Finding  my  site

Through the tall buildings of canary wharf, I walked down to the riverside. I saw a beach in the distance.
This beach is scarcely visited and boasts a slender expanse of sand.
I attempted to access this beach but encountered numerous obstacles blocking my path.
Finally, I found a path to the beach. Standing there, I could see towering buildings in the distance reflecting the sun, casting a harsh glare.

Eventually, though, I caught sight of my reflection in the glass walls of those buildings. I began to realise that I was trapped in an urban forest.

There's a significant amount of leftover wood scattered about this area. It's piqued my curiosity. What's the reason behind their placement by the riverbank? And who brought them here?

My Site  

Ratcliff Beach E14 8DH

As I attempted to enter my site, I encountered a lot barriers. Each barrier seemed to obstruct my progress, prompting me to ponder: Is there still room for us to revive these moments of remembrance within the bustling city? Are the cherished memories of our past gradually fading away amidst the relentless tide of urbanization?

Do we get nostalgic or emotional attachment for a lost space?

Looking at the sea

Whenever I gaze at the waters of London, they evoke memories of my distant hometown, filling me with a profound sense of comfort and security. I often find myself saying that the end of the sea is my hometown. As I stand by the sea, I wonder, are there people on the other side gazing back at me?

Past Ratcliff

Ordnance Survey map, c.1870

Origin of the name

The name Ratcliffe derives from a small sandstone cliff that stood above the surrounding marshes which had a red appearance, it was originally called Redcliffe. Ratcliffe from the fourteenth century was known for shipbuilding and the fitting and provisioning of ships. In the sixteenth century, various voyages of discovery were began from Ratcliffe, including those of Willoughby and Frobisher. The Brethren of Trinity House made Ratcliffe their headquarters in the early 17th century before they moved to the City.

Ratcliff Cross and  Narrow St

Ratcliffe (or Ratcliff) as a place name has almost completely disappeared. There are only two reminders left – one is a street called Ratcliffe Lane and the other is Ratcliff Cross Stairs on the shore, which is shown on maps of the Thames. It is likely that only older people still living in the vicinity might continue to use the name Ratcliffe for the place where they live. 

Keepier Wharf - Lendrum’s Wharf

The word ‘wharf’ derives from Old English ‘hwearf’ meaning an embankment. Once firm ground had been created beside a river, it was possible to stack heavy goods and, at a later time to build warehouses on the land for storing the goods. The word wharf, therefore, is applied to an open space beside a river and also to a building storing goods on that land.

Keepier Wharf was built in 1830 as a coal depot, taking its name from a coal-mining area in County Durham. Coal was brought to London in vast quantities in colliers from places along the NE coast of England that had coal mines. At some time around 1900, the wharf ceased to handle coal. Its name was changed to Lendrum’s Wharf. 

In 1918, a contract for the purchase of Army Waste Paper from overseas was entered into by Back Lundrum Ltd, who constructed a large wharf on the banks of the Thames at Broad Street, Stepney, and fitted it out with equipment to handle this work exclusively. Overseas waste paper will therefore be handled exclusively at this wharf. The name 'Lundrum Wharf' can be found on a 1966 map of the Thames Docks. It wasn't long thereafter that the pier, like many others along the Thames, fell into disuse as cargo was containerised and most of it was handled at Tilbury Dock.

Ruins of Ratcliffe after the fire of 1794

Fires  occurred

In 1794, almost half of the hamlet was destroyed in a fire which began when a barge loaded with saltpetre exploded, the resulting fire destroyed over 400 homes and 20 warehouses and left 1000 people homeless.

The Yorkshire Evening Post of Wednesday 15 June 1938 reported that "a serious fire broke out on hundreds of bales of waste paper on the roof of the Rendrum Dock in Narrow Street, Stepney District, caused by the heat of the sun".


During the summer solstice, I gathered with friends around a fire. Together, we ventured into the forest, collecting branches and through them into the flames. With each branch tossed into the fire, we symbolically released the burdens of the past year, bidding farewell to lingering memories of hardship and sorrow. 

Similarly, we burn offerings in honour of our departed family and memories of the past. 


What does it mean to burn to dust? Is an object truly gone when it turns to ashes? Can we really touch the past through burning?