The Old Waterworks libraryThe Old Waterworks library © Anna Lukala

Creative Estuary announces exciting new cultural commissions

Creative Estuary – a partnership of public sector and cultural organisations working together to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Essex and Kent into one of the most exciting cultural hubs in the world – has announced its first four commissions to showcase the creative talent that exists in the region.

Located in Gravesend, Southend, Chatham and Tilbury each of the innovative Creative Estuary Commissions will reflect the rich history of North Kent and South Essex, with the Thames Estuary linking the two shores.

The inaugural commissions – each awarded £15,000 in funding – form a central part of Creative Estuary’s commitment to supporting the region’s artists and engaging its communities, to further connect them with the huge amount of creativity that exists in this part of the UK.

Moored in Gravesend, Kent, LV21 is a 40-metre former lightship that has been transformed into a floating arts and performance space. Under the captaincy of its Director, Päivi Seppälä, a crew of creative professionals and volunteers from the surrounding community will examine the theme of SILT: “…soil that is carried along by flowing water and then dropped at a bend in a river or at a river’s opening…”

The LV21 commission will explore the town’s boundary at the edge of the River Thames, by sifting through silt and in so doing, dredge deeper into the layered sediment of untold tales left behind by the rushing tides and strong currents passing by.

Working with artists, performers and local people of all ages, LV21 will embark on a journey to discover, capture and bring to life the forgotten stories and histories of Gravesend that have over time, sunk deep into the riverbed. Using soundscapes, projections, and lights, SILT will bring back to life the calls of the shrimpers returning with their hauls, the creaking timbers and flapping sails of their boats, mixed with contemporary music and sounds to create a fascinating, immersive experience.

Across the water in Essex, Precarious straits ~ survival on Southend’s new coast, Southend-under-Sea is the result of a new collaboration between The Other MA (TOMA) and The Old Waterworks (TOW), two small Southend-based arts organisations who are starting to work together more closely. The commission will culminate in an exhibition held at the TOMA Project Space, a contemporary art space in the Royals Shopping Centre on Southend’s High Street, with a series of workshops taking place at TOW, a former pumping station converted into an art centre and artists’ studios.

Their commission’s starting point is the research put forward by Climate Central – an independent group of leading scientists and journalists – that huge swathes of the world’s coastlines will be submerged by 2050, including much of Southend. Precarious Straits will be a manual for survival, looking at the speculative economic, political and ecological futures people may have to live with.

In Chatham, members of the local community and visitors to the historic Kent town will be invited to reflect on the changes witnessed by the ancient river, including its own traditional influence on the area and what the future of this rapidly-developing town holds.

Throughout next Spring’s Estuary 2021 festival period, Chatham’s Sun Pier House and Intra Arts in Rochester will work together to present a programme that draws on themes such as estuary explorations, recording living memories of the river’s industrial heritage, and bringing Chatham Intra’s previously hidden histories into public view.

British artist EVEWRIGHT will create Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories, a unique art installation at Tilbury Cruise Terminal Essex, between September and October 2020. Launched as part of Black History Month, EVEWRIGHT’S work will be a memory walk of images and documents, installed on the bridge’s 432 panes of glass, representing the lives of Windrush pioneers and descendants.

The installation will also feature a soundscape of new and existing audio stories that visitors can download on to their devices using QR codes. The Tilbury Bridge installation will form a backdrop to a series of live performances, by selected artists and curated by EVEWRIGHT.

Announcing the new commissions, Emma Wilcox, Creative Estuary Director says: “As we grow the region’s potential as a cultural and creative hub, we are committed to supporting artists who live and work in the Estuary region. In everything we do for the Estuary, we want to capture imagination, change perceptions and provide opportunities. Over the next two years, Creative Estuary Commissions will further support a range of cultural projects, with new funding for producers and artists, from small-scale activity to large scale rojects.”

“Creative Estuary’s support will also include access to funding, new partnerships, training and development opportunities. We are always keen to hear from curators, artists, and organisations and in particular, individuals from Black, Asian, Disabled, D/deaf and Minority Ethnic communities, along with those who feel their voices and stories are not commonly represented.”

For more information about Creative Estuary, visit, Twitter @creativeestuary / Linkedin / creative-estuary / Instagram @creativeestuary

Download Press Release here

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