17 September - October 2016
Sixteen days of art, literature, music and film curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary.
The Thames Estuary is an 'edgeland', one of the great ignored landscapes of our time. It is a place of transition-- one of arrivals and departures - at the co-ordinate of optimum transit and distribution, the place where all things gather and disperse'. A gateway that connects the UK to the rest of the world. It has, at times, been the front line for the defence of the realm as well as the first port of welcome for migrants and visitors from around the world. Industrial heartland and logistics sit alongside wild habitats, ancient monuments and concrete commuter towns that merge into seaside fun. Echoes from the birthplace of early punk, Brent Geese, fog horns and cargo ships create an unmistakable soundscape. It has long provided a source of fascination, inspiration and mystery for artists.
Our programme for the inaugural Estuary - the first in what will become a biennial celebration of the distinct and important cultural significance of the region, has been shaped to reflect and capture these wildly different aspects of the great river as it widens out to become the North Sea.
We have invited visual artists who work in sound, film, photography and installation to create new work or loan existing pieces for Points of Departure. Writers, historians, archaeologists and artists share new writing, expertise and insight into the Estuary and how it connects us to the rest of the world in Shorelines. Sound of the Thames Delta brings musicians, journalists and broadcasters together to examine the impact of landscape and place on music. Southend Charabanc celebrates the Estuary seaside experience building contemporary art and performance into the traditional pleasure trip to the beach. There are opportunities to get on boats, visit the working infrastructure of the river, outdoor cinema in a C19th fort and public realm work including a pop up Museum of the Thames Estuary and Wish You Were Here on Southend Pier.
We understand that the Thames Estuary has as many interpretations as there are people who have connected with it. That it holds deep significance for the history of our country that is complex and layered. That politics and personal viewpoints inform this history. That those who have spent a lifetime on the water understand it in a way that is impossible for we who have not, and it is with this in mind that we invite you to discover and enjoy the multi-faceted programme of Estuary 2016 as much as we have loved discovering and putting it together.
* Quote from the film essay, Stranger on the Shore, 2016 by Michael Smith - premiering in the Shorelines Cinema on Sat 17 September.
Thank you to partners
The idea of Estuary has been in development at Metal since 2009 inspired by the ambition of Southend Borough Council to create a permanent Museum of the Thames Estuary on the seafront. A trip to Estuaire along the Loire estuary between Nantes and St Nazaire, in France helped to shape our ambition for the Thames across a similar scale and geography.
We are incredibly grateful to the broad set of partnerships that have made Estuary 2016 possible. This includes the four estuarine local authorities, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Gravesham and Kent as well as regional agencies, business and arts partners, Capital Cruising, London International Cruise Terminal at Tilbury, The Port of Tilbury, Pentalver, Southend Pier &; Foreshore, Port of London Authority, Thames Estuary Partnership, LV21, Whitstable Biennale, Totally Thames, Southend Museums, Coalhouse Fort, Focal Point Gallery, Film and Video Umbrella, Whitstable Biennale, and many others.
Estuary 2016 has been supported by Arts Council England through an Ambition for Excellence grant.