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Gravesend and Chatham art projects on Thames Estuary awarded £15,000

Two Kent art projects have been awarded £15,000 each for projects showcasing talent along the Thames Estuary.

Creative Estuary is a partnership of public sector and cultural organisations working together to transform 60 miles of the Thames Estuary across Kent and Essex into a cultural hub.

LV21 moored at Gravesend. Picture by Jason Arthur
LV21 moored at Gravesend. Picture by Jason Arthur

It has now announced its first four commissions to showcase creativity in the region.

Each of the Creative Estuary commissions – found in Gravesend, Chatham, Southend and Tilbury – 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.

One of the grants has gone to LV21, a 40-metre former lightship – which was previously moored in Medway and now in Gravesend. It is now a floating arts and performance space.

Under the captaincy of its director Päivi Seppälä, a crew of creative professionals and local volunteers will examine the theme of silt, the soil that is carried along by flowing water and then dropped at a bend in a river or at a river’s opening.

The Edith May Sailing Barge, at Chatham, is part of the river's history. Picture: Rikard Osterlund
The Edith May Sailing Barge, at Chatham, is part of the river's history. Picture: Rikard Osterlund

The LV21 commission will explore the town’s boundary at the edge of the River Thames, by sifting through silt, dredging into the layered sediment to discover 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 bring to life the forgotten stories and histories of Gravesend.

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 an immersive experience.

In Chatham, artists will look at changes witnessed by the ancient river, including its own traditional influence on the area and what the future of this town holds.

Throughout next Spring’s Estuary 2021 festival, Chatham’s Sun Pier House and Intra Arts in Rochester will work together to present a programme drawing on themes such as estuary explorations, recording living memories of the river’s industrial heritage, and bringing previously hidden histories of Chatham Intra –an area within the Star Hill to Sun Pier Conservation Area – into public view.

Other events will take place on the other side of the River Thames, in Southend and also Tilbury Cruise Terminal Essex – just a short ride away on the Gravesend-Tilbury ferry.

The Tilbury Bridge Walkway of Memories, a memory walk of images and documents, will be installed on the bridge’s 432 panes of glass, representing the lives of Windrush pioneers and descendants.

That is on show between September and October this year.

Creative Estuary director Emma Wilcox said: “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 projects.”

For more information about Creative Estuary, visit www.creativeestuary.com

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