Yesterday, we announced the first part of the programme for Estuary 2021. Curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary, Estuary 2021 is led by a partnership between locally-based arts organisations Metal (South Essex) and Cement Fields (North Kent).
Estuary 2021 invites audiences to join us for 23 days of contemporary visual art, literature, film and music set against the spectacular landscape of the Thames Estuary, taking place from 22 May to 13 June 2021.
During Estuary 2021, artists, writers and estuary communities will respond to powerful themes resonant to the river, including protest and rebellion, imperial legacy and climate emergency with both historic and contemporary events in mind. We’ve worked together with partners to reshape the programme and ensure the production of a safe and exciting festival. Artworks will be presented in the landscape, on the river, online and in port towns and seaside resorts along 83 miles of Essex and Kent estuary coastline. Estuary 2021 celebrates culture, creativity, recovery and renewal. We’ll hold site-specific works in the landscape, animating the wharfs, piers, high streets & venues of the key estuary towns including Southend, Chatham and Gravesend.
An Opening Weekend with the working title of Into The Mystery of an Unknown Earth (taken from Heart of Darkeness by Joseph Conrad), will be brought by four artists and curators all of whom know the estuary as home: Jasbir Dhillon, Elsa James, James Marriott and Lu Williams.
We’ve commissioned Arbonauts, Shaun Badham, Robert Macfarlane, Zoe Svendson, Harun Morrison, Jonathan Wright, Shona Illingworth, Patrick Wright, Worm: art + ecology, and many more to respond to specific sites, their history, wildlife and stunning panoramas of estuary life.
Trade, industry and leisure are all part of the fun in estuary life too. The wharfs, piers, high streets and venues of key estuary towns, Southend, Gravesend and Chatham, will be full of contemporary artworks to discover, including Sadie Hennessy, Bob and Roberta Smith and Cohesion Plus.
Celebrating 20 years of the 83 mile walk around the estuary coastline, as defined by writer Tom King in his book. An artist-commissioned map and new works responding to the Thames Estuary Trail will inspire you to set out on the walk of a lifetime at Estuary 2021, in partnership with the Thames Estuary Envoy. We know that there are many walkers who already enjoy the estuary landscapes and are encouraging people to share their photographs, experiences and ideas on how signage, access or facilities along the trail might be improved, online using the hashtag #ThamesEstuaryTrail.
Our large-scale performance, The Water Replies, asks for poetry and prose from those who live along the estuary. Led by poets Caroline Bird and Selina Nwulu, over 1000 poetic responses will be shared through exhibitions, public posters and performances. Find out more and get involved in this project here. You can download The Water Replies book on teaching contemporary poetry, a collection of provocations, ideas and original works, selected by Caroline Bird and Selina Nwulu, designed to release the poet in all of us here. We look forward to receiving the hard copies which will be available in January 2021!
There’s lots to get involved in as part of Estuary 2021, such as open calls, the Associated Programme, artist-led workshops, work placements and volunteering. Sign up to the mailing list here to keep up to date with future opportunities and check out the new Estuary 2021 website: https://www.estuaryfestival.com/
Image credit: Jonathan Juniper