Inaugurating Estuary 2016

Launching on 17 September, Estuary is a new biennial arts festival inspired by the Thames Estuary and situated in historic locations along the Essex and Kent shorelines. A place of transition, and a gateway that links the UK to the world, it is described by event organisers, Metal, as an “edgeland.”  Staged across 16 days, the inaugural festival will bring together leading practitioners within the fields of art, literature, music and film at numerous iconic sites including Tilbury Cruise Terminal, Coalhouse Fort; Chalkwell Hall and Park, The Seafront, Focal Point Gallery and the World’s Longest Pier in Southend-on-Sea.

Featuring an innovative blend of newly commissioned and existing pieces, Estuary 2016 will invite artists to interpret themes resonant to the site, its history, landscape and communities. Curated by Colette Bailey, Gareth Evans and Sue Jones, programme highlights include Points of Departure at Grade II* listed Tilbury Cruise Terminal and venues in Gravesend; Shorelines Literature Festival; Sound of Thames Delta, where writers, artists, film-makers and broadcasters examine the relationship between place and music; Fort Film Night staged within the stunning amphitheatre of Coalhouse Fort; and Infinity (1980-2015), an exhibition of Iain McKell’s photographs of the music and street culture of Southend in the 1970s and 80s punctuates.

For Estuary 2016, Metal is working in partnership with five estuary local authorities, as well as local and regional agencies, such as the Port of London Authority, Thames Estuary Partnership, South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership and the National Trust, and a wide range of arts and business partners, including Tilbury Port, Southend Pier & Foreshore, Southend Museums, Coalhouse Fort, Focal Point Gallery, Whitstable Biennale, Whitechapel Gallery, Totally Thames, Artswork and ROH Bridge, Ideas Test, Focal Point Gallery and Kinetika, as well as South Essex College, SEEVIC and a number of South Essex schools. The festival has been made possible through an Ambition for Excellence grant from Arts Council England as well as a number of other partners.

Estuary 2016, 17 September – 2 October, various venues.

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1. Thames Estuary. Metal. © Simon Fowler.