Estuary 2021 arts festival opens this weekend

Estuary 2021 arts festival opens this weekend

Estuary 2021 arts festival opens this weekend

 Published: 20-May-2021

Estuary 2021 is the second edition of the large-scale arts festival that celebrates the lives, landscapes and histories of the spectacular Thames Estuary.

Taking place on the river itself and along the 107 miles of North Kent and South Essex coast, over 90 contemporary artworks, discussion and events explore and respond to powerful themes resonant to the estuary.

Artworks set in the landscape, online and within Covid-safe venues explore the estuary through the lens of contemporary concerns, including climate justice, protest and rebellion, imperial legacy and the rich and often overlooked stories of its diverse communities.

Estuary 2021 is led by a partnership between estuary-based arts organisations, Metal (South Essex) and Cement Fields (North Kent).

The festival launches with an opening weekend packed with live streamed discussions and specially commissioned artworks presented online.

Starting at high tide early on Saturday morning and finishing three tide cycles later at 10pm on Sunday evening, an international line-up of artists, scientists, activists and guests will explore our themes of climate, rebellion and imperial legacy, brought together by a group of four artists/curators who all know the Estuary as their home.

In Gravesend, Marcus Coates’ Our Time places the songs and calls of locally threatened bird species onto 6 clock towers along the North Kent coastline. The work will be heard as clocks would chime, on the hour. Marking these moments will be the beautiful and enigmatic songs and call of species such as the nightingale, curlew, lapwing, cuckoo, and turtle dove. It can be heard at Gravesend Clock Tower.

Sadie Hennessy’s Golden Years is inspired by the pop culture collections of Peter Blake (who grew up locally and attended art school in Gravesend),

Sadie is filling a number of shop windows in St George’s shopping centre with local people’s collections of memorabilia and ephemera. Each window will be accompanied by audio featuring the collectors talking about their collections and the stories behind them.

Keep your eyes out for collections of vintage movie posters, rare trainers, Dr Who and Diana Dors memorabilia, and more. You can see the collections every day.

Alongside the collections will be a golden ice-cream van, encrusted with musical instruments and gadgets, that will host a DJ booth, playing people’s favourite songs live each Saturday from 11am to 4pm. If you can tell the DJ the memories and stories behind your favourite record, they’ll play your song..

Sue Jones, Co-Director of Estuary 2021, said: “I’m delighted to be able to show the wealth of artistic talent we have in Kent, to work together with our Essex neighbours and to highlight the wonderful connection we have through the Thames Estuary.”

For full details of events over the course of the festival, visit

 Last updated: 20-May-2021

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