Estuary 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 83 miles of South Essex and North Kent coastline, an ambitious programme of artworks and events will respond to powerful themes resonant to the Estuary.  These include climate justice, protest and rebellion, imperial legacy and the rich, often overlooked stories of its communities, bringing new audiences to significant sites to foster a deeper understanding of the estuary.   

Installations, exhibitions, events and an accompanying major talks and film programme respond to estuary industrial heartland, nationally important heritage sites, protected wildlife, acres of open marshland, together with seaside fronts and port towns.  

Estuary 2021 is led by arts organisations, Metal (South Essex) and Cement Fields (North Kent) working with a wide range of arts and agency partnerships across the region.


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Estuary 2021 will build on the success of Estuary 2016, developed by Metal with partnership from Whitstable Biennale, five estuarine local authorities, the Ports, the PLA and other key Thames Estuary stakeholders. This first edition took place over 16 days in September 2016 hosting 55 events across 7 key venues.  265 artists too part, attracting live audiences of over 100,000 with a further 23.7million reached through media and broadcast platforms. Curated by Colette Bailey, Gareth Evans and Sue Jones.


The archive programme from Estuary 2016 can still be viewed through this website through the Programme, Locations and Artists tabs.  Or you can download a PDF of the complete Estuary 2016 programme here.

To deliver Estuary 2016 Metal worked in partnership with four estuary local authorities, Southend-on-Sea, Thurrock, Gravesham and Kent and a wide range of regional agencies, business and arts partners, including:-

  • Arts Council England
  • Capital Cruising
  • Port of Tilbury
  • Southend Pier & Foreshore
  • Southend Museums
  • Coalhouse Fort
  • Focal Point Gallery
  • Whitstable Biennale
  • Whitechapel Gallery
  • Totally Thames
  • Artswork and ROH Bridge
  • Ideas Test
  • Kinetika
  • Port of London Authority
  • Thames Estuary Partnership
  • South Essex College
  • SEEVIC
  • South Essex schools.



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