Estuary 2016

In September 2016, Metal presented first ever Estuary festival, Estuary 2016, sixteen days of art, literature, music and film curated in response to the spectacular Thames Estuary. An eclectic programme of exhibitions, performance, talks and events pulled together powerful themes resonant to the place, its landscape, and communities.

Curated by Colette Bailey, Rachel LichtensteinGareth Evans and Sue Jones.

265 artists took part in 55 events over 16 days, reaching live audiences of over 100,000 and 23.7 million through broadcast, media and online platforms.

Estuary is a perennial festival punctuated by periodic large-scale moments of public exhibition and celebration across the region. Work is currently underway creating and developing work for the next public iteration – dates to be announced.
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Download a PDF of the complete 2016 programme here.

The Top 10 Ten Highlights Included:

Points of Departure:
17 - 30 September
An exhibtion of new and existing works by 28 contemporary artists in the astonishing Grade II* listed Tilbury Cruise Terminal and venues in Gravesend. Read more.

Shorelines Literature Festival:
17 & 18 September
Writers, artists film-makers and performers explored the Estuary and related themes, alongside tours of Tilbury Port, Family Activities and Riverside Walks. Read more.

Sound of Thames Delta:
1 & 2 October
Musicians, writers, artists, film-makers and broadcasters examined the relationship between place and music, at the end of the world's longest pier in Southend-on-Sea. Read more.

Fort Film Night:
Sunday 25 September
A sea-themed feature film, outdoors in the stunning amphitheatre of the C19th military base, Coalhouse Fort. Selected by public vote. Read more.

LV21:
17 - 30 September
The last Lightship built in the UK moored up at Gravesend to present a mix of art, workshops, music and film on board. Read more.

Museum of the Thames Estuary - Pop Up:
17 September - 2 October
Brand new collection of shipwreck finds from the Estuary bed itself alongside work by Adam Dant that revealed secrets still hidden beneath the waters. Read more.

Infinity (1980-2015):
17 September - 2 October
Iain McKell's extraordinary photographs of the music and street culture of Southend in the 1970's and 80's punctuated the mile long walk into the heart of the Estuary on Southend Pier. Read more.

Wish You Were Here:
17 September - 2 October
Ten artist-designed Beach Huts on Southend Pier took visitors on an artist-led, nostalgic journey through the heyday of the classic British Seaside experience to the present day. Read more.

Southend Charabanc:
24 & 25 September
A weekend of Southend cultural pleasure seeking and sight-seeing with buses laid on to take you from event to event. Read more.

Raga Dawn:
Sunday 18 September
Sunrise performance by acclaimed vocal artist, Caroline Bergvall with singer Peyee Chen and site-specific sound by Sam Blank. Followed by a shared breakfast. Read more.

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.


Photographs on Estuary website are by Simon Fowler, Jon Webber and Benedict Johnson.

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