Creative Journaling Update

The Water Replies

As part of Estuary 2021, we are inviting people from across South Essex and North Kent to get involved in creating a collective response, capturing the unique relationship between the great Thames Estuary and the lives of those living along the coastline.

We envisage that through this programme, wonderful work will be created by people of all ages who live and work along this amazing river that we all share. We are expecting the unexpected, thoughtful, funny, moving, short, long, momentary, mundane, extraordinary and everything in between. Brought together, we believe this project will create a 'written picture' – a fascinating insight into the people and the lives being lived by the Thames Estuary.

Creative Journals

During the first three months of lockdown, we sent 446 blank journals to individuals and families across the coastline, inviting creative responses to life along the water.

We hosted a range of free activities to inspire journallers and to encourage new creative ideas, originally at arts spaces along the coastline, before being transferred to Zoom due to COVID-19.

These included
? Contemporary poetry workshops led by lead artists Selena Nwulu and Caroline Bird, inviting attendees to explore the water outside of its usual context.
? Virtual sessions from Kent based artist Wendy Daws, focussing on visual responses to the Estuary and creative approaches to journaling.
? A photography sharing and discussion from Metal's artist in residence Mark Massey, exploring the Crowstone, a landmark found on the South Essex coastline at Chalkwell beach.
? Informal sharing sessions, inviting journalers to share their pages virtually within small groups, with time to talk about each others work and reflect on the journaling experience.

It's been incredible to witness how journalers have not only seized these creative opportunities but forged new connections through connecting online. We encourage you to continue searching for #TheWaterReplies on social media, where you can view, like and comment on creative responses from people across the Estuary, and find out how to get involved.

We are now collecting your brilliantly unique journals, via Freepost.

To return your journal for the exhibition :

Send your journal to your nearest Estuary site, in either Essex or Kent.

Please remember to include a note with your name and email address.


If you need a little more time to complete your journal, it's not too late!

Please email [email protected] (South Essex) or [email protected] (North Kent).

We can be flexible and look forward to seeing your work.


All of the completed journals which we receive will be brought together to form a public exhibition for the duration of Estuary 2021, in venues on both sides of the river, celebrating the impact of the water on our daily lives, as shown through the creativity of those living along the water. The exhibitions will be open for the entirety of the festival, allowing attendees to visit our reading rooms, public artworks and performances. The exhibition spaces will be invigilated, with all journals being returned to participants following the festival.

All journallers will be invited to take part in the planning process of the exhibition, and will also be invited to a private view which will mark the opening of the festival.

The dates of Estuary 2021 are soon to be released.
Register for our newsletter to receive regular updates.

Follow @EstuaryFestival and #TheWaterReplies on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to join in with the project online and connect with fellow journalers along the coastline.
Participants can also join our private Facebook group, called The Water Replies.

Quotes from journaling participants

'The session had a great flow and variation to it. I found it very useful, and challenging in all the right ways! It has really helped me think through the creative writing aspect of my dissertation, as well as my continuing exploration into using text in my work'

"I really enjoyed the zoom meeting today, I found Marks images very inspirational (plus in this time of lock down I miss social interaction with others, looking after a grand child just doesn't count!)"

"I found the poem exercises did indeed pull out things that were unexpected"

"I really enjoyed taking part in the online workshops - felt like a little bit of 'me time' amongst the homeschooling and working over the past few months so thanks for organising those! "

"I really enjoyed the project – it gave me a focus to April which was a pretty dark time for a lot of people whose regular leisure, professional and creative activities were suddenly curtailed."

"Journaling should be a way of life! Let's say the Estuary is in my DNA and it's great to contribute to this project."

"The moon rises from the sand, like a prayer"

Estuary 2021 is made possible by

Principal Partners

Creative_Estuary_New_1   ace

Major Partners

ecc uok thurrock thames_gateway selep medway  thames estuary   ebbsfleet    Ebbsfleet mayor locatekent kentcc gravesham uoe bas_coun   south_coun Here for Culture

Commissioning Partners

book_fest community_fund heritage_fund creative_coast bexleysalford fpg lesnes Essex2020Logo The Old Waterworks Logo UCA1

Festival Partners

arts_human uni_south uni_oxford uni_glas send_pier pla opp_se henley Flowers Gallery logoc2c roh southeastern Thamesmead2 Peabody2 BowArts3 raddison uber arriva Canterbury Dartford Faversham Swale1 Thanet Visit c2c1 Chat

Festival Supporters

essex_diversity SouthEssex1 UniversityCentre1 Churches International Exeter Wales Ramm Artist Grand