Conrad to Containers: Barking to Beijing

Friday 21st May 2021

Conrad to Containers: Barking to Beijing

The blocking of the Suez Canal by a huge container ship earlier this year meant that a hidden world was suddenly in the news. What was inside those steel boxes and how do they get here? Container Cult - @containercult has been exploring the global networks involved in supporting our lifestyles. Stanford-le-Hope is a symbolic point in the logistics chain that stretches from Asia to the UK. At a large new automated terminal here, thousands of steel boxes arrive daily, bringing this island nation everything from food to computers.

This estuarine Essex settlement beyond the M25 is also where Joseph Conrad lived when he wrote his Imperial Gothic classic, Heart of Darkness. The novel narrates the horrors of colonialism visited upon a continent rich in natural resources. Famously, the darkness in question is not the African jungle but the brutalising Europeans whose vast commercial enterprises dehumanise those who stand in the way of extraordinary extractivist profits.

This Thameside location is also where the book begins. A century later, we join the dots in this participatory walk to a viewing point where we will undertake a collective ritual, inviting each other to ask what is the modern day equivalent? Walking in Conrad's footsteps, we contemplate the enormity of the transglobal container networks that bring - so they say - 90% of our stuff in the Global North. And we ask, what is the cost...?

Important Information
Start times: 10am & 1pm (see booking link for more information)

Duration: c. 1h 15m. Please note you will need your phone and headphones for some audio. Doomed Gallery will be selling a joint zine we have created especially for this event, with Ken responding to the place and also to Conrad's legacy. Please bring binoculars if you have them.

Accessibility: it is a pleasant c. 1.3 mile walk from the train station to the marshes viewing point (near Mucking nature reserve), some of it over a stony path.

Due to Covid regulations, spaces are limited. Please only book if you are 100% committed to coming. Please kindly cancel with several days notice if you do decide not to attend because places are limited and someone else could be having the experience. We will not be able to replace you on the day!

A second date may be added later, please keep checking the booking page. Thank you for your consideration.

See #ConradtoContainers #BarkingtoBeijing on social media.

About the artist
Simon Cole is a walking artist, writer and storyteller (@hackneytours @simonconalcole) who takes people on a journey, creating new maps in East London, at the coast and in between (eg via @containercult on Instagram). He is drawn to contradictions, the unspoken and our collective shadow. An educational tour guide, his own shadow is an alternative anti-guide pointing to the unseen and the deliberately glossed over. For several years he has explored the estuary and its infrastructure. revealing the hidden landscape's role in our survival. He traces the lines of globalisation from Hackney to Asia, creating spaces where we can open up and connect deeply with our environment and ourselves. Featuring Doomed Gallery: the photographic legacy of a cult East London gallery run by Ken Flaherty with a specialism in creating zines that shine a light on subcultures and alternative ways of seeing the world.

Photo: containercult


Friday 21st May 2021


Meet outside: Stanford-le-Hope train station, London Road, Stanford le Hope, Essex

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Meeting Point: outside Stanford-le-Hope train station, London Road, Stanford le Hope, Essex

After the event, you will be able to visit the nearby Mucking nature reserve. If you are coming by car, you may wish to park at the reserve then return directly to your vehicle from the marshes viewing point while rail travellers walk back to town.



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