Saturday 22nd May 2021 to
Sunday 13th June 2021
This project coincides with the publishing of the book Crude Britannia (Pluto Press, May 2021), written by James Marriott and former energy correspondent of the Guardian, Terry Macalister. The book takes the reader on a journey of the UK’s estuaries, from North East Scotland, Merseyside and South Wales to London and the Thames Estuary, telling the story of Britain's oil-drenched past, present and future. James Marriott and Jane Trowell’s project for Estuary 2021 celebrates and conveys the grandeur of the full Thames Estuary, and aims to provoke participants to feel the past of this area as a great factory of oil and gas, to grasp the ecology of the tides, river, fish and birds, and to sense its future as a place of wind and sun. The energy systems of the past eighty years – refineries, gas terminals, pipelines, bunker barges, fuel depots, petrol stations, airports – have been engines of private wealth. The energy systems of the coming age – wind farms and solar arrays – are currently owned by foreign-based private capital. How can the people of the Estuary come to possess the sea’s space, the wind’s force and the sun’s passage that is their common right? Possess it imaginatively, emotionally and perhaps legally, establishing the Commonwealth of Winds? The necessity for such a shift is demanded by climate change, which is itself changing the Estuary – increasing the river’s spates, the tide’s floods, the wind’s storms and the sea’s height. Tackling climate change will impact on all, will need to be the responsibility of all, and should empower all. The work of addressing it needs to be intertwined with social justice in South Essex and North Kent, but also in those distant ‘elsewheres’ upon which we have depended (and still depend) for energy such as Iran and Nigeria. The project website will host an interactive map of the wider Thames Estuary and its former, current and future energies, together with music, live readings, discussions, and film. Alongside this will be documentation of a small vessel, the Isis, which is moored at Gravesend, which will sail the Estuary dressed with a commissioned sail carrying the words The People Will Possess the Wind.