Sunday 13th June 2021
On the day InspiralLondon – as a collective - will offer an improvised musical performance, on the edge of the Thames. This unique performative visit will include a brief evocation of Concrete Barges performance given by Bow Gamelan Ensemble member Anne Bean. We will also be livestreaming and sharing this event experience on our web platform.
Afterwards, you are invited to walk with us towards Purfleet, along the Thames to Mardyke Creek, to join in Kinetika’s walking tour and celebrations. The route enjoys views of RSPB Rainham Marsh, and we will be guided by locals along the Estuary to end at High House. Rainham Marshes/Rainham Barges is part of a walking event curated by Kinetika that includes a tour of Purfleet, a world-food picnic and introductory welcome to Kinetika’s projects including Beach of Dreams.
Rainham Concrete Barges were constructed during the Second WW. Their hulls formed from ferroconcrete — concrete reinforced with iron. They were used as oil barges or as floating structures to support temporary docks for D-Day Landings or for other wartime improvised engineering. 16 remaining Barges were given a new lease of life after the storm floods in 1953. Towed back to the Thames, then sunk, to shore up damaged flood barriers against future tidal surges. They remaining in the mud supporting other migrants: the annual wintering of rock and water pipits, and roosting sites for other birds.
51º 29.9’ N , 0º 11’ E documentary TV event created specifically for an Alter Image (Channel 4) performing Concrete Barges in Rainham, Essex, in 1987. The Bow Gamelan Ensemble chose to work with the concrete barges near Rainham where they had previously explored sound on several of their many river trips into the estuary, recognising the huge differences in sound from low to high tide. They were filmed for over ten hours as the tide ebbed and flowed capturing the massive energy of this amount of incoming water and the ways one could harness this power to shift and shape sound.
Bow Gamelan Ensemble - the artists Anne Bean, Paul Burwell (1949 – 2007) and Richard Wilson extensively explored Thames riverscapes by boat, which fired their imaginations. Visions started to germinate and their shared excitement of the countless possibilities within the visual dynamics and unexpected sounds, often on vast scales, stimulated the ideas that became embedded in the group DNA.
Kinetika is an internationally renowned company, with unrivalled reputation for working with local communities on projects that change the way people feel about where they live. From local community walks in Essex to high streets and city squares across the UK, out to the Great Wall of China, Ethiopia and West Bengal.
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About the project
InspiralLondon is an ambitious artist-led metropolitan trail, a collective on the ground mapping, creating a new walk trail winding in and out of London. This anti-clockwise spiral walk begins at Kings Cross, unwinding from its centre point six times, to finally end at Gravesend, only to begin again. This unique Metropolitan trail crosses the River Thames at ten locations, using bridges, foot tunnels, a cable car and ferries. The Inspiral Trail is coordinated by InspiralLondon CIC, and was an original idea conceived by counterproductions in 2013 as a partner project of Metropolitan Trails International and Metropolitan Trails Academy.
InspiralLondon facilitates and curates artworks, research and interventions that interrogate the city and its hinterlands, with particular focus on: placemaking, experience culture and emotional capitalism, urban ecology and sustainable futures, community and well-being. Initial on the ground mapping (2015-19) examined ways of thinking of Urban Space as an other environment: the potential shape and direction of walking route/s; how we experience the city; how we encourage artistic – experimental, social & ecological – approaches to, and other ways of being in and intervening in the city. InspiralLondon's principle activity remains exploration –in ‘on the ground mapping’ - sharing experiences together in the places, landscapes, or with the people, who join our tours and detours.
The trail is an invitation for all to explore, rediscover and reconnect with our city; to begin to rethink the urban, the metropolitan and its relation to other/ness/places. Over 5 years – crossing drained marsh, the courses of dried up streams, boggy overgrown riverside, canals, drainage trenches, even under piped rivers, streams and along the artificial canalised New River, returning without fail to press our feet into the muddy foreshore of the Tidal Thames and its major tributaries, we remain awed and inspired by London’s watery geometry.
Now InspiralLondon embarks upon another voyage of discovery, by raft, kayak, in waders and boots or by boat to investigate – Hydrodetours on the fluid ground – something of the Thames Valley Basin’s rich undervalued watery commons, detouring and exploring along and among its watery terrain. In order to understand its complexity and its variety but also to create a new sense of value and wonder within its beautiful biodiversity.
In these times of rapid extinction, climate upheaval and ecological crisis Hydracity takes time to celebrate and share together the extraordinary and unexpected, hidden within the Metropole’s watery veins and shifting flows. We share our stories and activities allowing other public/s to navigate these fluid times, building together walking rafts to the future.
Photos: Charlie Fox