Friday 21st May 2021
Walking in the Wake
To take part in this event, please follow this link to our LIVE page. The event will start automatically at the scheduled time.
Walking in the Wake after the scholar Christina Sharpe's In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (2016) is a meditation on the wake of the River Thames ebbing and flowing; the wake or ‘Nine Night’ as a Caribbean diaspora event to celebrate the life of the deceased; the wake in the wave of a moving slave ship, ships of Empire, container ships of globalisation; of contemporary black life in the wake of illness and death.
Walking in the Wake will be a short 20 min film that includes a group of twelve people of African descent walking like disciples along the River Thames along the estuary in the County of Essex, where the black presence in the past and now disrupts and colourises the whitewashed image of Essex boy and girl.
The walk begins at Tilbury Cruise Terminal, where the SS Empire Windrush arrived in 1948 with 500 West Indian immigrants that began post-war Caribbean migration to Britain. It also passes Gravesend across the river, where Charlie Marlow, in Joseph Conrad’s 19th-century novella Heart of Darkness, begins his journey into the dark continent. The walk pauses at the Tilbury Fort, where Queen Elizabeth I rallied her English fleet to defend the realm against the invading Spanish Armada, and where she knighted Sir Francis Drake for his piracy in the transatlantic slave trade. Fear of invasion in the British psyche continues with Second World War defence fortifications against invasion, and the Coalhouse Fort marks British industrialisation. Before turning inland towards East Tilbury Station, the walk will take in a container ship terminus and the mouth of the estuary in the distance.
Walking in the Wake provides black subjective agency in the natural world of the River Thames and the surrounding landscape; a space that they often feel othered and alienated from and therefore ambivalent about. This includes the white gaze about black bodies being in the wrong place at the wrong time.