This essay recounts an evening in Southend to hear Ken Warpole's talk at the Focal Point Gallery 'The New Life in Essex: Nonconformist Life and Culture in the 20th Century'. Thanks to those below for organising the event and the new take on Essex it's offered us:
Ken Worpole is the author of many books on architecture, landscape and public policy, and two notable works on Essex, the county in which he grew up and has been exploring ever since: The New English Landscape a chemistry of word and image created with photographer Jason Orton documents the changing landscape and coastline of Essex and East Anglia, particularly its estuaries, islands and urban edgelands. 350 Miles: An Essex Journey precedes it.
Radical Essex aims to re-examine the history of the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. A programme of events will take place across Essex throughout 2016 and 2017, shedding light on the vibrant, pioneering thinking of the late 19th and 20th Centuries. It’s an interesting partnership between Visit England and the Arts Council, using cultural tourism to shift perceptions of place.
Focal Point Gallery
Flying the flag for Radical Essex is Focal Point Gallery in Southend-on-Sea, a brand-spanking new centre for contemporary visual art and events, as well as offsite projects and public artworks. The launch exhibition for Radical Essex, Peculiar People feels like a weird and wonderful archive of anarchism, and a springboard to exploring an alternative side of the county. The good people of this gallery know how to show their guests a good time and guaranteed you’ll have a truly Essex welcome — thank you for the tea towel souvenir Joe Hill!
The Flood House will be moored at various sites in the Thames Estuary in April and May 2016 and will drift from mudflat to mudflat as if in a future flooded landscape. You can track it’s current location and check live weather readings out on the Essex coast.
Head East. The C2C line will take you out to the coast along marshes, container ports and ancient villages-turned-commuter towns: Rainham Marshes, Tilbury Docks, Canvey Island...But the overiding theme of Essex is that anything goes, so you'll find everything from the Art Deco and Streamline Moderne village of Silverend to highly conspicious secret nuclear bunker at Klevedon Hatch
Photography © Rosanna Vitiello
Map, courtesy of Essex Records Office, from the New English Landscape