HH5On Friday 31 May 2013, some 100 people attended the official launch of the Essex Summer of Art and the Thurrock Art Trail. The event took place at the High House Production Park in Purfleet (right).

Present was Thurrock’s MP Jackie Doyle-Price; Thurrock’s new mayor, Cllr Tony Fish; the leader of Thurrock’s Conservatives, Cllr Phil Anderson; the Thurrock Council Chief Executive, Graham Farrant; and a number of other representatives from Thurrock Council, and other councils and Art Trails across Essex, as well as the Essex Summer of Arts team led by Lynsay Strange. Other VIPs attending included Tom & Ruth Oliver, Tom being former head of the Art Foundation Course at Thurrock Technical College, which was amongst the best in the UK; and Chris Harrold, former President of the Thurrock Arts Society.

There were tours laid on for people to see around the Royal Opera House facility. Refreshments were provided by the Thameside Theatre team under the gudiance of Mark Allinson.

Visitors also wandered (and wondered) among the display of contemporary art in the two Barns at High House. This exhibition was called Subjects To Be Destroyed?! and was on over the weekend. Local or locally-connected artsist showed their work. These included (in alphabetical order):

  • HH6Hi Ching – outdoor performance with Beacon Hill School (right)
  • John Espin – mixed media 3D collages
  • Violet Gray – abstract photographs
  • Jonathan Harrold – films
  • Tim Harrold – assemblages
  • Kwok Lee – flotsam sculptures
  • Michael Murphy – ‘collage’ paintings
  • Michael Richardson – mixed media reliefs
  • Lata Upandhyaya – metallic sculptures

These artists represent a wide range of ages, approaches and disciplines, but have in common an outlook that is, perhaps, uncommon. The body of work presented by the group is both conceptual and impressionistic.

Lynsay Strange introduced four speakers. These were:

  • Andrea Stark (Director of High House Production Park) – she gave a welcome and explanation about the Park
  • Cllr Martin Palmer (Essex County Council) – he gave some Key Summer of Art statistics
  • Matthew Rowe (Director of firstsite) – he explained firstsite’s involvement the Essex Summer of Art project
  • Jonathan Curzon (facilitator, Thurrock Arts) – he pointed out that only four years ago, he read a report that implied Thurrock did not need art and that there were very few artists practicing in the borough. However, last year, the Thurrock Art Trail had 12 venues and 40 participating artists; and this year, 14 locations with 80 participants.

In the evening a further 50 people came to an informal private view. This featured the Boiler Room’s Harry Hunt singing a half-hour acoustic set; Tim Harrold reading some poetry by WW Vellacott, whose brother farmed at High House (both were practicing believers); and a world exclusive pre-premiere showing of a short film written and directed by Jonathan Harrold, A Messy Life – the actual premiere is in Sheffield on Thursday 6 June.

Thurrock’s church is playing a huge part in this aspect of the Creator’s redemption of individuals and communities through creativity. If we are created in the Creator’s image, then it stands to reason that everyone is a creation created to create! And if that is the case, the release of creativity is a means through which the Creator can re-create creation through creators, bringing fulfulment, self-worth, joy and expression. In a word, the Thurrock Art Trail is transformative.

Christian involvement in the Art Trail is:

  • Grays Parish Church is hosting an exhibition of paintings by the Thurrock Art Society, 3-7 June.
  • The Thurrock Society for Artists with Disablities. are exhibiting at Grays Methodist Church, 13-16 June.
  • The Stanford and Corringham Boiler Rooms are holding their annual CREATE art shows at both venues on 8 June.

Please see the link to the left for details of addresses and times.

Notes on some work by Christian artists shown at Subjects To Be Destroyed?!

HH9Re:Configured by Kwok Lee of the Stanford Boiler Room community

Kwok was born in Hong Kong, settling in the UK when he was a child. He has worked at Thurrock College for many years, principally in the Hairdressing Department.

“I live and work in Thurrock and having the Thames at my door step is a God send in feeding my love of fishing and collecting driftwood.
My sculptures are made from driftwood that I have collected locally along the Thurrock section of the Thames estuary.
Each  piece is unique and has an industrial historical past obscured by years of decay and neglect.  Nature  has shaped the wood to form a weathered appearance.  I always wonder if only dead wood can talk, their past would be worth a listen.
My work is about renewal and rejuvenation. Salvaging something worthless and discarded and re-configurate ….. is becoming my obsession.”

Kwok’s work will also be showing at CREATE at the Stanford Boiler Room this coming Saturday, 8 June. This is also part of the Thurrock Art Trail.

HH7Triptych by John Espin of church-in-the-house

Originally hailing from Rossington near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, he came to live in Essex at the age of 12.
Attended Thurrock College in the early seventies and graduated from Maidstone College of Art where he was tutored by Roland Piché and Anthony Gormley.  Achieved a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Sculpture/Fine Art.
Worked at various studios in the South Essex area and in Art Education for 30 years.  Now retired from education but continues to produce art work in his home studio.

“For me, anything starts a piece of work.  Beginning a piece of work may well be started by the discovery of a small piece of torn wet card or paper, a photograph, a magazine clipping, a toy, words, a memory or dream….the list goes on.  I put together some of these things that come to my attention. Sometimes I alter that information, but it becomes an image I would like to share with the observer, and like every artist I am simply saying….look…”

HH8The Truth Is… by Tim Harrold of church-in-the-house

Expressive Arts at Brighton Polytechnic inc. performance artist with Theatre of the Bleeding Obelisk 1982-85

This piece, like much of my work, is an assemblage using readymades and found objects. It is a visual parable, and can be understood on many levels and from many perspectives. The medicine cabinet was found in Brighton in about 1984.
The title comes from three repeated cut-outs of words found in a magazine article some years ago: they say, one each eye and on the mouth of the white wig stand head, “The truth is, The truth is, The truth is”.
Two anonymous people walk through the undergrowth as if on a ‘Godyssey’, sojourners of discovery. Their size gives the impression that the head is some sort of lost monument in a jungle.
In the corner, another anonymous figure sits on a small ledge that is part of the cabinet. Behind him is a crossword clue: “4. The truth (6)”.
The piece is meant to be shown with the door open, as if to invite the observer into the mystery, the metaphor, the metaphysical moment.
Above the door, another small piece of print says, “The universal truth”.
This is perceptualism.
Do you not perceive it?

“… being apprentice artists… (is) perhaps the most profound way in which we humans bear the Creator’s image. We’re capable of giving being to new things, babies – to be sure, a dimension of the image of God given to all living things – but more: ideas, languages, poems, songs, homes, cities, civilisations, even religions. The parallel is awesome: ideas, languages, poems, civilisations, religions and so on don’t self-create. They are utterly dependent on us, their creators, for being, just as our universe didn’t self-create and can’t endure without being sustained by the Creator. So we’re given this most amazing gift, not just the gift of being, as wonderful as that is, but also the gift of creating, of helping add things-that-be – ideas, poems, homes, religions, and so on – to the universe.”
From The Story We Find Ourselves In by Brian D McLaren (Jossey-Bass 2003)

See art at other venues around the borough who are participating in the Thurrock Art Trail. Download the leaflet and map to the left of this screen.