Purfleet-based arts organisation Kinetika today visited Chadwell St Mary Primary School to launch its new creative community project, THURROCK 100 STORIES, which has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England. The company is calling for local people of all ages to get involved in a variety of different ways.
THURROCK 100 STORIES aims to collect 100 great stories about Thurrock and Kinetika is inviting local people to contribute by coming along to one of 7 heritage workshops with artist Jacci Todd and writer Laura Trevail in April. Laura says: “There are many well-known stories of Thurrock’s heritage – Elizabeth I made a famous speech from here to her troops on the eve of battle, and the Empire Windrush docked at Tilbury in the 40s, bringing West Indian immigrants to Britain with their skills and knowledge. These tales are joined by many lesser-known stories flowing through this unique place – personal, fascinating, rich and deep. From the glow-worms of Lakeside to the ghosts of estuary defences, I look forward to exploring every kind of story shared with us through this project, and celebrating the voices of those who tell them.”
Local historian Mike Ostler said: “I’ve lived in Thurrock for over 40 years and I’m still discovering new stories about our heritage. I’ve always enjoyed hearing about characters like the writer Daniel Defoe, or the diarist Samuel Pepys, and their links with our area, but there are plenty of other great stories for us all to share. I’m taking part in Thurrock 100, and I hope others will join me in making the project a big success.”
Kinetika is well known for creating beautiful textiles, and once the stories have been finalised, they will be represented visually on 100 silk flags designed and painted by local people. Kinetika will be looking for creative volunteers to help paint the flags at a series of workshops at Kinetika’s studios at High House in Purfleet in June.
In July the company is planning 10 days of walks around Thurrock, taking in as many of the 100 stories as possible, and Kinetika is looking for volunteers to plan and lead walks of any length or duration exploring places associated with the stories.
As well as working with volunteers of all ages, the company will also be holding workshops in 20 Thurrock schools. Children will contribute drawings and their own stories, and help design and paint the flags, as well as working with leading choreographer Jeanefer Jean-Charles to create their own choreographed ‘greeting’ which will form part of a spectacular finale featuring up to 500 students at Coalhouse Fort on 17 July.
All 100 stories will be made available through the Thurrock 100 website, and via a new 100 STORIES booklet which will be published in autumn 2016.
Lyn Carpenter, Thurrock Council’s Chief Executive, said: ‘When I was appointed Chief Executive of Thurrock Council last summer, I was delighted to find that Kinetika, an arts organisation with an international reputation, had just moved to High House Production Park. I’m even more pleased that they have been able to bring such significant funding into the borough for a fantastic project that will offer training and experience to local people, and help to put Thurrock on the map. I look forward to finding out more about Thurrock’s heritage myself!’
Ali Pretty, Kinetika’s Artistic Director, said: ‘Since moving Kinetika to Thurrock two years ago, I’ve been struck by the realisation that some of Thurrock’s rich heritage is not widely known even to people who have lived here all their lives. I’m looking forward to working with schools and community groups to help find and share 100 great Thurrock stories. I hope people of all ages will get involved by contributing a story, painting a flag, organising a walk, or by taking part in the walking festival in July.
Robyn Llewellyn, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund East of England, said: ‘The borough of Thurrock is jam-packed with interesting heritage, but much of it isn’t widely known. We’re delighted that thanks to National Lottery players we are able to support Kinetika’s excellent project to help local volunteers unearth and share their stories more widely.’