Thurrock is a place of industry and transport. Visually it has little connection with the Essex of John Constable with his idyllic rural scenes of hay carts and country folk. What Thurrock does have is striking industrial architecture and the busy River Thames with its factories and ports visited by ships from all corners of the World. The people of Thurrock regard themselves as gritty realists. Thurrock doesn’t shout about its art. Yet Thurrock has produced great artists in the widest sense of the word from drama, comedy and entertainment, News and current affairs broadcasting, poetry and books to sculpture, painting, textiles and photography.
In 2012 four local artists sought to raise the public profile of the arts in Thurrock by organising an Art Trail under the aegis of Essex Summer of Art. Their work was shown in various locations round the Borough. Thurrock Art Trail has now matured and is no longer a showcase of the small number of artists organising the event. It is now a framework that sets the dates and co-ordinates publicity to allow solo artists or collaborative groups to present their own exhibitions at venues of their own choosing.
In 2017, we received funding from Arts Council England and Thurrock Council, as well as support from Essex Cultural Diversity Partnership, Essex Summer of Arts and Essex Network of Artist Studios to expand this celebration, allowing us to include professional artist development sessions as well as community workshops with marginalized groups in Thurrock within the Trail. This money allowed for a dedicated administrative team, namely Yogesh and Steve:
Yogesh is an architectural designer, graphic designer, and project manager within the art sector. His career to date blends these three disciplines with the aim to create social wellbeing and local communities. He has worked with Royal Opera House Bridge, Kinetika, co-founded Ideas Hub Chelmsford. Starting as a 2 week pop up initiative, the Ideas Hub is now 2011 years old and has become a heart of the civic and creative scene in Chelmsford. More recently was the project manager of Village Beach Festival at Metal Southend, a showcase and a celebration of all types of artistic and musical creativity Thurrock possesses.
Steve is an artist and illustrator from Thurrock. He has created various commission pieces for bands, websites and a local brewery, and exhibited throughout South Essex. Steve has a vivid community focus, and knows the Thurrock art scene inside-out. He manages and organizes live arts and music events with Thurrock Arts Collective (a platform showcasing the multifaceted and multidisciplinary artistic talent in live art events) teaches, and is the editor of the Riverside Reporter, a quarterly newsletter for Grays.
Most years, the project is ran by a group of dedicated volunteer trustees.
Patricia is an artist working in ceramics and mixed media and she has exhibited in the UK and in France. She began as a painter, sculptor and film maker but discovered her love of clay as a medium when she was teaching disabled students at Thurrock College. Together with the other Art Trail Trustees, she organised the Thurrock Art Trail in 2014 and 2015. Patricia is a founder member of Thurrock Potters and a member of the Dacha Group of artists. In 2012 she and other members of the Dacha Group created the Swan Gallery above The Swan pub in Horndon on the Hill and it has been a thriving community gallery ever since. Patricia is Visual Arts Correspondent for the radio station Gateway 97.8: you can hear her interviews with artists and news about art events and exhibitions in Thurrock every first Tuesday of the month from 2.00pm.
Lisa Anderson is an artist, gallery owner and community arts organiser. She was born in Thurrock and studied arts at the Thurrock Technical College in Grays and Suffolk College in Ipswich. Lisa started organising the ’24- Create’ events in Stanford le Hope in 2010 with the aim of linking up and encouraging local artists, and ran a multi-artist venue for the very first Thurrock Art Trail in 2012. Recognising the need for a permanent venue, Lisa and her husband opened Well House Gallery in 2014 in a historic former shop in the village of Horndon on the Hill. The gallery is Thurrock’s first dedicated arts exhibition space and has become a vibrant centre for local artists, art lovers, and the village community.
Jane found a new life in Textile Art while studying at Thurrock College after a career in teaching. Working with varied materials, embroidery and handmade felt, her subjects include portraits, landscapes and often have an element of humour.She likes to encourage creativity and values the Art Trail for making art easy to bump into.
“Prudent with money to the extent of parsimony”