Tuesday, 31 May 2005
A unique book all about Thurrock has gone on sale. The book of photographs by Richard Heeps and poems written by people from the local community, entitled 'A different Light', is the culmination of a project started in August 2003.
The project is part of Thurrock Council's Arts Generate programme. Arts Generate is an initiative from Arts Council England, East in partnership with five local authorities, including Thurrock, who are working to regenerate their community through arts and cultural projects.
For Thurrock, the aim of Arts Generate is to show the area in a different light, to help change people's perceptions of the borough and draw attention to its hidden beauty and the vibrant life of its communities.
Richard Heeps captured images of Thurrock between August 2003 and February 2004. Drawn to the unusual, the 51 photographs in the book make the ordinary extraordinary and capture the amazing contrasts in the borough, from the calm of the Mardyke Valley to the drama of the industrial landscapes. Other images reveal hidden treasures such as the Memorial Hall at Tilbury Cruise Terminal and The State cinema in Grays, and historical landmarks such as St Clement's Church and the Bata Warehouse.
The project also provided an opportunity for less visible groups of people in Thurrock to express themselves and to be heard. Five performance poets worked with a number of different groups to create work which was initially designed for performance but much of which is reproduced in the book.
David White, Managing Director of Thurrock Council said: "This is a stunning collection. It brings to life Thurrock and all its different aspects. Not only is Richard Heeps' creative photography impressive but the book also features the many voices of Thurrock's diverse community. It is inspirational."
Richard Heeps said: "The original commission was a fantastic opportunity to create an in-depth visual impression of the whole area - as a photographer I'm really attracted by the contrasts between the urban/industrial areas and the countryside. I was also interested in the light here which is influenced by Thurrock's proximity to the river. The production is great - in some cases it's actually better than my own prints."
The performance poets included Choman Hardi, who worked with women refugees to express their feelings of homesickness and their relief and hope of finding a new home. Steve Tasane worked with a group of adults with learning difficulties, Isha Mackenzie-Mavinga led a group of older people, all volunteers, to celebrate their achievements and Leah Thorne drew inspirational work from a group organised by TRUST, the Thurrock Racial Unity Support Task group.
And finally, Bries, a British African rap poet, coaxed moving and thought-provoking work from a group of teenagers from the Gateway Community College in Tilbury and made them believe for the first time ever that they could really write poetry, and perform it live as well.
The groups worked together for six weeks in the spring of 2004 and then performed their work live at the Thameside Theatre in Grays. Poems in the book include 'Where I live', 'My life as a Chambermaid', 'The Policeman's Helmet', 'I worked at McDonalds' and 'The hole story of a dog'.
Richard's photographs were used in part as their inspiration and the photographs were exhibited in the Thameside Foyer for several weeks during 2004.
Nicky Adamson, Arts Generate Programme Manager, said: "The poems reflect the private hopes, fears and feelings of people living here and now in Thurrock, people whose voices are not often clearly heard. Their work also shows them and where they live in a different light."
The books are priced at £10 and available from the Thameside Theatre Boxoffice in Grays or at Borders in Lakeside.
If you would like a copy of the book to review please contact Fiona Stones on 01375 652017.