'Along the Way' is an exhibition of new work inspired by a series of circular walks along the Saxon Shore Way on the coast of North Kent. From Higham marshes by the Thames to the banks of the Medway at Hoo St Werburgh and Lower Halstow, this new body of work explores the skyline and strandline of these estuary edgelands. The Saxon Shore Way is the long distance footpath which follows the original fortified coastline of Roman Britain's southern border, from the banks of the Thames estuary to Hastings in East Sussex.
Three walks were chosen as a way of exploring this particular landscape :
- Lower Halstow - Halstow creek - Twinney Wharf - Ham Green - Upchurch.
- Lower Upnor - Cockham wood and Fort - Hoo marina
- Church Street - Higham Marshes - Shorne Marshes
In different ways these walks expose the rich natural and social history of these estuarine hinterlands, where flocks of migratory wetland birds huddle on shorelines overseen by the heavy industry of the Hoo peninsula and everything dominated by huge and ever changing skies. In May the path is fringed by wild bouquets of Queen Anne's Lace, Teasels, Alexanders and Vetch, as it threads between the shoreline and fields, marshes and orchards in bloom. This is a rich diversity of flora and fauna, hidden in plain sight between the bustle of the Medway towns and the docks, ports and power stations of Hoo and the Thames Estuary. It's present bleak tranquility belies a darker and more violent history of naval engagements, fortified defences and hulking prison ships, from one of which Magwitch makes his escape in 'Great Expectations' - "out a little way from the mud of the shore, like a wicked Noah's Ark". At Lower Halstow, in the 18th century, two hospital ships were moored to provide a quarantine station to monitor incoming vessels for infectious diseases. As you walk along the shore low tide exposes the rotting timbers of long forgotten boats and barges, shaggy with seaweed, their blackened ribs providing handy resting posts for the circling gulls. The paintings in this exhibition are a response to these walks and are an attempt to convey something of their unique character.
'Along the Way' is being curated by Mark Loos of the Medway Swale Estuary Partnership (MSEP) and is part of 'Explore North Kent' 2014 week onboard Light Vessel 21 at Gillingham pier, the exhibition runs from Monday 26th to Saturday 31st May, 10:30am - 4pm | FREE.