21 May ESTUARY 2021 – Watermarks Plaques celebrate the Thames Estuary Trail at venues along Thames
Thames Estuary Trail author Tom King was joined by artist Maria Amidu at the Shoeburyness Hotel on Tuesday 18 May to view Maria’s artwork, Watermarks, for Estuary 2021.
Maria has created a series of eight plaques for sites along the Thames Estuary taking her inspiration from Tom’s 2001’s book, Thames Estuary Trail: A walk around the end of the world. Commissioned by Estuary 2021 to develop artworks that could celebrate Tom’s walk along the 107 mile trail, Maria drew out from the book the humour and Tom’s deep attachment to the landscape.
Maria joined Tom to walk the trail and see sites for her plaques. Four of the plaques are in Essex: at Shoeburyness, Chalkwell Beach, Mucking Nature Reserve and Tilbury. The other four are to be found in Kent.
The plaques are made from vitreous enamel and each feature text from Tom’s book and a representation of the estuary painted in Indian ink. The colours of each plaque are site-specific, reflecting the building they are sited on and the quality of the light and weather at that site on the day Maria and Tom visited.
Maria said “I love walking. I am a bit of a geek, wanting to get the map and find out the route. So it was a joy to be asked to collaborate with Tom, to discover the Thames Estuary Trail and find new places to explore. What I had not expected was that Tom’s book would be so laugh out loud funny. I really wanted to highlight that humour so each plaque features a particularly hilarious moment from the book. The page of text dissolves into the waters of the estuary on each plaque.”
Tom King said “The Thames Estuary has an ability to ambush you. It constantly surprises and delights. It has been really lovely to work with Maria, with whom I felt an immediate connection, and to explore with her the changing nature of the estuary and to revisit the walk I first did in 2001 to see how much the area itself has altered.”
Shoeburyness was the beginning and end of Tom’s walk in 2001 so the first plaque had to find a home here and the owners of the Shoeburyness Hotel was only too pleased to host the artwork. Stephan Belot and Michelle Marrs are business partners at the Hotel and they said: ‘We are delighted to be a site for one of Maria’s brilliant plaques. The Shoeburyness Hotel is an old building, sitting very close to the Thames. We are very proud of its history so for us to help celebrate Tom’s book and to recognise the significance of the estuary is great. We hope lots of people will visit to see the plaque or discover it on a visit to us.”
Maria’s plaque is situated on the outside of the hotel and can be viewed at any time. Estuary festival begins on 22 May and runs until 13 June. Find out more here: www.estuaryfestival.com