Metal are a major cultural organisation / facilitator with three locations in the UK, and their Southend-branch has – amongst many others events - organised the ‘Shorelines’ and the ambitious (and successful) ‘Estuary’ festivals in 2013 and 2016 respectively.
"Radical Essex is a project that re-examines the history of the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture." Led by the energetic focal point gallery, with amongst others Ken Worpole as a regular contributor.
Although not a voice very present in the discussions about the Estuary, sailing enthusiast (and fellow northern German) Jan Holthusen has over the years been slowly working on an impressive website on the Thames Estuary. Initially with a strong focus on sailing (its selection of books aside from Uwe Johnson’s ‘Inselgeschichten’ originally almost exclusively on sailing and/or boats) it features also an interesting section on the Estuary’s history, and has become increasingly broad in its approach.
"Explorations of cultural and natural aspects of tidal landscapes in the UK, The Netherlands and beyond." A blog set up as part of a research project by Owain Jones (Bath Spa University) and Bettina van Hoven (University of Groningen) in 2015, but continues to regularly publish on aspects relating to tidal cultures.
Caught by the River
"Caught by the River began as an idea, a vision and a daydream shared between friends one languid bankside spring afternoon.It was conceived as an online meeting place for pursuits of a distinctly non-digital variety: walking, fishing, looking, thinking. Birdsong and beer. Adventure and poetry. Life’s small pleasures, in all their many flavours. It was – and still is – about stepping out of daily routines to re-engage with nature. Finding new rhythms. Being." The project continued to grow and went into publishing, events and - in 2016 - its very own 2-day music festival. They also curated the bookshelves at Rough Trade East many years ago, where I first discovered, amongst others, Jason Orton and Ken Worpole's '350 Miles'.
Focal Point Gallery
An energetic gallery with a ambitious programme, they not only run exhibitions but also commission works, organise a host of events, screenings, talks and temporary installations – and put out publications and printed matter. They are the key driver behind the Radical Essex project.
A gallery for contemporary art with a strong focus on photography, representing amongst others Edward Burtynsky, Edmund Clark, Simon Roberts and Nadav Kander. One of the first galleries to open a space in East London, on Kingsland Road. For a number of years I used to pass it twice daily; now not so much anymore, although I try to see most photography shows.
Whilst a lot of trade inevitably happens online these days, bookshops remain fabulous places, and should be supported in their continuous struggle to keep afloat. And despite all of the well familiar 'customers who purchased this title also bought these', there's nothing that can beat a well curated bookshop with knowledgeable staff. Bookshops have contributed in no small part to this library - from the bookstall on Broadway Market to the WHSmith at Heathrow Terminal 3.
My local, a well curated and stocked book shop, run by friendly, dedicated and experienced staff, with always a good selection on landscape - in fact usually a whole shelf top to bottom. An institution on Broadway Market, E8. They also host readings, book launches and exhibitions.
Broadway Market book stall
A regular feature on Saturdays for as long as I can remember; it was here that I bought my first Stephen Gills, and also came across Jonathan Bayer's 'Eye on the Estuary'. Run by Neil Burgess.
Bookshop Experience Southend
They ran the bookstalls at both the Shorelines festival and the Estuary festival - quite a few books in my library originate from their shelves.
When recently in Berlin an old friend introduced me to this gem of a bookstore. Out on a walk on the Pfaueninsel earlier that day it turned out that we shared an interest in literature on landscape, and I’d asked him whether he was aware of any German authors who addressed landscape in a similar way as many British (Macfarlane, Deacon, Nan Shepherd to name but a few) had done; we thereafter went straight to Zabriskie.
It’s a charming shop, specialising in books on nature and culture, in German and English, run by two charming people. It was here I first saw Chrystel Lebas ‘Field Studies’ (which later that year was to win the Krasna-Krausz award), and although I didn’t pick that one up on my visit, I left with a selection of other books, amongst them two of Helmut Salzinger’s publications.
They also host readings, and organise excursions (foraging, bird-watching amongst others) in Berlin’s pockets of wilderness. If in Berlin, do pay them a visit!
They recently won the 'Bookshop of the Year award' – check their Instagram feed to see they reaction!
Whilst it’s somewhat difficult to single out individual people, there are however a few whose involvement with the Estuary goes further than one project.
Over the years, Rachel Lichtenstein has become one of the key people involved in the Estuary - with a book on the subject, several short films, contributions to various projects and - most importantly - key curatorial roles in both 2013’s Shorelines Festival and 2016’s Estuary festival, there are probably few others whose involvement with the Estuary has been similarly intense.
With both ‘350 Miles’ and ‘The New English Landscape’ (both with Jason Orton), contributor to the ‘Radical Essex’ project and speaker at many events, Ken Worpole’s involvement with the Estuary (and particularly so the Essex part of it) is also profound. He maintains The New English Landscape blog, on which he keeps reviewing books and projects related to the Estuary itself, and more broadly on contemporary reflections on landscapes.
From producer of the 1994 BBC Series on the Thames, author of the accompanying book, to ongoing enthusiast about Uwe Johnson’s life on the Isle of Sheppey, Wright’s involvement with the Estuary spans several decades.