Silk River Project 2017

About the project 

This ambitious project explores the unique relationship between London and Kolkata through a year's artistic exchange between communities along the Thames Estuary and Hooghly River.

Artistic director Ali Pretty – working in collaboration with associate artistic director Ruchira Das and an international team of contemporary and traditional artists, writers and photographers will capture and interpret the experience of journeying along these mighty rivers.

Working in 20 locations from Murshidabad to Batanagar (Hooghly) and Kew Gardens to Southend (Thames) to reinterpret a shared heritage, we will raise cultural awareness of the Indo-British relationship through engaging diaspora communities and connecting young people with artists along the route.

Through Artist led workshops (Sept 2016-April 2017) in the 20 communities, we will create content through drawing and oral storytelling activities inspired by common themes that capture British and Indian intangible culture.

This material will inspire 20 hand-painted Bengal silk scrolls. Ali and an international team of artists will lead Textile residencies in Murshidabad (Jan 2017) and in Thurrock (July 2017) for 30 – 40 artists, craftspeople and students in each country.

In collaboration with Think Arts we will devise animated walks with the 20 communities along both rivers, using the silk scrolls that are inspired by the Bengali tradition of Patachitra to share their stories. In September – December 2017, an international group of artists, writers and photographers will be invited to take part on foot and by boat to experience the stories of the two interconnected rivers.

An online exchange using Facebook and other social media platforms will be curated by Mike Johnston, senior lecturer in Digital Media at Bath Spa University, working with independent Bengali film maker Korak Ghosh and a team of students from Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute, Kolkata to enable participants and audiences to connect and share content. Kevin Rushby, Guardian travel writer will write an online journal for this website, enabling an international artistic and literary

community to follow and contribute digitally.

Silk River is part of Totally Thames that runs from 1-30 September 2017

Morning Session

The world's shipping still passes the town's front door. The long-established industrial foreshore was once the site of the earliest known cement kiln and continues to be the site of paper mills that once drew the Sikh community to settle here.

A six-mile walk along the foreshore and into the picturesque town centre through the old, newly restored covered market and a visit to the truly spectacular Sikh temple, before boarding LV21, the lightship moored at the riverfront for an early evening spoken word performance.

Please note this walk is not suitable for those with access issues or walking difficulties due to steps and uneven terrain. It will be a relatively fast paced walk.

Please book separately for the afternoon event if you would like to stay all day and walk the full 6 miles.

Technical difficulty of walk: Difficult

Booking for the morning session is essential. More information and how to book can be found on the Silk River website.

Afternoon Session

A walk along the foreshore and into the picturesque town centre through the old, newly restored covered market and a visit to the truly spectacular Sikh temple, before boarding LV21, the lightship moored at the riverfront for an early evening spoken word performance.

Please book separately for the morning event if you would like to take part in the full 6 mile walk.

Please note, this walk is generally suitable for all. There are some steps and inclines that may cause difficulty e.g. Windmill Hill. The pace will be moderate to ensure the timetable is achieved.

Booking for the afternoon session is essential. More information and how to book can be found on the Silk River website.