England's Creative Coast presents cultural adventure for 2020

The breathtaking coastal landscape of England’s South East is the setting and inspiration for England’s Creative Coast. A collaboration between the region’s world-class galleries and arts organisations led by Turner Contemporary and Visit Kent, this cultural tourism project features Waterfronts — seven new site-specific commissions by contemporary artists — and the world’s first art Geotour.

Towner Eastbourne, Bexhill-on-Sea’s De La Warr Pavilion, Hastings Contemporary, Creative Folkestone, Turner Contemporary in Margate, Cement Fields in Gravesend and Metal in Southend-on-Sea have joined forces for the first time to create a pioneering cultural adventure that stretches from the South Downs to the Thames Estuary.

This ground-breaking project, principally funded by Arts Council England and VisitEngland / VisitBritain through the Discover England Fund, encompasses:

• Waterfronts, curated by Tamsin Dillon – a series of seven new site-specific art commissions by Andreas Angelidakis, Mariana Castillo Deball, Holly Hendry, Jasleen Kaur, Katrina Palmer, Pilar Quinteros and Michael Rakowitz launching through 2020

• The world’s first art GeoTour using GPS-enabled geocaching technology to share the hidden stories and creative spirit of England’s South East coast, as told by local communities

• Art Homes, to be piloted in Margate during the 2019 Turner Prize, which invites visitors to stay in the homes of local artists

• Self-build itineraries that allow visitors to curate their own journeys, from cultural experiences to food, drink and accommodation offers

The stunning coastline of Sussex, Kent and Essex is home to some of the UK’s most distinctive galleries and art events. Over the past twenty years the region has witnessed a significant renaissance, driven by arts regeneration, that has expanded local economies by bringing new jobs, businesses and visitors to the coast while connecting the arts to daily life. With improved rail links such as Southeastern’s High Speed service, travel from London and moving from place to place along the coast has become easier and faster, bringing even more people to the area.

England’s Creative Coast builds on and celebrates this success, bringing together these coastal arts organisations for the first time in a project that connects art with the coastline to explore its ecology, history and future, and invites visitors to explore the region in a new way.

Sarah Dance, Director of England’s Creative Coast: “The creative vein that runs through the South East coast is unparalleled. Our exceptional galleries and arts organisations are helping to lead the transformation of our towns. By working with the local communities and international artists to create place-specific work and by putting arts and culture at the core of the tourism offer, England’s Creative Coast is creating a truly new visitor experience that will help us to celebrate and share the power that art has to transform places.”

Deirdre Wells OBE, CEO of Visit Kent: “England’s Creative Coast provides an exciting opportunity to showcase the cultural assets of Essex, Kent, East and West Sussex and to attract new visitors to the South East. The project offers inspiring itineraries encouraging visitors to travel further, stay longer and explore our cultural heritage in innovative ways. Whether it's exploring our wonderful galleries, spending time with and seeing an artist at work in their own home or taking part in our new Geo-caching experiences, this project will give our visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy great art, great food and great hospitality.”

Seaside towns are often seen as a barometer for the state of the nation and the coastline of the counties of East Sussex, Kent and Essex represents a strategic section of England’s border. So what does it mean for an artist to make a site-specific piece for this context at this moment in time?

England’s Creative Coast has appointed Tamsin Dillon to curate a series of seven specially commissioned artworks, collectively titled Waterfronts, each situated on and made in response to seven places along this coastline:

• Michael Rakowitz working with Turner Contemporary in Margate
• Mariana Castillo Deball working with Towner Eastbourne
• Holly Hendry working with the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-sea
• Andreas Angelidakis working with Hastings Contemporary
• Pilar Quinteros working with Creative Folkestone as part of Folkestone Triennial 2020
• Jasleen Kaur working with Cement Fields in Gravesend
• Katrina Palmer working with the Southend-based organisation, Metal

The artists will explore the border between the land and the waters, bringing their own knowledge, understanding and interests to reflect on the issues faced by these particular locations. The commissions will include sculpture, land drawing, painting, sound and video — all distinct works yet linked by the coastline, its people, history and future.

The first artwork will be launched in spring 2020 with Michael Rakowitz’s commission in Margate, with the others following sequentially over the summer.