‘S for Southend’ is an inspiring new community exhibition taking place at Focal Point Gallery in January 2022. The exhibition will showcase artworks made by local residents and artists of all ages during our exhibition ‘Tip of the Iceberg’ and from this year’s Digifest, our annual celebration of digital arts.
The exhibition will include artworks developed by Stanford Lee Hope Primary School and Estuary High School made in workshops led by local artists Anna Lukala and Shaun C. Badham in response to works from our current exhibition ‘Tip of the Iceberg’. Innovative artworks produced this year by students in the Silver Arts Award, run by local artists Laurence Harding and Philippa Steward, includes sculptural pieces, photography, and film. Stop motion animation and music from sound recordings taken in Southend are just some of the works made in this year’s Digifest programme which will be on display.
‘S for Southend’ will have artworks on display produced by local community groups and charities, Southend Care’s Project 49 and Trust Links, alongside computer coded animated works by our Contemporary Elders group from South Essex Homes. The Contemporary Elder programme was set up pre-covid to challenge and liberate the term ‘elder’ from the stigma of ‘elderly’ and encourages us to embrace wisdom as a path to growing whole, not old.
Local Filmmaker Aaron Shrimpton’s film ‘S for Southend’ will be on display in Gallery 2. Commissioned by Historic England and produced by Focal Point Gallery in summer 2021, this film brings together voices, memories, and the inventive ideas of a local community in Southend-on-Sea. It investigates public consciousness around how we can learn to adapt and build a better future in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Exploring the importance for public space to be experienced and constructed collaboratively, the film examines subject the past and present condition of a high street in transition. Collaging together imagery of architecture, tracking shots and a series of creative responses from participants, the film is a collective vision for reimagining the future of Southend High Street.
There will also be a one-off film screening of ‘Poppets’ by Maz Murray on 10 February at 6.30pm. ‘Poppets’ is a surreal soap opera set in Basildon and the Estuary, following an Essex girl investigating malpractice in a local housing development, and two women who meet and fall in love on a night out at Bas Vegas. They are psychically linked to the story of two Plotlands women (as overshared to them by an old man in the smoking area) who visit their local witch to make a ‘poppet’.
In addition, on 12 February 2022, there will be a Creative Open Day at Focal Point Gallery. This photography workshop is open to all, based on the theme’s community, light and hope.
The exhibition will be on view for four weeks, giving the chance for anyone who took part, in any events or workshops, to return to the gallery with family and friends to see their masterpieces on display, and for other residents to celebrate their achievements.