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A coastline that showcases the best of British arts, culture and creative industry. Where will you visit on England's Creative Coast? Share your trip with #CreativeCoast

Seaside towns thriving with creativity, breathtaking coastal landscape and some of the most thought-provoking contemporary art being produced today – England’s Creative Coast spans 1400km of shoreline from the South Downs to the Thames Estuary.

This beautiful and dramatic landscape has inspired artists for centuries and in 2020, seven new site-specific artworks by seven international contemporary artists – Andreas Angelidakis, Mariana Castillo Deball, Holly Hendry, Jasleen Kaur, Katrina Palmer, Pilar Quinteros and Michael Rakowitz – will connect the coastline of Essex, Kent and East Sussex and the world-class arts organisations in these places.

The Waterfronts series of artworks will be set in the landscape of Margate, Folkestone, Hastings, Bexhill-on-Sea, Eastbourne, Gravesend and Southend-on-Sea. Launching in spring 2020, these temporary works will open sequentially over the summer and be on display until late autumn.

Taking the border between land and water as their inspiration, each artist will respond to these unique coastal locations, focusing on issues, stories and questions related to the area to offer fresh perspectives on each place.

De La Warr Pavilion is working with Holly Hendry (Lives and works in London) to create an artwork for Bexhill-on-Sea.

England’s Creative Coast is led by Turner Contemporary and Visit Kent and encompasses a whole cultural travel experience. Through the world’s first art Geotour, you will be able to game as you move through the landscape, discovering the commissioned artworks, collecting geocaching rewards and hidden gems along the way.

To plan your trip to see these time-limited artworks you can curate your own journey using the England’s Creative Coast itinerary website and find further cultural adventures across Essex and West Sussex. Visit the website here.

Kent

Kent boasts 350km of stunning coastline, with sandy beaches and chalk white cliffs, and is home to some of the UK’s most exciting cultural hotspots. The world-class Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate celebrates JMW Turner’s spirit of enquiry with a revolving programme of exhibitions showcasing contemporary and historic art, and is host to Turner Prize 2019, one of the best-known arts prizes in the world. The gallery is free to enter and overlooks the North Sea and “the loveliest skies in all Europe”, as proclaimed by Turner himself. In North Kent, along the Thames Estuary from Dartford to Whitstable, experience outstanding new art through festivals and events brought together by the arts organisation Cement Fields. The company stages Whitstable Biennale, an event taking place every two years in this beautiful seaside town famous for its oysters. The festival brings the town alive with performances and film screenings in unusual venues and has an international reputation for showcasing the UK’s most exciting up and coming artists. In 2020, Cement Fields brings the Estuary festival to North Kent – a festival celebrating 60 miles of coastline across South Essex and North Kent including art, music, literature and film, with Metal in Southend.

Nestled on the English Channel is Creative Folkestone, where you’ll find historic buildings that have been turned into artist studios and galleries, independent shops, and cafes.You can also find a trail of outdoor Artworks to follow, created by some of the world’s most acclaimed living artists, and Folkestone Triennial, one of the biggest outdoor visual art exhibitions in the UK, which returns in 2020. Along the River Medway, the Historic Dockyard Chatham celebrates 400 years of maritime heritage as one of the most important places for ship-building during the ‘age of sail’.

 

Image credit: Folkestone Artworks, Visit Kent
Creaking breeze trio-slack tide fulcrum, 2018. Photo Rosie Lonsdale.
East Sussex

Sussex and the beautiful South Downs has inspired artists for centuries, from John Constable and William Blake to Eric Ravilious. On the tip of the South East coast near to Beachy Head sits Eastbourne, home to the award-winning Towner Eastbourne with three floors of galleries showcasing modern and contemporary art, including a wide range of works from Towner’s own Collection. Towner also presents a year-round programme of cinema, live performances and special events.

Further along the coast you’ll find the tranquil resort of Bexhill-on-Sea, which emits the essence of Edwardian seaside elegance and houses the iconic De La Warr Pavilion. The Pavilion is a signature of modernist architectural design, presenting exhibitions of contemporary and 20th century British art, live performances, film and outdoor events. A trip further east will take you to Hastings, a cosmopolitan coastal town steeped in history and home to Hastings Contemporary gallery of modern and contemporary art. Formerly the Jerwood Gallery, this exciting new independent gallery has re-opened to the public, bringing an inspiring programme of events and exhibitions to discover, all championing modern and contemporary art in an international context. The gallery is situated just a few steps from the beach, and close to the Old Town where you can discover on artist studios, galleries and antiques.

All three galleries form the Coastal Culture Trail to be travelled by bike, train or car.

Image Credit: De La Warr Pavilion. Photo VisitEngland.
Birling Gap
West Sussex

Further inland in Chichester and the surrounds, explore Pallant House Gallery’s collection of British Modern Art, find over 50 sculptures in 26 acres of woodland at Cass Sculpture Foundation, and take in the awe of Arundel Castle, with its beautiful gardens and exquisite architecture

Pallant House Gallery (c) Chris Ison 2018
Jake and Dinos Chapman, The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth but not the Mineral Rights, 2007 © Cass Sculpture Foundation.
Essex

Rich in sites and scenery, Essex has a creative and coastal surprise waiting for you at every corner. Its diverse coastline features tidal inlets, estuarine islands and lonely saltmarshes showcasing its wild beauty and rich wildlife. In Southend-on-Sea, experience the world’s first digital art park, NetPark. Be immersed in the outdoors with 15 outdoor digital artworks and enjoy year-round events hosted by the art organisation Metal, including Village Green festival and Estuary 2020 in partnership with Cement Fields.

 

Explore 25 hectares of nature and wildlife at Gunners Park in Shoeburyness and the largest landmark conversation site in Europe, RSPB Wallasea Island, a wildlife haven and where ancient wetland landscape of mudflats and saltmarsh, lagoons and pasture are recreated. Steeped in history, it was at Paglesham in Rochford that HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin’s vessel, found her last resting place and will be celebrated with a series of events in May 2020 at Wallasea and continues throughout the area, to mark 200th anniversary of the Beagle’s first launch. This trail-blazing vessel is synonymous with discovery in the fields of science, meteorology and even space exploration. The 86ft historical landmark, The Naze Tower, is situated in the charmingly traditional seaside town of Walton-on-the-Naze, offers a 360-degree panoramic view of coastal Essex and houses both a museum and art gallery. At Jaywick, the Martello Tower – once a coastal fort and now an arts and community venue – has been inspiring artists since 2005, including Gavin Turk, Nathan Coley and Rob Ollins. In 2019, artists Close and Remote (Sophie Mellor and Simon Poulter) have used watercolours, sound and virtual reality to create Days Like These, which explores the beauty of Jaywick Sands.

Metal NetPark, Southend
Matthew Mallet Clacton Airshow