Gravesend walk along the Thames
Gravesend walk along the Thames  ©



“I love the community feeling that this project brings, it crosses so many groups and combines different abilities, it’s fun too!” says one artist on the recent Silk River residency where a team of estuary-wide artists painted 10 x 6m silk scrolls at the Kinetika studios in Purfleet.

- Ali Pretty, Artistic Director, Kinetika

In September 2017,  we revealed stories of people who live and work on the river and the connections they have with communities along the Hooghly, West Bengal. 

Here a few of the things we discovered along the way.

What is the link between Kolkata and Kew?

Discover mahogany seeds in the economic botany collection, walk among Indian specimens in the Palm House, witness paintings of sacred plants by Marianne North. 

Follow the silk trail in Tower Hamlets - tracing footsteps of migrant silk weavers through grand houses in Fournier St, past traders in Brick Lane and on to the home of Indian seamen at Limehouse.

Through the eyes of a Bengal Lascar, explore life on board The Cutty Sark, one of the finest trading vessels that sailed between London and Calcutta. 

Did you know Barking Creek was once a busy industrial port? 

Stories of the fishing families are revealed meeting the boatmen who keep the river community alive today.

What draws creatives to Thurrock?

Reaching High House Production Park, think Tagore. Meet the Royal Opera House, the National College for Creative Industries and artists who’ve found a buzz outside East London. 

What happens on the other side? 

Landing just west of the Dartford Bridge, the one that looks just like the new one in Howrah, we arrive at Ruby Tuesday Avenue. Visit the ‘home’ of Mick Jagger, birthplace of The Rolling stones and Peter Blake. 

The world's shipping passes Gravesend's front door. The long-established industrial foreshore continues to be the site of paper mills that drew the Sikh community to settle and build the largest Gudwara in Europe here.  

"By Thames To All People of the World" - 

Tilbury is still a busy port. Hear stories before shipping containers, when tea arrived from India in chests, cargo was unloaded in wheelbarrows and rum came in barrels. 

Other People’s Shoes.

Tomas Bata had a vision, shoes for everyone. Beginning in Zlin,Czechoslovakia, he then set his sights on East Tilbury. Transforming potato fields into modernist Bata Estate in the 1930’s, this small community had its own cinema, swimming pool and surely Thurrock’s first Expresso bar. 

It’s a long way to Southend.

We carry all 20 scrolls through Leigh-on-Sea, this thousand-year-old community of fishermen gathering in numbers to process up the pier for a finale performance from Mudlark Choir and a parting moment sending our stories out into the ocean with a blessing from the Hindu Association for the scrolls’ safe passage from London to Kolkata.

*Silk River continued and culminated with a 10-day journey along the river Hooghly from 7-17 December, 2017.  



Discover the Port of Tilbury
Discover the Port of Tilbury ©


Painting UK Scrolls
Painting UK Scrolls ©


The residency with Indian artists at Murshidabad  ©

Mike Johnston 

Silk river 5
Indian artists at the residency in Murshidabad ©

Mike Johnston 

See also

External links