Thames estuary landscape

Soundings From The Estuary is an ongoing project that is inspired by the Thames Estuary's industrial, architectural, and maritime past as well as the present threat to the existing terrain, from global warming and the expansion of London eastwards. The project since 2005 has incorporated the collecting of sound using ambient and spoken word pieces, photographs and video.

A published book of this project is available from September 2014, comprising of 32 colour photographs with an accompanying essay by the writer, journalist and film-maker Jonathan Meades. See information page.

Since the inception of the project the Thames Estuary has become the focus of Londonís search for more air space and the prospect of another London Airport. The debate as to whether the Estuary is a suitable site embraces a range of interested parties from air traffic control to the protection of migrant bird life. Much of the Estuary is perceived as a brown field site lacking the traditional attributes of the picturesque. Prominent features include landfill sites, prisons, oil refineries and industrial debris left scattered along the riverís foreshore, amongst which also lie industrial and military ruins. Yet despite its blighted public image, the Thames estuary does have a sense of place, albeit one that is dependent on the importance of the river itself and its relation to the history of the growth of London as a city. As Londonís urban sprawl extends eastwards, the estuary is now perceived as a potential space for building new towns and another London airport. However, this scenario conflicts with predictions of rising sea levels from global warming that would subject much of the low lying marshland of the area to flooding. The Thames Estuary is a contested landscape, with both naturalists and environmentalists seeking to preserve the existing terrain from the threats posed to its future.

The artists Frank Watson and Germander Speedwell have produced work that evokes an overlooked and disappearing landscape that is unique if not melancholic and deserves protection and conservation.