12-day walking arts festival aims to bring Thurrock, and the country, together


SOMETHING rather magical, of national significance, is taking shape in the south east of England…Essex in fact.

Actually, it’s in a corner of Essex, namely Thurrock, where community spirit is shining bright among all the doom and gloom brought about by the ongoing pandemic.

The 6th annual T100 ‘walking, talking and making’ 12-day festival, T100 Calling, has been put together by Purfleet-On-Thames -based internationally renowned arts company, Kinetika. This year, the festival, T100 Calling, is focusing on mandalas. It is about to go full steam ahead, and families among the Thurrock community are bracing themselves to get onboard. And it’s hoped their energy will inspire and unite households across the entire country.

The ‘new normal’ we are all getting used to will not hamper this drive, to the contrary, it will enhance it, galvanize it.

The festival will kick-off on September 12, with a series of workshops and walks each focusing on different, important community issues, including plastic pollution and food sustainability. The focus will shift sharply to the town of Grays when it embraces a spring clean with a difference on Saturday, September 19.

Along with the help of eco-friendly warriors, Thames 21, a band of volunteers determined to protect the local environment and clean up the Thames, have been fishing out plastic bottles from the estuary since last October. These bottles will be shaped and transformed into various mandalas, which families in Thurrock can craft within their own homes.

It will give families the opportunity to make something spiritual in their own backyards, a sacred space which will aid meditation and propel this unique community project forward. It will also get the community involved in social action projects to help their neighbours and clean-up their neighbourhoods, like litter-picking collections for mandala materials.

Special workshops will be laid on to guide families through how they create their own mandala, and be part of this ever-growing international movement.

We’re inviting journalists to get involved with this groundbreaking project and see for themselves the potential by coming down to Grays on September 19.

And for those residents wanting to get involved in the art of mandala making, there is a link attached to tell you all you need to know about how to transform unwanted, old, everyday materials – from worn shoes to slabs of concrete, used bricks, etc. – into something special, with spiritual significance.

Ali Pretty, artistic director at Kinetika, couldn’t be more excited about the potential of this year’s festival.

She said: “It’s so important to focus on the optimism being generated by T100 Calling, especially in a time of national crisis like this.

“People are realising, and have realised now, the importance of community and are being inspired to take part in significant local movements, such as this T100 Calling.

“We’ve all had to adapt to a ‘new normal‘, and this in fact makes the whole event more powerful than ever before. We are not going back to the ‘old normal’, instead we’re all becoming more involved in our communities, making a difference to protect our environments while embracing an exciting ‘new normal’ which presents a unique opportunity to make a real difference to the way we choose to live in future.

“We are genuinely so excited about the volume of people who can get on board with this, it’ll turn something old and used by families (everyday materials) into something new and magical (mandalas).”

This year’s festival is partly drawing on the inspiration of the Thurrock CVS’s hugely successful OurRoad volunteer-driven movement which ignited the Thurrock community during lockdown.

Postcards were made available to EVERY SINGLE household in the borough in an incredible effort to bring people together, as they have never been before.

Residents exchanged postcards, Facebook messages, phone numbers, then formed friendships and shared problems…It got neighbours talking, people looking out for each other, communicating in an intimate community-led way echoing how life used to be when people genuinely made time for each other.

It’s hoped this year’s T100 Calling will be every bit as sparkling, building on a movement that started in Thurrock, and now aims to engage people from across the whole country in an artistic movement creating harmony, through change and togetherness – and some wonderful pieces of art too!

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