Caught by the River

The Peculiar People at Focal Point Gallery

24th April 2016


A newly opened exhibition at Southend’s Focal Point Gallery reveals Essex as a place of imagined utopias.

Forming part of the year-long Radical Essex project, ‘The Peculiar People’ is an exhibition and event series which traces the history of ideological and social-political communal living experiments throughout the 20th Century to the present day. These include the pioneering industrial worker estates at East Tilbury and Silver End, as well as the many alternative ideological communities such as the Tolstoy-inspired anarcho-naturist colonies; each revealing Essex as a place traditional ways of living were challenged and revolutionary politics, art, architecture and literature were born and flourished.

Focal Point Gallery’s main exhibition space will feature an extensive archival display speculating on alternative living experiments from the late 1800s to the 1980s, alongside visual art, architecture, design and literature that relate to these counter-cultural histories.

Additionally, ‘The Peculiar People’ will be accompanied by a series of events, including a talk by Ken Worpole on the subject ‘The New Life in Essex: nonconformist life and culture in the 20th century’ on 12 May. Ken has written about the exhibition on his blog, The New English Landscape.

More info is available here, as well as via @FPGSouthend and @RadicalEssex on Twitter. Now might also be a good time to redraw your attention to 350 Miles: An Essex Journey – a collaboration between Ken Worpole and Jason Orton.