click here for photos of the launch

CANVEY GUIDES WAS A PROJECT BY LUCY HARRISON WHICH TOOK PLACE BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 2006 AND MARCH 2007. It was part of 'Art U Need; An Outdoor Revolution', curated by Bob & Roberta Smith and included in the book 'Art U Need- My Part in the Public Art Revolution', published by Black Dog 2007.

Canvey Island, Essex, was once a popular tourist destination and many of its residents moved there from East London after having bought holiday bungalows. It is part of the Thames Gateway and its architecture and population may be transformed in the near future. This project aims to explore Canvey as a space of the imagination and to examine the reasons for people's emotional attachments to place, and the connections they make between memory, location and architecture. The work produced takes the form of tourist information but concentrates on the personal, arbitrary and anecdotal. It also aims to enable an exchange between long term residents and new arrivals, who feel there is often a distance between them, and has designated Canvey Heights Country Park as a place for dialogue between these groups. Click here for Dave Bullock's 360 degree panorama of Canvey Heights.

The project involved inviting Canvey residents to become 'tour guides' to the island, by choosing locations which they connected to a particular memory, and describing what they could of the event that took place there, however fragmentary or seemingly unimportant this was. Around 60 people were interviewed and pieces of writing, audio recordings and other material collected at people's houses, during walks around the island or over drinks.

Also during this time the Rendezvous Club was set up. This was a proposal that whoever came to the gates of Canvey Heights at 2pm on the first Sunday of the month was part of a walking club. Themes for the walks, along with maps and membership cards, were provided each month. New acquaintances were photographed together and sent copies of the photographs. A plaque at the meeting point for the club has been installed in the hope that this will become a lasting remnant of the project. A local estate agents will distribute invitations to the club to people moving to the island.

In February 2007 the information collected was collated into formats usually chosen for tourist information: a guidebook and an audio guide, and a map to be installed at Canvey Heights Country Park.

 

The guidebook was designed by Lucy Harrison and the cover painted by local signwriter Bob Gibbons. It is the first publication from Rendezvous Press, which has been set up as part of this project. It is A5, full colour with 80 pages plus a fold out map. It takes its name from 'Captivating Canvey', a guidebook produced on Canvey between 1927 and 1974. It will be available at many locations on Canvey and in London, and will be given to new arrivals by Fisks Estate Agents.

The audio guide includes spoken contributions from residents, with the main walk narrated by local actor Roy Blackwell. It is available for hire as an MP3 player from Canvey Library or as a free download from this website.
For the opening event, residents were invited to act as tour guides for groups of people, taking them on walks of their choice. The tour guides were given placards painted by Bob Gibbons which they used during the launch day and were given afterwards. A vintage open topped bus from the Castle Point Transport Museum drove up to Canvey Heights, after which there was a party in the unique location of the Canvey Club.

 

click here for photos of the launch

   

Canvey Guides is part of 'Art U Need: An Outdoor Revolution', curated by Bob & Roberta Smith.
The Thames Gateway South Essex Partnership, through the Investing in Communities (IiC) programme initiated ‘Art U Need’, which was funded by the East of England Development Agency and Arts Council England, East and managed by visual art agency Commissions East.