100 flags fly at Thames Chase to celebrate the Land of the Fanns back to listing

Visitors to Thames Chase Forest Centre were treated to a beautiful spectacle on Sunday 30 August as 100 flags flew in the sunshine. The Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme displayed the colourful silk flags created with arts organisation Kinetika, which illustrate stories gathered from across the Land of the Fanns. The flags have been designed and painted by communities across the area with support from Kinetika artists

On 30 August, Kinetika worked with communities to involve them in the design the flags teaching them to draw bold illustrations that would work well with the batik method used to paint the flags. The flags were painted during lockdown by members of the community and Kinetika artists at the Kinetika studio in Purfleet on Thames. The Land of the Fanns spans the boroughs of Havering and Barking & Dagenham, Brentwood, Thurrock and into Essex. It is a landscape rich in history and hidden gems but often overlooked. Kinetika led walks and workshops across the area in 2019 and early 2020 to gather the local stories, common histories and memories that represent a people’s history and community map of the Land of the Fanns, revealing ghosts, local heroes and natural wonders. These were then translated into the designs for the flags.

The Land of the Fanns will celebrate all that is special and unique about the landscape of the area in the Tales of the Fanns, Walking and Arts festival, in May and June 2021, in collaboration again with Kinetika.

Benjamin Sanderson, Land of the Fanns Scheme Manager said “It was great to see the flags on display and the pride people had in their artwork. The project’s been a real team effort supported by superb artists from the local community, overcoming obstacles presented by lockdown. I would recommend anyone to find out more about the stories and flags on the Land of the Fanns website at www.landofthefanns.org/100-stories/”

Mary Wright, Trustee at Thames Chase Trust said “It was amazing to see the hundred flags fluttering in the breeze on the meadow of Thames Chase Forest Centre. It is a unique way of telling the stories of

this historic landscape covering the remaining east London fenland. The Land of the Fanns project has helped to bring the area of the Community Forest and beyond alive, further regenerating the landscape and its heritage for the 650,000 people who live in or close to its boundary. The flags and stories are a remarkable way for local communities to learn about and enjoy their local area.”

The five-year Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme brings together nine partner organisations with a commitment to work towards a shared goal of enabling local people to discover, restore and enjoy what’s special about the local landscape. Partners in the Scheme are Forestry England, Thames Estuary Partnership, Brentwood Borough Council, London Borough of Havering, Essex County Council, London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, Thames21 and Thurrock Council. Thames Chase Trust is the project’s lead partner. The Land of the Fanns base is in the Thames Chase Community Forest.

The flags were not the only artistic endeavour taking place at Thames Chase. It has just launched its 4th annual art exhibition celebrating 30 years of Thames Chase Community Artists. For the first time, the exhibition will be entirely virtual with a 3D gallery for visitors to enjoy, showcasing a wide selection of artworks by local artists, both amateur and professional, inspired by the Thames Chase Community Forest. The exhibition will run for an extended period, from August 26th to September 20th 2020, to allow all those unable to visit the centre to experience the art exhibition as it was originally intended. More information here: http://www.thameschase.org.uk/news-events/upcoming-events/thames-chase-annual-art-exhibition