Erith Public Art
How public art in Erith has reconnected the community with the River Thames.
The Erith Public Art Scheme was commissioned in 2004 as part of the regeneration of Erith Town Centre. The scheme has a water theme to reflect the town's location on the River Thames which has been key to the development and growth of Erith.
Artwork was inspired by the history of Erith from early settlement to riverside town, taking inspiration from the stories told by local people and the historic information and images provided by Bexley's Local Studies and Archives Centre, The Port of London Authority and Museum of London. As part of the scheme, artists ran a series of residencies and workshops working with over 450 members of the local community, local schools and youth groups.
Detailed below are some of the key art installations that form part of the scheme, whilst an 'Erith Art Trail' leaflet is available to download under 'Related Media'.
De Luci Pike – Gary Drostle
The De Luci Pike is a 7.5m mosaic sculpture located in the centre of the roundabout at the end of Bronze Age Way. The artwork was inspired by the former Erith Urban District Council's coat of arms that incorporated three pikes, the symbol of the powerful De Luci family (local landowners in medieval Erith). The Fish is intended to be a vibrant local landmark that marks one of the key gateways into Erith.
Earth Core Columns – Gary Drostle and Onya McCausland
This series of five sculptures were inspired by the archaeology and geology of Erith, and in particular the finds discovered during the construction of Bronze Age Way, next to which the art works are sited. The designs featured on each column include words and art-work created by children and young people, snapshots of their personal history as Erith residents and drawings of fossils and finds.
Atrium Court Water Sculpture – Sokari Douglas Camp CBE
This sculpture was inspired by the River Thames and sees hand forged coloured glass and metal that transforms when illuminated during the evening, complementing the modern design of the building on which it is located.
Stone Court Mosaic – Gary Drostle
The design for the mosaic frieze adjacent to the Cross Keys Public House has been taken directly from the pargetting (decorative plasterwork) featured above the pub's front balcony.
White Hart Thames Barge Mural – Gary Drostle
The former White Hart Pub shows a traditional Thames Barge approaching the Erith Shore at the end of the 19th Century. Once a typical feature unique to the Thames, barges are fondly remembered by local people as a symbol of the working river. The barge in the mural is identified as the "Chance", skippered by a local known as Robert 'The Devil' Austen. Erith was the first starting point of the annual Thames Barge race, first held in 1863.
Riverside Shopping Centre Gates – Onya McCausland
Erith Riverside shopping centre gates contain images taken from x-rays of items borrowed from shoppers visiting the centre, ranging from pens and lamps to glasses and socks. The abstract looking images are reproduced on blue and green colour background panels giving them the appearance of being under water.