Breaking Waves: A living archive of Thames Ward through the lens of The Great Flood 1953-2023

Breaking Waves: A living archive of Thames Ward through the lens of The Great Flood 1953-2023A series of free events and creative activities

Often considered the worst natural disaster Britain experienced during the 20th century, the Great Flood of 1953 saw widespread flooding and devastation across East England. Coinciding with the 70th anniversary of the flood, this ambitious project highlights the inextricable, and sometimes uncomfortable, link between our industrial heritage and effects of climate change.

Supported by the National Heritage Lottery Fund, Breaking Waves will include new commissions, co-designing opportunities for residents, local filmmakers, after-school workshops and masterclasses, open air painting classes, bird watching, mudlarking sessions and more. In addition, disappearing histories of life in Thames Ward will be documented with oral histories experts, residents and creative practitioners, giving a voice to those traditionally excluded from historical records. 

The project spotlights the history and fate of Creekmouth village in the wake of the flood, erasing 55 Victorian houses and a church built for chemical plant workers. Fast-forward 70 years, the area is once again under huge transformation.. Power stations have been demolished to make way for East London’s largest housing development. Pollution from plants is replaced by dust from construction work. Displacement and migration is no longer confined to people, but its impact is felt on wildlife and natural heritage. Consequently, Breaking Waves adopts a unique approach, placing equal value to ‘voices’ of non-human life, lived experience of longtime residents and newcomers to the area.

Upcoming Events:

Art After School
Alternate Tuesdays throughout autumn term
Free, book now

Outdoor Painting Class with Precious Opara
Saturday 7 October, 1-3pm, Chase Nature Reserve
Free, book now

Outdoor Painting Class with Miro Tomarkin
Saturday 28 October, 1-3pm, Eastbrookend Country Park
Free, book now

Past Events:

Outdoor screening: Catherine Yass, Flood Barrier
Friday 22 September, 7.30pm

Breaking Waves was commissioned by Create London and made possible with the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with additional support from Arts Council England and Art Fund.