Shrimpers and Mudlarks

Shrimpers and Mudlarks is a new, exciting project in collaboration with long term collaborator Nicola Flower. Nicola suggested the idea over a year ago and we are finally bringing it to life!

Shrimpers and Mudlarks dominated Bawley Bay in Gravesend during the Victorian era. Shrimpers would catch brown shrimps in Bawley boats at tiny historic Bawley Bay and sell them at Gravesend market. This was a thriving industry from 18th Century up until 1965. During late 18th century and 19th century Mudlarkers scavenged in the river mud for items of value, by the 20th century the term ‘mudlark’ described urchins who would retrieve coins lost or tossed for amusement by tourists off Town Pier. Mudlarks would play football, wrestle and box out on the low tide in the Thames mud.

We are interested in uncovering the rich local history in the Bawley Bay area, which is largely forgotten and undocumented. Our aim is to work with local communities to collect stories that may have been passed through the generations. We will use these as the inspiration for our new work.

We are delighted to be working with LV21 again on this project. We absolutely loved working with Paivi and Gary from the ship during The Great Thames Disaster project, and excited to get back on board when lockdown is over.

Nicola and I have recently received a Gravesham Borough Council Make It Grant to support the research and development stage of Shrimpers and Mudlarks. The objective of the grant scheme is to engage local communities in arts activity during lockdown. We have been connecting with communities in the following ways:

  • Using Zoom to record short activity videos that are being sent to hundreds of primary school children in the area via LV21’s Think Up Programme.
  • Using Zoom to create sensory videos for Nursery age children.
  • Contacting care homes and sheltered living accommodation in the area to collect stories from the older generation.

Our aim is to continue to engage with these groups as we develop the project after lockdown.

Nicola and I have really valued the opportunity to continue developing our collaborative practice in Lockdown and are enjoying the challenges of working digitally!




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