Radical ESSEX




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Radical ESSEX with Gillian Darley and Ken Worpole

An often maligned county, Essex’s recent history has been the subject of many stereotypes. A new book, Radical Essex, seeks to tell another story, exploring the dynamic relationship between London’s East End and radical experiments in living, whether in rural enclaves or on the desolate marshes. This is a story of socialist and anarchist land colonies, Christian and Tolstoyan retreats, and the county as the home of modernist architecture in Britain and model industrial communities. Two of the book’s authors, Gillian Darley & Ken Worpole, discuss the many utopian experiments in living to be re-discovered in the county’s radical history, now too often forgotten.

Gillian Darley is a widely published writer and broadcaster. Her publications include Villages of Vision (1975/2007), John Soane (1999), John Evelyn (2006), Octavia Hill (2010) and Ian Nairn: Words in Place with David McKie (2013). She is President of the Twentieth-Century Society.

Ken Worpole is the author of books on architecture, landscape and public policy, including two collaborations with photographer Jason Orton on the social history and landscape of coastal Essex: 350 Miles & The New English Landscape. His most recent book is New Jerusalem: The Good City and the Good Society (2017). A long-term resident in Hackney, he was described by The Independent as ‘one of the shrewdest and sharpest observers of the English social landscape.’

Pages of Hackney

Pages of Hackney
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Radical Essex is a project re-examining the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. A programme of events will take place across Essex throughout 2016 and 2017, shedding light on the vibrant, pioneering thinking of the late 19th and 20th centuries. The project will celebrate the crucial role Essex has played in the history of British Modernism and its utopian ideologies under the themes ‘The Modernist County’ and ‘Arcadia for All’.

The Radical Essex site is designed by Fraser Muggeridge studio and Alex Rich, developed by Twelve.

Radical Essex is led by Focal Point Gallery in collaboration with Visit Essex and Firstsite. Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England it forms part of the country wide Cultural Destinations programme, a partnership with VisitEngland, supporting arts organisations to work with the tourism sector to deliver projects that maximise the impact culture has on local economies.

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If you are a business or arts organisation interested to be involved in the project or learn more information, please contact us here

We gratefully acknowledge the support of our project partners: