Radical ESSEX




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Current Past




A Place of Sanctuary: Essex as a landscape for mental health and well-being

With its many land settlements and self-sufficient communities, Essex in the early twentieth century provided an escape from the poverty and mental distress of the slums of East London. From retreats such as Greenwood in Stock, The Othona Community at Bradwell and the work at Runwell Hospital, Essex has long been a home for new approaches to mental health and well-being – a tradition which continues to this day in the work of Trustlinks, Spiralseed and others.

Essex as a landscape for mental health and well-being will form the starting point for a panel discussion with Mandy Barber, Graham Burnett and Ken Worpole.

This event is free and all are welcome. To book your free ticket, please click here. 

Mandy Barber grows, researches, writes and lectures about perennial vegetables and useful edible plants. She founded ‘Incredible Vegetables’, an experimental vegetable growing project, plant research space and perennial vegetable nursery on the edge of Dartmoor. Originally from Essex, Mandy has recently spoken at events including Toby Buckland’s Garden Festival, the Edible Garden Show at Stoneleigh Park, the 2017 South West Permaculture Convergence in Exeter and numerous Transition Town events. She also teaches visiting horticulture students about edible perennial crops and has close ties with the charity ‘Plants for a Future’ contributing to their next publication on Edible Shrubs. She is also a member of the Guild of Oca Breeders, a citizen science project trialling Andean vegetable Oca (Oxalis Tuberosa) for cultivation in a Northern European growing environment, making a valuable contribution to the future diversity of food cultivation.

Graham Burnett teaches permaculture and works with projects and organizations including Comic Relief, Capital Growth, Bioregional, Naturewise, OrganicLea, Birmingham Decoy, Trust Links, Green Adventure, the Vegan Organic Network, Thrive, Ars Terra (Los Angeles), and Ekosense Ecovillage (Croatia), as well as a number of Transition Town initiatives. In addition to cultivating his own garden and allotments, Graham contributes to publications as diverse as Positive News, The Sunday Times, Permaculture Magazine, Permaculture Activist, New Leaves, The Raven, Growing Green, Funky Raw, The Vegan, and The Idler.

Ken Worpole is a writer and social historian, whose work includes many books on architecture, landscape and contemporary culture; and he is professor emeritus at London Metropolitan University. Recent publications include Modern Hospice Design (2009), The New English Landscape (with photographer James Orton, 2013), Contemporary Library Architecture (2013) and Radical Essex (2018).

Focal Point Gallery, Elmer Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, United Kingdom
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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: