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Estuary Festival
22nd May to 13th June 2021

PLOT: Water Laid is a new body of work I have produced as part of Estuary Festival located at Wat Tyler Country Park. The work explores the history of water wells within the surrounding area through research into recorded and unrecorded local water wells, a series of geographical map paintings, a mobile sculptural wishing well on wheels and group conversations with locals included, Deanna Walker, Ken Porter, David Richards and Mary Saunderson. The project looks at 137 years of local history (1848-1985) through the use of wells.  Rich records that analyse the quality of water, ground, soil and usage, everything ranging from the British Explosive Syndicate well in Wat Tyler to the medicinal wells of Edwin Cash in Vange and much in-between. There has been a long standing folklore tradition that springs and wells were sacred places as water was initially thought to have healing powers, so many people would drink it, bathe in it or wish over it. This is evidenced by Mr Cash who got the water from his well (Vange Well no5), tested for medicinal purposes, and was later sold in local pharmacies. Mr Cash valued his magical water so much he built a Grecian style temple around the well, which still stands today in half ruin. This gesture seems comparable to the idea of wishing wells in that people would make a wish and toss a coin into a well. That wish would then be granted depending on how it landed at the bottom – heads it would be granted, tails the wish would be ignored. This ‘performative’ work for Estuary 2021 shares these stories and research, whilst inspiring new conversations about our most precious resource, water.























































Throughout the PLOT project the symbol of the water well has reoccurred, and I think this can be traced back to 2016 when Nina Humphrey showed me the remnants of her own plotland water wells in Victoria Park in Laindon. Though the shrubbery has slowly reclaimed Nina’s family plotland wells it was still traceable to her and Colin (Nina’s husband). It is a relic that is both deeply personal to Nina but also interconnected to the wider plotland history, as many plotlanders had none or very little mains services such as water, electricity or sewage. Many plotlanders relied on water wells or standpipes to survive and the decision not to connect the plotlanders to mains services was certainly a political and strategic act by the local authority at the time. This could be seen as an early act of managed decline, which subsequently laid the groundwork for the area to be designated as a new town in 1949.

In early 2020 I was invited by Metal to be a remote (covid) artist in residence at Wat Tyler Country Park in Basildon as part of Estuary Festival. For the festival I have been exploring the vast history of water wells within the Borough and their relation to local politics, displacement, diy living, folklore, geology and of course the local plotland community.

My research has taken me both overground and underground enabling me to research, data, surveys, histories and personal anecdotes surrounding waters wells in the Basildon Borough. Initially I spent time researching recorded water wells using geological survey maps to pinpoint the locations of historically prominent water wells. By taking the depth of each well I was able to imagine the crossovers and interactions taking place underground. Below are a series of Geographical Map Paintings which will feature as part of the Estuary Festival 2021.



Geographical Map Painting; Basildon. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.





Geographical Map Painting; Billericay. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.




Geographical Map Painting; Great Berry. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.






Geographical Map Painting; Langdon Hills. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.



Geographical Map Painting; Lee Chapel. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.






Geographical Map Painting; North Benfleet. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.




Geographical Map Painting; Oozedam. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.





Geographical Map Painting; Stanford Le Hope. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.




Geographical Map Painting; Wat Tyler. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.




Geographical Map Painting; Wat Tyler. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.







Geographical Map Painting; Wickford. Series of 10. Dittany Emulsion part of the harvest collection on 230gsm Matt coated paper. 29.7 x 42 cm.









Caraboo Projects, in Bristol run a fantastic series of podcasts called Loops, and I was chuffed to have been invited to create an episode to further explore my ongoing research around the Plotlanders. You can listen to the episode here

In this episode I was able to continue my exploration into the DIY community, The Plotlanders who resided in my hometown of Basildon, Essex and what they’re story can tell us about current issues of land ownership, the self-build movement, and artist projects that re-address our relationship with land, agriculture and each other.

To get a better idea of who the Plotlanders were we spoke with local historian Ken Porter, and author Deanna Walker who has written two books all about her family's life as weekend plotlanders between the 1950s and early 1980s, artist Georgia Gendall about her project Residency in a Shed on her allotment in Cornwall, and Grizedale Arts who centre collaborative production and functional art in the Lake District. We also spoke with architect Bart De Hartog about new types of self-building in Holland and artist Julia Heslop about issues around land ownership in the UK and a self-build project - Protohome with the homeless charity Crisis.

Contributors & Credits
Thanks so much to our incredible contributors:
Ken Porter – www.basildonheritage.org.uk + www.laindonhistory.org.uk/
Deanna Walker – www1.essex.ac.uk/news/event.aspx?e_id=6049
Georgia Grendall – www.georgiagendall.co.uk/
Bart de Hartog – http://www.bartdehartog.nl/ + https://zooofthefuture.com/
Adam Sutherland – www.grizedale.org/
Julia Heslop – www.juliaheslop.com/



In September 2016 I worked with Nina Humphrey on a memory walk around the North part of Victoria Park, the area she lived as a plotland child. As part of that walk we temporarily installed a road sign titled Alexandra Road.

During Nina's tour in Victoria Park she outlined that today you can still find remnants from the Plotland period. There are two wells now located in shrubbery, one was initially outside the kitchen of ‘The Retreat’ and the other was in the back garden of Pendennis. In the north west part of the park, as you head to Ford Dunton Technical Centre, you can find an old post which dates back to 1920. This post was part of the Farm House gate that was the entrance to the Richards Family dairy farm that was operational between 1919 to 1940s.

Nina and I spoke many times about permanently installing the road sign and creating an information lectern to highlight the plotland history in the park. In 2020 Essex Heritage agreed to fund the project and in June the lectern and road sign was installed. We will aim to host a mini reveal event later in the year.







This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020

This Plot is Not for Sale takes its starting point from trying to understand the future of what could be classified as the last plotland sites in Basildon. When Basildon was designated as a new town, the basildon development corporation (BDC) acquired large quantities of land for the New Town.

This land included agricultural land and Plotland land. Due to the scattering of the plotland community, some plotlanders were able to architecturally decieve BDC by visually modernising there wooden bungalows through pebble dashing. Some plotland communities were in flood risk areas which also detered BDC from acquriing there land. Therefore a few pockets of plotlanders remained but over the last 70s years propertieis have changed hands and been sold on. Though at heart these areas would still be clasified as plotland sites.

In 2017 Basildon Council constructed the document: Basildon Borough Plotland Study 2017; June 2017 Update.

The Objectives of the study are expanded on as follows:
4.1. The Core Strategy Revised Preferred Options Report 2013 indicated that the Council would seek to permit limited development within the 13 plotland areas in Basildon Borough in order to improve their character and visual amenity. Draft Core Policy 1 indicated that this would provide capacity for around 375 homes in the period from 2011 to 2031. Draft Core Policy 11 indicated that development would be permitted on infill plots and corner plots with an existing road frontage subject to consideration of the character of the local area. However, this policy approach was not informed by a detailed appraisal of their capacity to accommodate growth. The purpose of this study is to provide the evidence needed to support (or not) additional development within the plotlands, to identify any criteria that should be attached to such development, and to inform a more robust assessment of the capacity of the plotlands to accommodate housing growth. The outcomes of this study will inform the review of the boundary designations of plotlands for planning purposes on the New Local Plan’s Polices Map and associated policies within the New Local Plan.

The aforementioned 13 plotlands site stated are:
Fobbing (also referred locally as Crooked Brook)
Bells Hill Road/Hawkesbury Bush Lane
Stormonts Way, Langdon Hills Plotland
Northlands, Langdon Hills Plotland
Green Lane, Little Burstead
Broomhills Chase, Little Burstead
Break Egg Hill, Billericay
Crays Hill
Newhouse Farm and Castledon Road, Wickford
Ramsden View Road, Wickford
Fairmead, Wickford
Wickford Lawns, Shotgate
North Benfleet

The objectives of the study are expanded on as follows:
4.2 The objectives of this study are therefore defined as follows:
1) To redefine the boundaries of the plotland designations on the Policies Map in order to prevent piecemeal development on outlying land which would be harmful to the character of the Green Belt or the purposes of including land within the Green Belt.
2) To identify those plotland areas where additional infill development could potentially occur without causing harm to:
a. The character of the plotland area; or
b. To the openness of the Green Belt or the purposes of including
land within it.
3) Identify the scale of development that may be appropriate in each of the
plotland areas where additional development could potentially occur, taking into account constraints, without causing harm to the character of the plotland area, the openness of the Green Belt or the character of the wider landscape.
4) Identify design criteria that should be applied in those plotland areas where development may be permitted.
5) Provide a robust estimation of the housing capacity of each plotland areas.


Four months later a subsequent document was released titled: Plotland Topic Paper; October 2017

During this period of research, I have been thinking more about the role of land ownership not just in Basildon but also within wider communities in the UK. I am exploring the idea of creating a series of site specific signs in collaboration with local communities who may be at jeopardy of losing land. The signs will stand tall and read This Plot is Not for Sale

During this period of research I have been looking at signage in natural landscapes, and inserting the title This Plot is Not for Sale. This series of digital images currently have no geographical connection to the 13 Basildon Plotlands sites previously stated. These prints initially acts as a proposal for future site specific signs, while sitting somewhere between hesitation and suspicion.


This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020



This Plot is Not for Sale, Digital Print, Xativa / Matt Coated / 230gsm / Neutral White. 42.0 x 59.4cm. 2020