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Myths of Essex: Essex Writers House
June 28 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pmFree
Myths of Essex
Essex boys, witchcraft, forgotten histories and a home like no other…
An evening at Chalkwell Hall with four brilliant writers, artists and activists, each with a unique knowledge of Essex and the stories it holds.
Join our guests as we delve into the myths, legends and curious histories of our notorious county.
- Journalist and writer of The Invention of Essex, Tim Burrows
- Artist and activist Elsa James, who premiered major solo exhibition ‘Othered in a region that has been historically Othered’
- Royal Literary Fund Fellow Syd Moore, author of the Essex Witch Museum Mysteries
- Writer, storyteller and creator of Talliston House & Gardens, John Tarrow
Free to attend, this panel talk will explore past and present bodies of work, with time for a Q&A and conversations with our guest speakers.
Books will also be available to purchase on the night, supplied by local independent bookshop, Jacqson Diego Story Emporium.
About the guests
Tim Burrows is a journalist, who has written about society, culture and place for the Guardian, New Statesman, Vice, the Daily Telegraph, Dazed & Confused, the Quietus and Somesuch Stories, among others. A recurring subject in his work is Essex and the Thames Estuary. His Guardian longread ‘The Invention of Essex’ was published to widespread acclaim. He lives in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Tim joined Metal as a Writer in Residence during Essex Writers House 2021.
This month marks the release of The Invention of Essex, published by Profile Books. Deeply researched and thoroughly engaging, The Invention of Essex shows that there is more to this fabled English county than meets the eye. A Financial Times ‘Book to Read in 2023’
Elsa James is a British African-Caribbean conceptual artist and activist living in Essex since 1999. She works across live performance, film (in which she also performs), text in digital formats and silkscreen prints on paper, spoken word poetry, and, more recently, large-scale neon text and sound. Since 2018 she has pursued an incisive exploration into the historical, temporal and spatial dimensions of what it means to be Black in Essex—building critically on Gillian Darley’s assertion of Essex as ‘England’s most misunderstood county’. Her current artistic research —shifting away from Essex as a location and subject matter—focuses on the British Empire and the profundity of transatlantic slavery, diaspora and belonging, which she draws from the influential 2018 speech by the MP David Lammy in response to the Windrush scandal.
In 2021, she was a finalist for the prestigious Freelands Award with Focal Point Gallery and, this year, a nominated recipient of the Henry Moore Foundation Artists Award. Her work is held in private and public collections, including the Government Art Collection and Beecroft Art Gallery, for which she became the first female Black British artist to be acquired into the gallery’s permanent collection. In 2022, she was named one of the 50 Most Influential People in Essex.
In 2020, Elsa James joined Metal as a Remote Artist in Residence.
Elsa’s recent project, Forgotten Black Essex, led to the install of two new Blue Plaques in Essex which mark Hester Woodley and Princess Dinubolu. These are the first Blue Plaques which celebrate historic women of colour in the county.
Syd Moore is currently the first Author in Residence for Essex Libraries.
Best known for her Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination, Strange Tombs, Strange Tricks) which were shortlisted for the Good Reader Holmes and Watson Award 2018 she has also written short stories – The Twelve Strange Days of Christmas (2019) and The Twelve Even Stranger Days of Christmas (2020) both of which were shortlisted for the prestigious ‘dagger awards’ by the Crime Writers Association. Harper Collins have published two standalone novels, The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt which became a bestseller. The first book in a new series, Section W, will be published by Oneworld in May 2021.
In 2019 Moore became a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. For nine years prior to writing she was a lecturer and worked extensively in the publishing industry. In the 90s she presented Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She is the founder of The Essex Girls Liberation Front and, in 2020, was successful in campaigning to have the derogatory definition of the ‘Essex Girl’ removed from the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary.
John Tarrow is a storyteller, poet, shaman, award-winning author and creator of Britain’s most extraordinary home; Talliston House & Gardens. Talliston was a 25-year project that took the UK’s most ordinary house and transformed it, room by room, by ordinary people on an ordinary budget, into Britain’s Most Extraordinary Home.
Starting as a three-bedroomed, semi-detached, ex-council house in Essex, today not a single square centimetre of the original house remains. In its place is an extraordinary labyrinth of locations, each set in different times and places.
Talliston is a once ordinary house and gardens in Essex where its thirteen rooms have been transformed into extraordinary locations each set in a different time and place. Magnolia living rooms have been recreated as Welsh watchtowers. Garages as log cabins in the woods. Box-rooms as 1920s investigator offices. A former pink bedroom is now a dark and haunted Scottish chamber. Talliston – a name that means ‘the hidden place in the wood’ – in the medieval market town of Great Dunmow, just minutes from Stansted airport, is another world hiding on a perfectly normal street, inviting you to step inside and discover its secrets.