Have you walked from Colchester out towards the Hythe of late? Or how about continuing your journey, either along the Wivenhoe Trail, or on the other side of the muddy banks of the Colne and with Rowhedge on your radar?
Notice any art?
That could soon be about to change.
A Town to Port project has just started up with the aim of encouraging residents of Sunny Colch to go and explore the forgotten side of town either on foot or by bicycle. The immediate aim is for an art trail to help gain interest in the Hythe. The wider picture is one of regeneration and identity.
We had no hesitation in heading out towards the Hythe – via bicycle – to meet up with Juliet Quintero, one of the partners of the dp-q architectural practice, the organsiation that is planning to work with the community on the Town to Port project.
“This is a project that has received European funding from Transcoast. Colchester Borough Council is administering the management of the money, and we were approached to pitch for ideas. We are a group of architects that work within the public realm. We aren’t so much focussed on buildings, but we have more of an interest in the changing the environment through democratic architecture.”
It is incredibly early days for the Town to Port project, but already an informal drop in session is planned for 27th October. Any residents of the Hythe are encouraged to have a chat with Juliet and her colleagues at the Hythe Community Centre between 10am – 4pm. Proposals will be able to be pitched, and hopefully feedback will come from the community.
And so what can locals expect to gain from Town to Port?
“Our brief is to connect Colchester with the Hythe, but also to think about the other direction as well with Wivenhoe and Rowhedge. We want to help to make the Hythe a destination place where people go for a walk or a bike ride. This will hopefully help to strengthen the identity of the Hythe, attract new people into the area and ultimately be the first step towards regeneration.”
The medium for all of this will be an art trail. dp-q is looking to collaborate with local groups on setting a series of outdoor art installations that will lead a trail from Sunny Colch out east.
“The theme that we want to promote is one of discovery. Once you come across one item of art, you are then prompted to seek out another. This is all about maximising under-used spaces in the community.”
Mapping is an important part of this project. An online collaborative map has already been published. Physical copies are available from the Hythe Community Centre and have been distributed through local schools. The idea is for residents to pinpoint on the map some of the areas that they would like to see appear on the Town to Port trail.
“The consultation with the community is incredibly important. We want to help to connect people and places from around the Hythe. We are hoping to end the project with a Hythe Festival sometime in 2013. We are very open to ideas at the moment and would welcome any suggestions.”
There shouldn’t be any shortage of takers. You only have to look down towards the waterfront and the creative output that is the Buffalo Tank down by the muddy banks. Add in the interest in the Moors area from the likes of @WalkColchester, plus the growing artistic community actually living on the river out towards Haven Road, and you can soon see how a Hythe art trail should take off.
Connections have already been made with the Hythe Forward group, as well as plans to contact may others around the area that are optimistic about a community led regeneration of the Hythe.
Which brings us back to the Hythe Community Centre on the 27th October and the chance to participate and shape the Town to Port project. If you can walk it or cycle it to Ventura Drive a week on Saturday then the spirit of Town to Port is halfway there.
Take a look around you and make the connections – both personal and geographical. Joining up the journey is what helps to make a strong community.