Windrush celebration coming at port

Taking shape - the docker looms over the puppet-making team in the Kinetika studio.

THE?clock is ticking down towards a landmark celebration of a major event in UK history.
On Friday, 22 June the Port of Tilbury will mark the 70th anniversary (to the day) of the arrival of the SS Empire Windrush by hosting a day of celebrations at the London Cruise Terminal where the passengers first stepped off the ship.
The Windrush70 celebrations are being funded by Thurrock Council, Tilbury on the Thames Trust, Tilbury Riverside Project, Heritage Lottery Fund and the Port of Tilbury. There is a morning service/thanksgiving from 11.30am until 1pm followed by a free community celebration between 1.30pm and 6pm.
One of the unique parts of the celebration will be the appearance of a four metre high puppet called the Tilbury Docker. Its design is based on the ideas of students from the South Essex College Costume Construction degree course and the Gateway Academy which were translated into reality by local arts company Kinetika working with artist Tony Mason.
He said: ‘We had a great day at Gateway Academy where we talked to students about the project which aims to celebrate Tilbury docks and its dockers.
“We heard about life in the docks from a veteran dock worker and looked at local history. We also brought a four metre skeleton puppet down and performed it to give an idea of the size and movement the Tilbury Docker puppet might have.
“We wanted our docker to represent both the tight community that he would be part of with the support and humour that it would bring, but also the goods and produce that have flowed into that community for so many years. We felt that he could also represent the cranes and lifting machinery which was so integral to dockers lives.”
Students have worked in a series of workshops, designing, patterning, screen-printing, and making the costumes for the puppet, honing the skills learnt on the course and gaining lots of new skills.
The designs on his trousers represent the celebration of Windrush’s arrival including newspaper headlines from the time, and on his waistcoat are images of the goods imported and exported through Tilbury Docks. These designs include suitcases, grain, bananas, wine and beer. Also featured on the waistcoat is the Port of Tilbury Logo and Tilbury FC’s emblem.
Stuart Wallace, Chairman of the Tilbury on the Thames Trust said: “People will certainly not miss the Tilbury Docker when he makes his debut appearance.
“We invite everyone to come along on the afternoon of 22 June to join in the celebrations.”
Kinetika is running a free workshop in screenprinting and sewing for adults to create a tablecloth to be used at a forthcoming Port Open Day. The workshop takes place at the Kinetika studio at the High House Production Park, Purfleet on Wednesday, 20 June from 10am. No experience is needed.
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