Karen lois Whiteread
Artist in residence at The Martello Tower arts centre in Jaywick

Over several years I have worked on Film and Photographic projects with a number of very diverse communities. With family roots in Essex and East London, working with and amongst the people of Jaywick presented an exciting opportunity for me.

'Jaywick Rocks' was a project that set out to capture the spirit of a very special community. It was however one which would not have been possible without the active and enthusiastic participation of the people themselves - its residents and its regular summer-time visitors.

I spent the summer of 2006 in Jaywick, staying at the Martello Beach Holiday Park. Gaining the confidence and acceptance of the community presented a challenge - one that could not be taken for granted, but which in time helped cement the creative foundation for a rewarding partnership. Jaywick residents expressed through their words, their enthusiasm and their own artistic endeavour, a deep sense of their own belonging and their own history.

There is a resilience, even a sense of resistance to what the 'world beyond Jaywick' sees. This is a place, a community which in many ways exists beyond the edge, has body-swerved the pressures to conform and rejected the regimentation of modern urban and suburban living. Sun, sea and salt-air freedom within a tight-knit, dogged community overcome any English seaside doubts or sadness. This is a community at ease with itself.

The three elements of the project aimed to capture this boldness, this communal confidence.

  •  The twenty minute film takes in the great skies and sea-scapes as well as the detail of its jigsaw puzzle township. Visitors and residents describe, remember, recount and laugh their way through this series of images. This film is their film in their words.
  •  The images and words of the 'Postcard Competition' express beautifully the feelings the community has for its own social environment as well as its love for the landscape.
  • Karen's photographs capture the expressions, the character, the inter-action and the summer days of Jaywick and Jaywick's people. Here is everything that is good, everything that is important, but also too often taken for granted and too easily forgotten.

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