For Estuary 2021, artist Lata Upadhyaya will be travelling around the estuary from her home in Thurrock in the white Ford Transit van that she has transformed into a travelling art and conversation space.
Lata’s work Arts in Transit (2019) transforms an ordinary white Ford Transit van, a common sight on the roads of the UK. By bringing together cultural signifiers from the two places Lata has called home – the stereotype of the British ‘White Van Man’ and South Asian truck art, where vehicles are decorated with elaborate patterns and calligraphy – the van is designed to reflect the rich diversity of contemporary Britain and the valuable contribution that immigration has made to British society.
We Are All Here (2021), a new work for Estuary 2021, transforms the inside of the van into an installation of books representing the history and culture of communities around the Thames Estuary. The books’ covers, developed through workshops with local communities, are inspired by the stories of migrants that have arrived in the UK, via Tilbury Docks, from across the British Empire.
As part of We Are All Here, Lata will be launching a participation project, joining up with the global BookCrossing.com project to share a specially curated selection of books associated with the Thames Estuary and contemporary British society.
BookCrossing is the act of giving a book a unique identity so, as books are passed from reader to reader, their journeys can be tracked and opinions, recommendations and thoughts shared, creating connections across audiences. It’s a celebration of literature and a place where books get a new life, just like the migrants that have settled in Britain.
You can visit Arts in Transit and We Are All Here at Guru Nanak Darbar, Gravesend.