Before Westminster, before the city, before Roman settlements or druid camps, came the river. it is almost impossible to overestimate the importance of the Thames to the history of the city.
The Totally Thames festival celebrates Mother Thames and the city which grew up on its banks. Simply put, without the Thames there is no London. The river is part of the fabric of the city and the two are connected in ways that we could not even begin to imagine.
The Totally Thames Festival aims to put that relationship in perspective. The month-long festival celebrates the river and its influence upon the city with a diverse programme of events – regattas, river races, foreshore archaeology and environmental activities. The aims of the festival are as follows:
To encourage Londoners to think more about the river and its heritage
To champion a diverse and sustainable creative riverfront
To inspire Londoners to become the next generation of river ambassadors
To facilitate novel and innovative ways to learn about the river
To support and nurturing artists and encourage them to place the river at the centre of their work
Totally Thames is an annual season of surprising, diverse and accessible arts and culture throughout the month of September. The programme is curated and managed by the Thames Festival Trust, with activity taking place on, beneath, and along the River Thames.
Some of the main centerpieces of the festival will include:
THE SHIP OF TOLERANCE by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov
The Kabakov Foundation and Art, Action Change will bring The Ship of Tolerance to London to be unveiled on the River. The Ship of Tolerance is an international art project created by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, two of the most celebrated artists of their generation and widely known for their large-scale installations.
First launched in Egypt in 2005, The Ship of Tolerance has subsequently been created in Venice, San Moritz, Sharjah, Miami, Havana, Moscow, New York, Zug, Rome and Rostock. The project was awarded the prestigious Cartier Prize for the Best Art Project of the Year in 2010.
The Ship of Tolerance is dedicated to educating and connecting children from different continents, cultures, and identities through the universal language of art. The project includes an extensive outreach programme which engages schools, community groups and cultural organisations in workshops designed to discuss tolerance and diversity among cultures, races and ideas.
THE WORLD'S OLDEST BOAT RACE
Since 1715, the Race for Doggett’s Coat and Badge has been passionately rowed by apprentice river workers on the Thames. It is believed to be the oldest continually competed sporting event in the world. Despite its fascinating history, little of Doggett’s is documented and it has long been overshadowed by the much more famous Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race.
The World’s Oldest Boat Race brings to life this hidden history at the heart of London. It encompasses stories of family pride and family rivalry, and a passion that kept Doggett’s race alive through two World Wars, a schism between ‘gentlemen amateur’ and ‘professional’ rowers, the decline of the docks and a fast-changing capital.
SING FOR WATER
Sing for Water was founded by renowned singer, composer and musical director Helen Chadwick and the Thames Festival Trust. Last year THEY raised £22,000 for WaterAid efforts in Rwanda, and since the project began have raised over £1 million for them, this year’s efforts will be focused toward Malawi.
Launched in 2014, Totally Thames emerged from the idea to expand and replace the hugely successful two-day Thames Festival along the South Bank and Bankside that ran from 1997 -2013.
The month-long programme runs along the 42-mile stretch of the Thames through working collaboratively with artists, local communities, river interest organisations and businesses.
Each year the festivals runs an open call for events to be part of the programme, which range from pop-up performances, boating events, art installations, River clean-ups, live performances, talks, workshops and much more.
The Thames Festival Trust commissions and supports artists from all disciplines to create new work that spotlights the river and its rich heritage.
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