Barking & Dagenham, Worcestershire and Exeter get set to plunge into Rivers of the World…

Photo: Ed Stone

Supported by Arts Council England’s Strategic Touring Fund, Rivers of the World will bring its arts based learning programme for young people to three new river-based regions across England.

Rivers of the World is an international art and education programme from the Thames Festival Trust delivered in partnership with the British Council. Working in Barking & Dagenham, Exeter and Worcestershire the project will engage six new secondary schools in each region and partner with schools in Palestine, Malawi and Kenya. The two year programme encourages pupils to learn about their local river in the first year and about a river in their partner country overseas in the second year.

Taking an arts-based learning model the project trains and supports schools with a cross-curricular programme, places professional artists in schools and partners them with an international school. The children and young people engage and learn about their local river through environmental, economic and cultural learning and themes to create large-scale river-inspired artworks. Rivers of the World will bring a high-quality touring art exhibition to raise the profile of work by children and young people, spotlighting the importance and vitality of rivers.

The project will work with St Peter’s School, Exeter Royal Academy for the Deaf, St Luke’s School and St James School in Exeter; St Egwin's CE Middle School, Pershore High School, Tenbury High School, Tudor Grange School and Nunnery Wood School, Blackminster School in Worcestershire and Riverside School, Barking Abbey School, Eastbury Community School, Robert Clack School, Dagenham Park School and All Saints Catholic Secondary School in Barking & Dagenham. 

  • “We’re thrilled to be taking Rivers of the World into three new regions around England this year and working to inspire young people to engage with their local rivers and collaborate with international schools to create artwork that can be enjoyed and experienced here and aboard.”
    ​Adrian Evans, Director, Thames Festival Trust
  • “The global links made through Rivers of the World continue to grow and art remains a source of inspiration, nourishing young people's creativity. Art in this context is a medium for deeper understanding and respect for the rich history of the world and its diverse cultures. It allows not just the students but the many people who see the final exhibitions, to travel to countries in their imagination with children as guides, to places which they might not be able visit in person.”
    Shona Watt, Lead Artist
  • “Art and culture play a significant part in the council’s vision for improving quality of life and enhancing what Exeter has to offer for residents and all those who work here and visit our city. We are delighted to be involved in this amazing project. For many years the River Exe was fundamental to the prosperity of Exeter, and today it continues to play a very important role in promoting leisure and tourism in the city. ”
    Val Wilson, City Arts and Events Manager, Exeter City Council
  • “We are very excited to be a part of this fantastic project as it comes to Exeter for the first time - and can’t wait to see the exciting outcomes as it unfolds.”
    Matt Burrows, Curator, Exeter Phoenix
  • “We are delighted to be part of this project that broadens opportunities for young people to access high quality arts and to enable young people to play a lead role in shaping the arts in Worcestershire. It gives local schools and young people a real opportunity to see their work in a wider national and international context. ”
    Elaine Knight, Arts Officer, Worcestershire Arts Partnership
  • “Rivers of the World is a great arts project for us to be a part of, particularly because The River Severn acts as a source of energy for The Hive. It will be wonderful to see the creativity of the local Worcestershire children after they have worked with the artists when the final piece is exhibited at The Hive. ”
    Laura Worsfold, Business Development Manager, The Hive, Worcester
  • “We are delighted to welcome the touring Rivers of the World exhibition of local young people’s art works to our gallery. The rich history and culture of the area past and present, including the important part played by the fishing industry will unlock its secrets and infuse the works with new learning and authentic connections. Guided and inspired by professional creative practitioners, these young artists will develop the skills to transform their feelings and ideas into visual form. ”
    Carole Pluckrose, Artistic Director, The Boathouse Barking CIC
  • “Barking & Dagenham has a thriving Cultural Education Partnership, uniting its primary and secondary schools in a collaborative network which promotes and celebrates learning through the arts and cultural learning. Involvement in this exciting international programme will support the aims of our CEP and extend learning and cultural experience for many young people in this multi-cultural borough.”
    Nigel Sagar, Senior School Improvement Adviser & CEP Lead, Barking & Dagenham Cultural Education Partnership
  • “Working with Thames Festival Trust on such a highly regarded international project will provide great opportunity for the Cultural Connectors (local residents) to form new cultural links – connecting communities and creative practitioners - locally and beyond. Through this project, we are able further-connect our work with the Local Cultural Education Partnership, to inspire future generations of Cultural Connectors through local relationships with schools.”
    Lindsey Pugh, Executive Creative Producer, Creative Barking and Dagenham

This week artists from Kenya, Palestine, Malawi and the UK including Shona Watt, lead artist on the project who brings 13 years of experience, Sarah Brown, Pete Ashton, Becci Eriksson and Gaby Lovatt come together for the first time for artistic exchange and regional visits to meet the participating schools and students. The artists will then work in their regional schools to create an exhibition of artworks that will tour to oxo@Gallery, Boathouse Gallery, Barking; Exeter Phoenix and The Hive in Worcester in autumn.

> Find out more about Rivers of the World