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The Pier Commission is artist Julia Snowdin’s intriguing response to the open call for proposals to transform the pier in Erith into a piece of public art for the duration of the Totally Thames Festival.  The piece will celebrate the ever-changing nature and dynamic history of the pier through the installation of decorated sails that will animate the space with the wind and light of the Thames.

Snowdin’s artwork comprises a series of storytelling ship’s sails, designed and produced in partnership with Erith residents. The sails hang around the pier creating outdoor rooms in which visitors can sit, relax, draw, play and be. The hole-punched designs allow light to travel through the fabric, creating a patterned and shimmering effect on the pier; at night, the sails are lit with different hues enticing people to the river. 

Julia Snowdin uses textiles to create unexpected and interactive spaces for communities to come together, share experiences and craft new stories.  Snowdin was chosen by public vote to be the first artist to reimagine the unique location of Erith Pier for the inaugural Pier Commission.

Erith Pier. The first wooden pier was constructed in 1842, heralding the beginning of Erith’s brief period as pleasure resort for the London elite and port of call for commuter ships.  The pier subsequently offered industrial ships a deep-water wharf where cargo could be unloaded until 1957 when it was replaced by the current 360m long boomerang-shaped concrete pier.  The decline in industry in the second half of the twentieth century left the pier abandoned until Morrison’s opened a supermarket on the site in 1999 and retained it as a public amenity.

The Pier Commission. The Pier Commission is an annual contemporary art project devised by The Exchange and sponsored by Orbit and Wates Residential to reimagine Erith Pier. The Exchange is an organisation for creativity and community that will be taking up long-term residence in Erith’s Old Library.

 The Pier Commission is sponsored by Orbit & Wates Residential