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Art exhibition shows how a Thames Estuary airport will concrete Kent

Date: 27/03/2012           Category: Airport campaign

A series of stunning images will starkly set out the devastating impact a huge hub airport could have on Medway and wider Kent.
 
A group of nine artists have put together an eye-catching exhibition, called Beauty or the Beast, which shows the damage they believe a Thames Estuary airport would cause. 

The exhibition starts on Saturday, 31 March and will include work from artists Martin Booth, Karl Farrer, Jim Hill, Tina Lawlor Mottram, Stuart Ody, Peter Reeds, Teresa Tanner, Dave Wise and Kevin Clarkson.

The exhibitors – who have combined to call themselves the No Thames Airport Artists Group - say they are ‘concerned by the visual propaganda generated by Foster & Partners for a Thames Estuary airport’. 

And they say they aim to ‘cut through the spin and visualise the case against such a development’ in the exhibition, which will be at the Nucleus Art Gallery in Chatham.

One of the group, graphic artist Kevin Clarkson, has produced a striking image – called The Thames Estuary Hub Airport: An Inconvenient Truth – which clearly illustrates how Medway and the surrounding area will dramatically alter if an airport gets the go ahead. 

His work shows how the series of roads, railways, new towns and other building work needed for a massive £70billion four-runway airport would quite literally swallow up the area.

While Mr Clarkson uses artistic licence, he clearly captures how the local area would change if Lord Foster’s Isle of Grain airport proposal carrying 150million passengers a year, 24 hours a day, was built.

In his work, the large town of Sittingbourne has disappeared and in its place is a spaghetti junction style series of roads.

A huge motorway links from this through newly formed urban areas before destroying the picturesque village of Iwade and other rural settings.

It then joins a futuristic suspension bridge similar to the Severn crossing, allowing motorists to get to the Hoo Peninsula.

Elsewhere, quiet seaside locations on the Isle of Sheppey link up and form a mini-Manhattan style collection of tower block towns while the idyllic villages of the historic Hoo Penininsula are unrecognisable.

In this image, Mr Clarkson has attempted to squeeze Lord Foster's airport on to the Isle of Grain on the peninsula without removing the Liquified Natural Gas terminal – where one fifth of UK’s gas is imported and stored – or the power stations there, as the well known architect has made no mention of what would happen to them in his detailed plan.

Other works Mr Clarkson has submitted include graphic poster art showing an airplane landing on a busy car-filled road with the words ‘Welcome to the Garden of Kent 2030’.

Another visual shows how 4,320 flights would take to the skies every 24 hours with Lord Foster’s new proposal - and he shows how this compares to the number of aircraft movements currently over Heathrow and Gatwick.

Mr Clarkson said: “The exhibition will give a snapshot of what the Thames and Medway estuaries mean to their communities and highlights the devastation an airport twice the size of Heathrow would have on health and the quality of life of people living there.

“These are issues airbrushed out of the visuals we have all seen that have been issued by Foster & Partners.

“I have tried to show just how close towns in Kent and Essex would be to this airport if built because whenever I read about this in the London media no one seems to appreciate just how many people would be affected by an airport on this scale.

“The hundreds of thousands of families living in places like Rochester, Strood, Gillingham, Chatham, Gravesend, Sittingbourne, Southend, Canvey Island and Thurrock would all see their quality of like severely affected.”

The exhibition runs at the Nucleus Art Gallery off Chatham High Street from Saturday 31 March until 5 April.