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Essex Way Walks

‘The Essex Way’ was made in connection with Michael’s 2021 exhibition at Firstsite, ‘Welcome to Essex’. It saw him invite a number of Essex residents, thinkers, artists, writers, politicians and celebrity TV stars to walk with him along their favourite walk in Essex.

Watch highlights from Michael’s walks with Gillian Darley, Maria Anastassiou, Ken Worpole and Elsa James.  

Gillian Darley

Michael and Gillian walked 4.3 miles from Benfleet Railway Station to Ye Olde Smack, High Street, Leigh-on-Sea, passing the ruins of Hadleigh Castle, the Salvation Army farm colony and Two Tree Island.

Gillian Darley OBE is the author of Excellent Essex (2019, pb 2021). She is a widely published architectural and landscape writer, biographer and broadcaster. www.gilliandarley.com

Maria Anastassiou

Michael and Maria walked around one of Maria’s favourite places in Essex–Rainham Marshes, a former military firing range, now an RSPB nature reserve.

Maria Anastassiou is an artist/filmmaker using analogue and digital media in moving image, social practice and film programming. She is interested in the form and application of the filmmaking process as an entry point into places, historical narratives and communities. Many of her projects are collaborative and defined by an exchange with other artists and the public.

Ken Worpole

Michael and Ken walked from Wivenhoe to Frating Hall Farm, home to a Christian pacifist farming settlement from 1943 until 1954.


KEN WORPOLE is a writer and social historian, whose work includes studies of architecture, landscape and public policy. In recent years he has focused on the Essex landscape and history, in such books as 350 Miles: An Essex Journey, and The New English Landscape. His most recent publication, No Matter How Many Skies Have Fallen (2021), is a study of a wartime Christian pacifist community in Frating, Essex. A review in The New Statesman recently observed that: ‘Worpole is a literary original, a social and architectural historian whose books combine the Orwellian ideal of common decency with an understated erudition’.

Elsa James

Michael visited Elsa in Southend to walk from Chalkwell to Southend Pier.

Elsa James’ practice speaks of a wider ambition to encourage those who engage with her work to reflect on their own subjectivity and performed identity. She employs modes of recovery and recollection to examine ideas surrounding regionality of race and black subjectivity. Her black British identity ignites her interdisciplinary, collaborative and research-based practice, located within the fields of performance, film (in which she also performs), text-based art, socio-political and socially engaged art.

Welcome area at Firstsite. 'Big Hello' (2018) Peter Liversidge. Photo by Jayne Lloyd.

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