Michael Landy’s Welcome to Essex

Exhibitions: FREE

Michael Landy’s Welcome to Essex


Saturday 26 June - Sunday 05 September 2021


Michael Landy, Welcome to Essex, 2021. Ink on paper. Copyright Michael Landy. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery

2021 is the 10th anniversary of Firstsite’s award-winning building – designed by Rafael Viñoly. To celebrate, we are continuing our year of celebration projects and commissions – which kicked off with The Great Big Art Exhibition – with a major exhibition of brand-new works by artist Michael Landy CBE. ‘Michael Landy’s Welcome to Essex’ invites you to explore, celebrate and question the recent history of Essex and its contemporary portrayal in popular culture.

The exhibition features new commissions emerging from the artist’s research surrounding his home county of Essex, including ‘Essex Man (after Collet)” (2021) – a larger-than-life standing figure in our Welcome Area made from a hand drawn reproduction of the original ‘Essex Man’ illustration by Edward Collet in a 1990s Sunday Telegraph, and a golden, contemporary recreation of the ‘Dagenham idol’ – a wooden figure carbon dated around 2250 BC which is one of the oldest human representations found in Europe.

Part of our building’s magnificent 140m curved wall will feature a large-scale collage – inspired by walks Michael has taken throughout the county, including Southend-based artist and activist Elsa James, writer and broadcaster Gillian Darley, and Professor Pam Cox, Head of the Department of Sociology, University of Essex.

Also on display is a fascinating archive entitled ‘Essexism’ – highlighting the stereotyping of the Essex population into figures such as of ‘Essex Man’ and ‘Essex Girls’, as well as the opinions expressed towards the county through media representation. Explore a wide range of material including clips from TV shows and films, such as ‘The Only Way is Essex’, ‘Birds of a Feather’, ‘Spitting Image’, ‘Essex Wives’ and Harry Enfield’s character ‘Loadsamoney’, as well as books, magazine articles, music and online news items.

Click here to see the full list of material included in the ‘Essexism’ archive, including everything featured in the exhibition and more!

You might also like…

Check out this video from Visit Essex featuring extraordinary people from the county to challenge the stereotypes. Find out more about their #ThisisEssex campaign and ambassadors and discover the real Essex at visitessex.com

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

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