I arrived at Chalkwell House, METAL's home in Southend on a wet and blustery afternoon. This Georgian building is beautifully situated in the middle of Chalkwell Park. My bedroom, one of two for artists-in-residence, overlooks the park's well-tended gardens and has a stellar view out towards the Estuary.
I spent the next day on Two Tree Island, an Essex Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. It's 634 acres includes salt marshes and mudflats. The island was originally reclaimed from the sea in the 18th century. An Old Sewage Works was built and abandoned and the site also had been used as a corporate rubbish tip. The island subsequently reverted to nature. From 1988 - 1991, an improvement scheme raised the seawall and covered exposed areas with topsoil to create additional habitat for wildlife. I since have read Rachel Lichtenstein’s book, Estuary: Out From London to the Sea, and learned that toxic chemicals dumped here (including PCBs) continue to leach into the surrounding wetland.
True to form, I gravitated towards whatever geometrical structures I could find in the Reserve. I was intrigued with the views from the island's half overgrown bird hides, provisional structures in which I could see the landscape from innumerable angles.