An ambitious project is being launched which will see street artists and illustrators painting the Redsand Sea Forts just off the east coast of England. The sea forts are located in a cluster eight miles north of Whitstable off the Kent coast, and were built in 1943 after the Blitz as a strategic defence post to help defend against any similar attacks. Design exhibition organisers Designersblock are helping to organise the project and are currently running a feasibility study. The project will also be immortalised in a full-length documentary film
Painted Oceans Trailer
According to Designersblock Director Piers Roberts, who is working with the Project Redsand Trust, which is able to grant access for the “Painted Oceans” project, which is set to be one of the most dangerous and exciting mural projects in history. The idea behind the project is to not only preserve the forts, but to promote their value, investigate their history and stimulate the economy of the coast. Of course, it will also bring attention to the works of some seriously talented street artists.
“The murals won’t be painted straight onto the rusted steel, we need to get undercoats on there and use marine quality paint. It’s really about preservation”
There are two types of fort; the ones used by the army and the ones used by the navy; the Redsand ones Roberts and his team are working with are the army ones, and were once connected by bridges. Roberts said of the task ahead of them: “We need to think about how we get onto the forts, how will we link them, how we get gantries onto them, how we paint them. The murals won’t be painted straight onto the rusted steel, we need to get undercoats on there and use marine quality paint. It’s really about preservation.”
Painted Oceans Kickstarter
Engineering consultancy Burro Happold has already looked at the structural integrity of the site, which was once home to pirate radio station Radio City in the 1960s. LA-based painter and designer Tristan Eaton (who is behind the idea for the project) specialises in large scale environmental work. He has already drafted in Shepard Fairey (who designed the iconic Obama HOPE poster and Obey fashion line), Futura, How & Nosm and The London Police, who are all planning their murals now. All of the artists will live at sea for a month to complete the project. The murals are expected to be completed this summer and after that boat trips will take visitors out to see the work, although Roberts says it is too early to say whether people will be able to access a landing platform. A Kickstarter campaign is underway to raise money for the project and the documentary.
“These forts are a perfect icon for the spirit of the street art & graffiti movement”
Eaton said of the Painted Oceans project: “We're not a business, we're a charitable trust and our interests are the interests of the fort. The mural project could be exciting for young people, because it could mean we attract the interests of young people, who are our future. And it could expose the history of the forts to educate the young people. So it's a possibility that it could be beneficial, but we need to look at every aspect of it. Whether it's fighting the tyranny of the Nazis during WWII or fighting censorship in their Pirate Radio days in the 60's, these forts have always been on the frontline of defence against oppression. This makes them a perfect icon for the spirit of the street art & graffiti movement and I think it's important to share their story with a new generation.”