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'Black Girl Essex: Here We Come, Look We Here', film still. Tilbury Docks, Essex. Film still: Andy Delaney 2019



A film and appliqué flag culminating from a four-month residency at Firstsite for Super Black, an Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme exhibition.

In the film, James wanders around the Tilbury docks wearing a dazzling carnival outfit. To me, her clothes not only reference the Caribbean carnival tradition but also the archetypal Essex girl. The visual affinity of these two cultures clashes with the overt racism experienced by some of the people in James’ discussion groups -- Chloe Austin, Art historian and writer for Black Ballad 

The title of this work turns the historically 'white' stereotype of the Essex girl, which characterises women from Essex as unintelligent, promiscuous and materialistic, on its head. It centres the implications of identity, place and conflict for Black folks living in Essex. Specifically, it disrupts the existing narratives. By giving a platform to these Black voices, the work attempts to form new understandings of Blackness viewed through a contemporary Essex lens.

Black Girl Essex: Here We Come, Look We Here (excerpt), HD video with sound, duration 13:40 mins

Elsa James Artist
Elsa James Artist

Images: Film stills, Tilbury Docks, Essex. Andy Delaney 2019

Black Girl Essex: Here We Come, Look We Here was conceived, written and produced by Elsa James from discussions held with members of the black community in Essex. Directed, photographed and edited by Andy Delaney. Performance by Elsa James. Discussion interview edit by Elsa James. With Graham Tobias, Camera Assistant and Gaffer; Mak Gilchrist, Director's Assistant; Storm Thompson, Assistant to Elsa James; Louis Gaston, Sound Engineer; Adrian Seery, Colourist; Ed Hall, New Essex Flag for the film; Symone Williams, Carnival Costume Designer and Ian Matthews, Music Consultant.


The film was funded through Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants and generously supported by Firstsite gallery. With special thanks to the Port of Tilbury.

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