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IDEA13 TV: Interview with Charles Sharman-Cox – Sweet Thames Run Softly – T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land – Beecroft Art Gallery

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Beecroft Art Gallery, Victoria Road, Southend on Sea

Charles Sharman-Cox came up with an idea to perform T.S. Eliot‘s poem The Waste Land about 18 months ago, but it’s always been close to his heart. Forty years ago he chose this piece for a young people’s company Theatre Union he ran in Southend at that time. Then 15 years ago, a near miss, he started working on a dramatisation for Radio 4 Drama department but the project has never gone ahead.

For Sweet Thames Run Softly, Charles approached 12 artists to create a new work inspired by a line from The Waste Land, joining them all in a new artist group The Thames Group of Artists. His own contribution is a performance of the whole poem inspired by line 411: “I have heard the key. Turn in the door once and turn once only“. He channels the piece through a mad man character, dressed in a straight jacket, locked up in an institution: gone through a nervous breakdown, maybe an ex soldier, says Charles. “There is a lot going on, lots of different ideas… it’s like Jazz.” When he’s not performing, his work is represented by an installation of a ‘institution’ wall with marks measuring time and a plain chair.

Working with an architect John Lyall, Charles was able to create a pop up gallery to show Sweet Thames Run Softly project, a space made entirely from cardboard which all locks down, making the it easily portable. Launched at Village Green‘s festival in Southend this year, it’s been exhibited at Beecroft Art Gallery for the last 7 weeks as part of Totally Thames Festival until this Saturday, 3 October, with the last performance at 3pm (Free entry).

Next stop is a one-day festival in Greenwich and in January – a T.S. Elliot festival at the Royal Festival Hall.


Ian Atkinson – Photographer
Tadeus Blower – Painter / Animator
Bill Butcher – Illustrator
Charlie Cox – Actor / Director
Duncan Crossley – Conceptual Artist
Steve Dowson – Painter
Anthony Farrell – Painter / Printmaker
Sara Grundy – Milliner
Tessa Hallmann – Photographer
James Judge – Painter
Peter Knock – Painter / Illustrator
Simon Monk – Painter
Jennie Sharman-Cox – Assemblage Artist