The Sanskrit word of mandala means circle. It is a symbolic design of sacred geometry and represents the wheel of life. In Buddhism, the eight spaces around the central circle signify the charnel grounds reminding us of the impermanence of life. The outer circle represents wisdom.
Objects were reimagined from Thurrock’s Coat of Arms and placed within the eight sections of a Celtic Cross. They are filled with waves and stone quay bricks. Together with the central area, they form the sacred nine areas of the mandala.
The outer rim are words in Latin of the repeated motto of Thurrock meaning ‘By Thames to All Peoples of the World’. It underpins the character of Britain as an island nation; the continual necessity and ever changing relationship to worlds beyond through trade, politics, creativity and humanity. The letters, like flotsam, consider the spread of pollution by water.
The lanyard and shipping symbols signify Thurrock’s long association with the seas – from the 7th Century pilgrims crossed the Thames at Tilbury, through to Tudor times when Elizabeth 1st rallied her troops at Tilbury Fort. The East and West India Docks Company built the docks at Tilbury in 1882 at the dawn of the steamship era. It served as vital access for trade and peoples to and from the Commonwealth. To this day, the development of docks in Thurrock serve to accommodate large container ships.
The central Tudor Rose signifies Queen Elizabeth 1st’s rallying speech at Tilbury Fort against the Spanish Armada with the words “I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king.” England’s success against Spain marked a huge turning point in the country’s history and was celebrated in all manner of ways. Songs were written, medals struck, portraits painted and prints published.
The colouring of The Thurrock Mandala are photos of waste plastic collected by Steve Catchpole of Thames21 and Thames Beachcombers. This waste plastic from the Thames was used for the making of the public Grays Mandala. The animated Thurrock Mandala spins upon a video of the waves of the Thames at Thurrock.
Mandalas are for meditation. The Thurrock Mandala contemplates the transmuting culture of the area, helping us reflect and understand its history and heritage, its present and future. The public will be able to see The Thurrock Mandala as it tours Thurrock after the Festival.
Design and videos by Hi Ching.