Explore Culture


The #InstaEssex project has been a great success. In total 97 photographers (amateurs and professionals) submitted a total of 131 images to the competition. Sharing their ideas of what Essex culture means to them.  

We had such a fantastic array of images submitted so it was a really difficult decision for the panel to make. Here is the judges’ final selection of the 15 winners to be exhibited. The top three prize winners will be announced on Thursday 24 March 2016.  

The panels will be up at Liverpool Street Station from Thursday 24 March 2016 until the end of May / beginning of June (date TBC) and at Branchline Stations from Saturday 9th April (more details will be shared after the 31st March 2016).

Thank you to everyone who took part by entering the competition and sharing what Essex culture means to you in imagery. 


Regatta Day - Mersea Island
Chrissie Westgate (professional)

International award-winning photographer from Mersea Island, Chrissie Westgate often travels to India to photograph people as well as capturing local events like Mersea Week, believing that "photography is not just about seeing, it is about feeling".

The West Mersea Town Regatta dates back to 1838, and there are races, music and a funfair, plus fireworks at the end of the day.

In this photograph Essex fishing boats and the Thames Sailing Barge, ‘Kitty’ form a line to welcome in Regatta Saturday. East Coast Regattas used to be many but now this is one of the remaining places to still hold with tradition and host a Regatta with fun for all. 

The judging panel really appreciated the balanced composition of the photograph, but also the balance of the old Thames Sailing Barge, once common on the Essex coast and the more modern fishing vessels. 



Gilbies, Southend on Sea
Marc Newton (professional)

Marc Newton is a professional Photographer and teacher of photography working in Essex and London. Marc is passionate about documenting modern life with photography, focusing on people, their possessions and the places they live, all with an honesty and intrinsic nature, creating intimate pictures of the people and places that make up these vibrant parts of England.

Gilbies, Southend on Sea is part of an ongoing project documenting the life of Southend on Sea. Marc is drawn to the area due to the nostalgia of days out by the sea and the people, who remind him of what the East End used to be like when growing up.

This image captures Marc’s favourite time to visit Southend, when it's quite and grey.




Fun in the Sun on Clacton Beach
Matthew Mallett (professional)

Matthew Mallett runs a photography business, JRM Photography, his love for photography developed out of his daytime role as a Crime Scene Examiner for 16 years, shifting dramatically from dealing with crime scenes to photographing landscape imagery in the golden hours around sunrise and sunset. 

Living on the Essex Coast in England allows Matthew to exploit the natural beauty of the coastline and the ever changing looks provided by the prevailing weather conditions. He uses a tripod to incorporate long exposures which give a surreal appearance to his images. 

Matthew entered Fun in the Sun on Clacton Beach as Clacton is part of Essex’s ‘sunshine coast’ and this image depicts everything that is great about Clacton; hot sunny weather, people having fun, blue skies and the sight of the Red Arrows a regular August visitor to Clacton.



Summer Fun in Chelmsford City
John Puczkowski  (professional)

Creative arts professional photographer John Puczkowski works and lives in the City of Chelmsford Essex.  His love and passion for photography has taken him all around the world from Alaska, South America, Europe, Africa and the Far East working in association with tourism. The creative stance to his work and the love and passion he has for his photography has gained him recognition as a long standing professional.

John’s image is of ‘City Diversions’, a free festival of outdoor performance. Unique to Chelmsford, the festival transforms the city centre into an amazing world of absurdity enjoyed by thousands. This popular weekend event attracts visitors and shoppers from across the region to experience performances from some of the best outdoor artists from across the UK and internationally as well as home grown talent from right here in Essex.

For more information about John and his work you can find him on Facebook, twitter, and linked.



Maldon Mud Race
David Dodd (amateur)

David is an amateur photographer and bought his DSLR camera for a holiday to capture clear digital pictures. He’s been hooked taking photos of scenery and people ever since.

David has captured a fabulous moment of the annual Maldon Mud Race. One of the more unusual cultural events in Essex it attracts over 15,000 spectators and 300 muddy competitors who complete a 400 metre dash across the bed of the River Blackwater to raise money for local charities all in the name of fun. The ‘Race’ originated from a challenge being given by a local resident in 1973 to the landlord of the Queens Head public house on the Hythe Quay, challenging him to serve a meal on the Saltings of the Rivers Blackwater dressed in a dinner jacket. 

The judges were impressed with this striking image of a uniquely Essex event, and conveyed the essence of needing to be in the right place at the right time to capture a fleeting moment.



Firstsite, Fishing Smack and Folly
Chrissie Westgate (professional)

International award-winning photographer from Mersea Island, Chrissie Westgate often travels to India to photograph people as well as capturing the local surrounding landscapes. She enjoys all aspects of the art form and poetically describes the moment of creating an instant image as being both ‘harmonious and delightful’. 

Chrissie submitted this image to illustrate the county of Essex's wealth and culture through time. 

“On right is Firstsite, a contemporary art gallery in Colchester which opened in 2011. The Fishing Smack seen outside the gallery is CK 256 [Colchester Creek] HYACINTH. Built in 1900 by Aldous of Brightlingsea she was originally used for Oyster dredging. Hyacinth is outside Firstsite to celebrate an exhibition by Essex artist Jamie Dodds. Jamie is arguably Essex's most famous contemporary artist. The building to the fore is part of the Gothic Folly at the Minories Art Gallery built in the 1800's. 

Such is the diversity of Essex Old and new sitting comfortably together.”




Paul K Porter

Currently located in Essex, Paul K Porter looks to explore the environment and capture it in his own special way. The main reason behind his photography is to share his vision of the world with others and inspire them to explore too.

Basildon has the nickname Basvegas for the sights and sounds found at Festival Leisure park. BasVegasWood is a long exposure image taken from the A127 highlighting the Basildon sign with some light trails from passing cars as they head in all directions.



Stare into the Supermoon of Essex
Scott Francis (professional) 

Scott Francis is a professional photographer from Basildon, who mainly takes portraits.

Scott has captured the historic Hadleigh Castle at night with the stunning supermoon of 2015. The 13th century castle is part of English Heritage and was the residence of Edward III, now more recently known as the site where the 2012 London Olympics Mountain Bike races were held. 

Scott’s reason for entering this image was that it referenced many cultures; “the attractions of Southend-on-Sea bustling with people looking for a good night out, the small quiet town of Leigh-on-sea (to the left) with people settling down for a quiet night in. There is also the c2c rail line (to the right) which many people travel on to move in and out of Essex for business and pleasure and of course the tranquillity and heritage of Hadleigh Castle which overlooks all peacefully, combined with the Essex coastline to the right along with the country walks and to top it off with a spectacular supermoon for the deserving spectator, a view fit for a king”. 

For more information about Scott’s work find him on facebook Scott Francis Photography.


Colchester Oyster Catchers
Martyn Rainbird (amateur)

In September 2015 Martyn became interested in photography and took a Digital Photography Introduction course at Witham Adult Education Centre. He began with a compact camera and soon after bought his first DSLR. He enjoys capturing images at local places of interest such as Tiptree Heath, Marks Hall and Fingringhoe nature reserve.

Martyn entered this image as a typical working life scene of oyster fishing on the Essex coast. The world renowned oysters from the Colchester District are an important part of the local community dating back to Roman times and continue to provide a gastronomic tourist location to this day. 

The judging panel felt that this picture summed up the historic practice of Oyster fishing, which has been happening for centuries. It is a snapshot of everyday life, a routine practice, but is perhaps unexpected for Essex. The annual Oyster Fayre is on 4th – 5th June in Colchester in 2016 highlighting this cultural and heritage aspect of Essex.


Table for five
Mark Taylor

Mark uses Leigh-on-Sea's atmospheric Old Town as the backdrop for his work, which captures daily dramas in the lives of a diverse, ever-changing cast. 

His stars are the bait diggers and day trippers, the boat owners and cafe crawlers, indeed just about anybody at work or play on Leigh's wharves and cobbled streets. Mark composes images which tell stories, or parts of stories.

Table for Five celebrates Leigh-on-Sea’s culture of cockles. Visitors flock to Billet Wharf to feast on the shellfish caught, cooked and sold in the area. Just beware seagulls!




Piano man
Julie Goddard (amateur)

Julie Goddard is an enthusiastic amateur photographer. Her interest was piqued with her first camera at a young age. She enjoys taking pictures of life, sunsets, sunrises and the ever changing landscape of the sea and sky which I love. 

For Julie, this image of Harwich Art festival represents her love of arts, our community and our sense of fun.

Harwich Festival celebrates local talent and the unique beauty of the landscape, history and heritage while also bringing in performances from internationally acclaimed artists to provide a wonderful mix of new and challenging work with the more familiar.

The Festival provides platforms from which artists, young people and the wider community can develop their artistic output and interest and we will continue to do this throughout the year.

Eastern Exposure: Piano Transplant No.4 was a stunning art installation, where a piano after being played for one night only, was left to slowly erode and disperse by the sea.


Harlow Playhouse Theatre Posters
Brian Duffy (professional)

Brian Duffy is based in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire near the border with Essex. As a photographer Duffy skilfully captures everything from, still life Macro shots, to grand expansive landscapes, from shooting sports to portraiture. Among his portfolio some of his most striking photographs are his street, urban, candid and documentary style images.

Brian has entered ‘Harlow Playhouse Theatre Posters’ into the #InstaEssex competition to highlight the breadth of Essex Culture.

“These posters on the side of Harlow Playhouse show that there is more to Essex than TOWIE. Rik Mayall, the famous comedian and actor was born in Harlow and Sir Charles Kao, who is recognised as the "father of broadband" through is fibre optic research is recognised as the name of the University Technical College at Harlow College”.

The judges enjoyed the urban every day take on this image, intertwined with references to cultural celebrities from the area and modern architecture.




Colchester Free Festival 2015
Simon Rudkins

Simon Rudkins photography is about capturing the emotions and feelings of the times, places and events that shape our lives. His interest in photography began over twenty-five years ago, which has been reignited since the arrival of his children through wanting to create a legacy of their lives for them and future generations.  What started as a record of his rapidly developing family quickly branched out into capturing the essence of the places and events they have experienced. 

This image features Colchester Free Festival, an annual 100% community led, volunteer run, not for profit event. It exists to bring together the community in Colchester to celebrate the towns culture, history and heritage.  The Free Festival provides an outdoor celebration that both boosts the local economy and showcases the best of local music, arts and creative talent. 

Simon entered this image as for him it typifies the festival culture across Essex every summer.




Grayson Perry
Sue Ebert

The judges were impressed with the creative composition of her piece as the series of abstract shapes and bright colours makes a beautiful image while still being recognisable as Grayson Perry’s iconic house, ‘A House for Essex’.

Sue submitted this image as she feels “fortunate to have this striking and unique house in Wrabness, located in a stunning setting.  It was designed by Chelmsford born artist, Grayson Perry, as a shrine to fictional Essex woman, Julie.”

The building pays homage to tradition pilgrimage chapels within Essex while being a contemporary building, featuring unique historical and contemporary Essex details such as the Essex Seaxes. An architectural work in it’s own right ‘A House for Essex’ also houses a number of Grayson Perry works. 



John Weedon

Part of sculpture trail in Museum of Power Langford. The display was part of the Maldon Art trail.

John Weedon’s interest in photography began in the 1940's whilst he was at secondary school. He finds joy in taking and then displaying prints that have human-interest, are eye catching and evoke an emotion. Living in Maldon and being a member of the Maldon Camera Club and gives John an incentive to exercise my hobby without travelling too far.

John’s image entitled ‘Foot’ was taken in the grounds of the fascinating Museum of Power, situated just outside Maldon that features a stunning array of steam powered engines and iconic machinery throughout the ages.  The judges thought that not only was this a striking image, but it also demonstrated how culture and heritage can work together to create innovative events.  The artwork is part of a sculpture trail in the grounds of the museum, which in turn is part of the annual Maldon Art Trail (24 September - 2 October 2016), where visitors can see a stunning range of arts and craft exhibited shops and businesses along the high street and in the museum.