Prize winning artist Edward Allington recently met with Sunny Crouch OBE, chair of Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation’s Marketing Committee to visit his Sun Arch sculpture on the banks of the Thames at Purfleet.

The art work was commissioned by Commissions East and funded by Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation and Parklands, to celebrate the opening of the new Veolia Mardyke Bridge, which provides a direct link between the Garrison Estate and RSPB Rainham Marshes.

The Sun Arch includes a 1,000,000 year timeline of the area compiled by Thurrock Heritage officer Jonathan Catton, in celebration of Purfleet’s rich and varied history.

Edward won the bid to design the sculpture, which was lifted into place earlier this year, and visited Thurrock several times for inspiration for his artwork.

He says: “I found myself moved and inspired by the confluence of river, wildlife and community at Purfleet, it was a real surprise.

“There is movement in my design for the Sun Arch which is directly inspired by the power and motion of the river. I couldn't believe the pace and the energy the river creates when in full flow. It really moves and swells and is even quite scary.”

Talking to local people opened up another route down which Edward’s creative juices could flow.

“One of the most amazing people I met was Demus Lee of the Purfleet Community Forum, who has real passion for the place. He told me about the colours on the river and differences you can see at various times of the day,” said Edward.

“He is right, particularly at sunset when they are really beautiful – golds, silvers, bronzes – it was why I choose to work in stainless steel. Not only is it a durable material suitable for the site, but it also reflects and reacts to the colours around it.”

The views of the artist are shared by Sunny Crouch OBE, board member of Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, who has played a leading role in supporting development in Purfleet and across the borough.

“We hope the sculpture will be not only much admired but also encourage the community to enjoy this wonderful place.

“The Sun Arch and timeline really is a wonderful reflection of the regeneration process.  It was created out of the feelings and vision of the community. Regeneration isn't just about building, it is also about releasing imagination and capturing the spirit of a place and that is what Edward has encapsulated in the Sun Arch.  It is a wonderful legacy,” she said.

Artist Edward Allington meets Sunny Crouch OBE of Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation and partners at Purfleet's new Sun Arch sculpture

About the artist, Edward Allington


Born Troutbeck Bridge, Westmoreland, England

1968 - 71

Lancaster College of Art, Lancaster

1971 - 74

Central School of Art and Design, London

1983 - 84

Cultural History, Royal College of Art, London


Prizewinner of the ”John Moores Liverpool Exhibition”, Walker Art Gallery Liverpool

1991 - 93

Gregory Fellow in Sculpture, Leeds University

1993 - 96

Research Fellow in Sculpture, Manchester Metropolitan University


Sargant Fellow, The British School at Rome


Head of Graduate Sculpture, Slade School of Fine Art, University College London


Lives and works in London