This September, London’s longest pier becomes the city’s newest public art space. Julia Snowdin is the first artist to have the opportunity, through the Pier Commission project, to reimagine Erith’s iconic pier through a transformative textile installation that will animate the space, celebrate the town’s dynamic history and encourage participation in the unique landscape and culture of this riverside location. 

This project is sponsored by Orbit and Wates Residential.


Snowdin’s artwork comprises a series of storytelling ship’s sails, designed and produced in partnership with Erith residents. The sails will be hung around the pier to create outdoor spaces and perspectives in which visitors can sit, relax, draw, play and be. The hole-punched designs allow light to travel through the fabric, creating a patterned and shimmering effect on the pier; at night, the sails will be lit with different hues enticing people to the river.

Across September there will be a range of activities engaging groups in the artwork. These include opportunities for school groups, artist workshops, and family days creating origami sailboats and sea-shanty musical instruments. This year The Pier Commission has been developed alongside the Erith Lighthouse project, building a programme of cultural events and activities in Erith from 7 – 24 September as part of the Totally Thames Festival.

The commission is organised by The Exchange and sponsored by Orbit and Wates Residential. The partners invited proposals from practitioners to develop an idea that would transform this new public art space for the period of the Totally Thames Festival. A total of 75 proposals were submitted from all over the world, and with the support of a group of judges, this number was whittled down to four, from which the public selected Snowdin’s proposal.


Historic Images of Erith Pier