Latest Visitor News and Updates

Satirical Artist Cold War Steve Exhibition

Medway will host one of the country’s first new artwork exhibitions this week.

Cold War Steve Meets The Outside World will be on display at Riverside Country Park from Friday, 18 September.

The exhibition supports Medway’s aspirations to become UK City of Culture 2025 which would create a legacy of opportunities for local people and bring significant economic benefits to the area.

Back at the start of 2020 Birmingham artist Christopher Spencer, otherwise known as artist Cold War Steve, was about to set out on a nationwide tour of pubs, hairdressers, village halls, libraries, shops and front rooms as part of his unique You, Me and Cold War Steve do-it-yourself downloadable exhibition.

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit and during lockdown plans started to emerge for a new idea to leave the house and meet the outside world again. 

This September and October Cold War Steve will unveil four ambitious new outdoor artworks starting in Medway.

Cold War Steve Meets The Outside World will feature 11 free to view outdoor artworks on the shoreline of Riverside Country Park in Rainham. The exhibition launches on Friday, 18 September at 2pm (high tide) and will be on display until Sunday, 27 September.

Anyone planning on visiting the exhibition is reminded to continue to follow social distancing guidelines.

Cold War Steve specialises in surreal, satirical collages originally made on his phone and iPad. Since 2016 Cold War Steve’s Twitter account, with almost daily posts, has seen his following increasing by the day. Three solo exhibitions, two books with Thames & Hudson, commissions for the National Galleries of Scotland, Whitworth in Manchester, Birmingham Museum and Gallery, a giant billboard installation at Glastonbury Festival and an international TIME magazine cover have all followed.

Riverside Country Park is the perfect spot for this installation 

Cold War Steve aka Christopher Spencer, said: “I’m well excited to start the 'Cold War Steve Meets The Outside World’ exhibition here in Medway. The Riverside Country Park is the perfect spot for this nature trail installation; the mix of beautiful shoreline, wildlife, industrial and post industrial landscape is wonderful. The 11 pieces on display are a kind of 'CWS 2020 best of’, some of my biggest pieces from this crazy year that have never been displayed anywhere before, plus a brand new piece made especially for Medway. The event has been designed to be viewed from a distance with social distancing in mind. An art trail throughout the park and on the shoreline. Bring your binoculars!”

Medway is attracting national artists 

Paul Cowell, Head of Culture and Libraries at Medway Council, said: “It is fantastic that Medway will host the first part of Cold War Steve’s national exhibition. Riverside Country Park is an ideal location for an unusual exhibition such as this, with Cold War Steve’s satirical artwork being displayed on the picturesque shoreline. We understand how important creativity is to both our own personal wellbeing but how it can also help boost community spirits, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. It is incredibly exciting that Medway is attracting national artists to exhibit their new work here. This exhibition supports Medway’s aspirations to become UK City of Culture 2025 which is a huge opportunity to put Medway on the map and show the rest of the country what we have to offer.”

Showcasing world-class creativity 

Imogen Robertson, Bid Director at Medway 2025, said: “Our Medway 2025 City of Culture bid is all about turning Medway’s green spaces, shopping centres, stadiums and public areas into venues that showcase world-class creativity for everyone. We’re proud to welcome people from across Medway and the rest of the country to Rainham to see Cold War Steve’s artworks at Riverside Country Park as we bid to be UK City of Culture in 2025.”

Riverside Country Park in Rainham is a great location for the exhibition with free on-site parking, walking trails and picnic areas for people wishing to visit the exhibition and spend the day in Medway. It is also a short drive or bus journey away Gillingham town centre and the railway station and has good motorway links with the M25 and M2 for visitors from further afield.

Residents and visitors are encouraged to continue to follow social distancing guidelines when visiting the exhibition.

Published 17 September 2020


See the latest news on the re-opening of Medway and its visitor attractions on our Covid-19 updates page.

Update on Christmas Events in Medway

Medway Council has taken the difficult decision not to hold the Rochester Christmas Market, Dickensian Christmas Festival or Christmas light switch-on events this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Unfortunately, due to the nature and popularity of the annual events it would be difficult to put the current government social distancing guidelines in place to help keep residents safe and stop the virus from spreading.

However, in the true spirit of Christmas, festive lights will be on display across Medway for residents and visitors to enjoy when they visit Medway’s five town centres to do their Christmas shopping. Medway has a diverse range of high street retailers and independent shops giving residents a wide range of choice for bespoke gift ideas and Christmas favourites. Medway also has a number of restaurants, coffee shops and bistros for shoppers to take a break in.

The health and wellbeing of residents, visitors and staff is our highest priority

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr Alan Jarrett, said: “Although we understand that this news may be disappointing, the health and wellbeing of our residents, visitors and staff is our highest priority and we must do all we can to ensure our COVID-19 rate remains low. An awful lot of time and planning goes into organising our Christmas events and, as we do not know what the government advice will be on mass gatherings in November and December, we have made the difficult decision not to hold them this year.

“We have all been affected by the ongoing pandemic and it has been truly heart-warming to see our residents coming together to help each other in these challenging times. We must all continue to play our part and stop the virus from spreading.”

Shop local, shop Medway

Cllr Jarrett added: “Even though the usual festivities will not be held it will begin to look a lot like Christmas in November as festive lights across Medway will be switched on for residents to enjoy when they visit Medway’s town centres. I would encourage residents to continue supporting our town centres and helping Medway’s economy grow once again. It’s really important we get behind local businesses and shop in Medway.

"To paraphrase Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, we will honour Christmas in all our hearts, and try to keep it all the year.”

Published 2 September 2020