Thurrock 2022

After a couple of unusual years, we are up and running with our events once more! Fingers crossed!

Our Thurrock Festival 2022 has planned a number of exciting events for 2022. Check them out here. Look out for updates as well – on our websites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Thurrock Festival 19th Sep 2020

We are super excited that it looks very likely that we will be able to have the first Thurrock Festival this year after all!

With Covid-19 causing the best laid plans in our all our lives to founder, Thurrock Festival has had to postpone its festival event to Sat 19th Sep.

Although Thurrock Festival it will be a far more modest affair than we had planned for originally,  it has given us the delightful opportunity of establishing Thurrock Festival Digital (TFD 2020) with its interactive galleries and extensive sweep of artist’ work. Many of these will be under the banner of C19CC which you can imagine stands for Covid-19 Cultural Collection.

Look out for the large recycled puppet, MANDI, that will be brought to life on the day. She is the acronym for Mandala Adored Nobel Deity Icon and a creation of local artists Cece Luna. You may correctly guess that she will be processing from north of Grays High Street down to Grays Wharf. There, she will be fluttering over the making of a large public participatory mandala facilitated by Kinetika’s T100.

A large banner of Ketna Patel‘s pop art images will flank the area and ambient music to create a calming creative atmosphere has been specially composed by  Thurrock Festival’s artistic director Hi Ching.

For our bumper crop of digital artists’ creations featured on TFD 2020 and to read more about Thurrock Festival and its updates, click here.

Christmas Lights Switch On 2019

We had a wonderful Christmas Lights Switch On on 23rd Nov 2019 with larger crowds than in previous years. Although much rain was forecast, luckily the heavens held and we only had a bit of drizzle here and there. AAAHA’s Snow and Byzantine Angels and stilt performers must have held up the skies!

Everyone involved had such a great time and everything went along smoothly.

A big thank you for all the wonderful hard work put in by the cast and costume apprentices tagged here. Plus all the local performers – singers, dancers and chorus groups who gave a brilliant show on the Grays High Street stage. Lovely decorations made by the community at The Community House, Beacon Hill Academy and support from the staff at Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions, Love Grays, Kiwi Productions and Thurrock Council, Riverside Community, Community Voluntary Services and all our many, many volunteers!

Photos here.


TIC Film Festival 2019 coming up!

A film festival for everyone with a dash of diversity and invisibility made visible!


Thurrock International Celebration | TIC Film Festival | is back to entertain with an even bigger and more varied programme than last year. Now in its second year, it has a range of films for the family, different local communities and special interest groups. Tickets are totally affordable. £5 for adults and £2.50 for under 18s/students across the board. And children get free popcorn and a drink in line with many other family screenings at Thameside.

The popular Disney classic Pocahontas is screened on Sat 14th Sep at 11.30am. This is followed by the iconic Bollywood classic, Devdas, with its thrilling, spectacular dance numbers – a film lauded by many critics from all corners of the world as one of the best films ever made. This is preceded by a short Bollywood dance workshop to get audiences in the mood.

After this, there will be delicious Nepalese food on offer in the foyer with entertainment by Grays Pathfinders before the festival ends with the romantic Nepali film Nai Nabhannu La 5.

On Fri 13th Sep, there is a unique occasion to view International and British Diversity Filmsselected from submissions especially for the Festival. This is followed by a panel discussion ‘What Does Representation in Film Mean’. Then, excitingly, TIC Film Festival’s first award Ceremony for winning films submitted will be held.

In honour of the 21 Sikh soldiers who were massacred bravely defending the British Empire at Saragarhi, the new Indian historical drama Kesari is shown next. Introducing the film will be leaders from Grays Gurdwara who will speak briefly about the history of the Sikhs in Thurrock.

In line with invisibility, Rafiki, a banned Kenyan film in its country of origin, will be the first Festival film on 11th Sep. It is a beautiful film about the love between two young African women.

Importantly, new shorts from a fresh batch of film students from Anglia Ruskin University and South Essex College will be a great opportunity to spot the talented filmmakers of the future. These are free to watch in the high quality setting of Thameside Theatre on 12th Sep.

Then a rare jewel Around China With A Movie Camera (1900-1948). These films – all from the collection of the British Film Institute National Archive – were made by a wealth of British and French filmmakers, from professionals to intrepid tourists, colonial-era expatriates and Christian missionaries. Exploring 50 years of Chinese history across a diverse range of footage, the collection includes what might be the oldest surviving film to be shot in China – unseen for over 115 years. 12th Sep.

This event made possible by BFI’s Film Audience Network, with the support of The National Lottery. 

BFI FAN | Thameside Theatre | Thurrock CVS

Creative Director | Hi Ching | | 07846 614691
TIC Film Festival is produced by AAAHA

TFF_2019_Bro_Schedule V8

Henry makes the press!

TICC 2019 was such a great success. There was real community engagement. Thanks to Alison of Als Peculiarart who made two wonderful effigies of Henry de Grey with waste materials. Children descended upon him, animating him  with life, reminding us that Grays is named after Henry who died 800 years ago this year.

Henry is now touring Thurrock libraries. Currently at Thameside Complex.

Sir Henry rides again - Thurrock & South Essex Independent Newspaper copy

TICC 2019


I’m so excited about TICC 2019. It has expanded way beyond my expectations!

When I moved to Grays just over two years ago, I felt that there was a need to set up welcoming occasions for people of all diversity to come along to get to know each other, to be visible, and to share cultures.  I discovered the many international anniversaries that have enriched the heritage of Thurrock. How wonderful it would be to animate this history with present day activities in an atmosphere of friendship and creativity.

This is the first year of my being given free reign to execute out what I wanted. There was some suspicion it might all get rather chaotic! But I was amazed at how locals and organisations embraced my aspirations.

Well, we are almost there. And if you can, do come along to TICC 2019 and experience some crazy creativity.  I hope that you will meet new friends, taste  some surprising food and enjoy a wonderful sense of comradeship and joy!


Chan Buddhism in Contemporary Life



Seminar in Chinese (with translator)


Venerable Man Chien (President of Fo Guang Shan Overseas Executive Council)

30 June 2016


Khalili Lecture Theatre, SOAS Main Building, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG

This event is part of the Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition at Asia House supported by the Pure Land Foundation.

In this talk, Venerable Yi-Kong examines the nature of Chan (Sanskrit Dhyana) in Chinese Buddhism from the perspectives of Mahayana texts including The Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom (Mahāprajñāpāramitā śāstra), Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch (Liuzu tanjing), Vimalakīrti Sūtra (Weimojing). Introducing the function, concept and practice of dhyana, she considers the relevance of its practice in contemporary life.


Venerable Man Chien was born in Tao-yuan Province, Taiwan in 1961. She took monastic tonsure under Venerable Master Hsing Yun in 1987 and was fully ordained the following year. Aside from having served as Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Nan Tien Temple in Australia and Fo Gung Shan in New Zealand, she also held office as Dean of Tsung Lin University, Executive Director of Fo Guang University, Director of Nanhua University. Her current positions include the President of Fo Guang Shan Overseas Executive Council, Head Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Europe and Deputy-Secretary General of BLIA, Europe.

Organiser: SOAS China Institute

Contact email:

Contact Tel: + 44 020 7898 4823

One-Stroke Calligraphy

One-Stroke Calligraphy Exhibition Poster




28th June – 9th July 2016

Mon to Fri 09:00 – 18:00

Sat 10:00 – 18:00

Free admission

Asia House 

63, New Cavendish Street,

London W1G 7LP.

“If one must speak of the value of One-Stroke Calligraphy, one can only say that they are but the product of the desire to establish good affinities and bring happiness to people by a monastic who has renounced lay life for seventy-eight years. I hope that everyone can take home with them the Dharma within my writing and the Dharma joy of faith”

Hsing Yun


Forty-eighth patriarch of the Linji Chan School, Venerable Master Hsing Yun was born in 1927 in Jiangsu province, China. At age twelve, he entered the Qixia monastery in Nanjing as a novice, receiving full ordination at age eighteen.

After arriving in Taiwan in 1949, he worked tirelessly to promote Humanistic Buddhism. In 1967, he founded the Fo Guang Shan Monastery with the objective of propagating Buddhism through education, public service and culture. In 1991, he founded the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA), the lay arm of Fo Guang Shan. Today, the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist order has over 200 branch temples worldwide, working hand in hand with BLIA Chapters to promote Humanistic Buddhism. Over more than seven decades, Venerable Master Hsing Yun has devoted most of his life to his cause. His achievements have been recognized internationally through numerous awards, including the Buddhist Great Contribution Award conferred by Chuan Leekpai, Prime Minister of Thailand at the 2000 World Fellowship of Buddhists Conference, the Award for Outstanding Achievement from the United States Republican Party’s Asian Committee in 2007, and a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Most Influential Chinese in 2013.


“Born into a poor family, I received no formal education as a child: I was educated in a Buddhist seminary. But war and unrest in China meant that life was a struggle and left no room for cultivating calligraphy.

When I first arrived in Taiwan, I lived in a small dilapidated temple. I began writing characters on pieces of paper as a way to liven up the wall during the chanting rituals. Though ashamed of my calligraphy, I persevered.

In 1980, a devotee chanced upon me writing some characters on a piece of paper. He walked up to me and discreetly handed me a red packet with a generous amount of money. I was rather taken aback and tried to return the money, but he refused, so I picked up the paper with my writing and gifted it to him. Word got out, and other requests followed. Realizing that my calligraphy brings others joy boosted my confidence in it tremendously. From then on, I would write a scroll with inspiring words for each New Year.

In 2005, my disciple Ru Chang organized an exhibition of my calligraphy in the National Art Gallery Malaysia without my knowledge. I was shocked and surprised by its popular reception. Since then, many exhibitions have been held in different countries. I encourage people to not just look at my writing but to look instead for my heart in these writings. For me, it is the bit of compassion that I can show you.

Poor nutrition in my youth caused many health problems in the following decades. In recent years, complications from diabetes have caused me to go blind. Since last June, I have been unable to read. But I am determined to continue to write. Since I cannot see, I can only estimate the spacing between characters. Once my brush is dipped in ink, I must complete it within one stroke – otherwise, I will not know where to start with the second stroke. Relying on my intuition, no matter how many characters from a phrase I need to write, I must accomplish it in one stroke in order to reach my goal. Thus, it is called ‘One-Stroke Calligraphy.’”


Founded by Bruno Wang, the Pure Land Foundation reflects his well-established interests in meditation, holistic wellbeing, art and music. The Foundation supports institutions, charities and programmes that promote social, spiritual and emotional wellness, with an emphasis on art and music.

Pure Land in Buddhism refers to the realm of higher consciousness and peace. Although not based in any religion, the Foundation seeks to create and promote the interconnectedness and sense of “pure land” in our daily lives.


SOAS is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. It uniquely combines language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus and has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with these regions.


Established in 1992, London Fo Guang Shan Temple is an active centre of Buddhist worship and teaching. It is one of the worldwide branches of Fo Guang Shan Monastery propagating the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism advocated by Venerable Master Hsing Yun. BLIA London was established in the same year as its lay arm.