HOW well do you know your home town? Good enough to win up to £10,000?

That's the prize pot that could be on offer for the eventual winner of Colchester's Street Hunt, the arts project being run by Colchester Arts Centre with the help of performance artist Joshua Sofaer.

Street Hunt is an artist led treasure hunt that is open to everyone to enter.

Joshua has written a poem using Colchester street names and has published a book of photographs showing the relevant street signs and their surroundings - but with the names removed.

Participants just need to work out what the missing names are to complete the poem in the book. The first person to submit a correctly completed book wins the cash prize. The prize will be the amount of total book sales with a guaranteed minimum of £1,000 and could be as much as £10,000 if all the books are sold for the full price of £10, although those taking part, in true arts centre style, can pay what they can afford.

Joshua, who was born in Cambridge but now lives in London, has only done one other Street Hunt project before, back in 2011 for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival.

"That was over in five days," he smiles. "But at the time I didn't know how difficult or easy it would be to find them. The woman who won it was a nurse and she did it with her partner. They ended up using the money to go on a holiday to the Far East, which was rather nice.

"Back then I had the whole county to choose from but for this one I've been limited to the streets in and around the town. That's been a lot harder for me because there's a lot less names to choose from but I'm hoping it will be harder for those taking part as well."

There are a hundred street names in all to find but as well as the competitive side to it, Joshua is hoping Street Hunt will create a sense of community spirit within the town as well.

"The idea behind it was to create an art project that was inspired by gaming strategy," he says. "But we're hoping, because of the money involved, people will join together to help solve the clues and perhaps in the process re-discover the place where they live or even discover new places they didn't know existed.

"I hope it will encourage people to explore the town in a new way and, by really paying attention, spot the previously unnoticed. Each street name has a background and a story behind it, especially in a town as rich in history as Colchester."

Anthony Roberts, director of Colchester Arts Centre adds: "It's a brilliantly fun way to explore the town. We’re encouraging people to compete as teams or as individuals. Families, companies, clubs, charities, or simply a ruthless gang of intrepid explorers hell bent on getting their hands on the readies, all are welcome and encouraged."

Joshua himself has had a lot of fun exploring the nooks and crannies of Britain's Oldest Recorded Town.

"I got myself a hire car," he begins, "and spent days and days driving around. I've been to Colchester a few times and I did have a bit of a plan beforehand but then there were streets that just wouldn't work and others that I discovered and thought 'I have to include this one somehow'.

"The story that comes out of the poem had to be one which implies a secret magical world underneath the streets of Colchester and that was a lot of fun but the hardest bit was checking and proof reading the book. Because of the competitive nature of the project only I know the clues and so only I could check the book to make sure everything is correct. I've done it eight times and I'm still worried something might be wrong but hopefully it will be fine. If there is it will be the same for everyone and we will make sure people know about it as soon as we do."

Presented by Colchester Arts Centre as part of the town’s Roman River Festival, Street Hunt starts on Saturday from 12pm when the book will be available to buy in person from Red Lion Books in Colchester High Street.

The first person to return a correctly fully completed book to the Colchester Arts Centre will be the winner.

But as well as the chance to win up to £10,000, Street Hunt has also been helping highlight the plight of homeless people through a linked programme of events in collaboration with Beacon House, the charity that helps homeless people.

These include Street Tours led by local residents and artists bringing the stories of Colchester’s streets to life, a specially commissioned large-scale Street Photography exhibition showing images taken by people affected by homelessness and Street Cinema film screenings.

The Street Photography exhibition has particularly caught the imagination of people. The photographers, all with recent experience of homelessness, have created a body of images that mix of intimacy and isolation, a surreal, moving and ultimately deeply real, capturing of everyday street life. The exhibition, appropriately held in a vast disused bus depot, runs to September 23.

The remaining Street Tours take place this weekend with Sarah Harrup's Green Living and Learning and Sara Hayes' Exploring the Walk as Art on Saturday and Dorian Kelly's Lost Theatres of Colchester on Sunday, while Street Cinema at the Old Bus Depot in Queen Street, will see The Motorcycle Diaries on Saturday and then The Wizard of Oz and Thelma and Louise on September 23 at 4.30pm and 8.30pm.

For more information go to

Street Hunt Teaser

The organisers of Street Hunt have sent us a couple of teaser photographs, not included in the actual book, to get people in the mood for the competition, one easy and one hard. See if you can guess which streets they are.