Silk River finale comes to Dartford!

Last Wednesday, 20th September, DAN members joined What If Gallery, Dartford Borough Council, Kinetika, and other Silk River participants on the Dartford leg of the Silk River journey.

We assembled at 09.30 at the Bridge Community School, with the Dartford banner flowing beautifully in the morning breeze. Old, young, and those in between then set off on the long walk up the old tramway which leads to the Long Reach river bank. There we greeted the arrival of the travelling banners from the other towns along the Thames, and added our banner to their number. Setting off back along the tramway, we led the visiting travellers into our town. As we approached, the sounds of song travelled on the wind; we soon came upon a wandering minstrel in the form of a guitar-playing musician, serenading us with songs by Dartford’s famous Rolling Stones. Reaching the entrance to the Bridge Development, we were met by Dartford Bridge Community Primary School, who performed a fabulous rendition of Ruby Tuesday (appropriately near to the entrance to Ruby Tuesday Drive!).

Next stop was the What If Gallery, where Ruth Howard and the What If crew had put on a wonderful Indian exhibition, with images showing the process of making the banners as well as showcasing traditional Indian artefacts. We headed back to the war memorial outside Dartford Library, where a large group of local residents had gathered to witness the ceremonial raising of the flags. Before the flag raising began, we were treatedby the Council to a delicious spread in the ever-wonderful Peter Blake Gallery within the library. Homemade samosas and spring rolls filled our hungry tummies after a long, if enjoyable, walk down from the riverside.

Crowds of children from local schools had gathered outside for the flag raising, proudly carrying their own excellent flags they had made as part of the project. Our final stop was the outdoor theatre (via a little intro to the lakes for those not from the area) where children and teachers were gathered and received certificates from Jeremy Kite, from Dartford Borough Council for their work. The explosive finale then featured a magnificent bhangra performance which it was impossible not to join in with!

All in all it was a great day out – celebrating and exploring Dartford, meeting new people, showing off those beautiful banners and recognising the unbelievable amount of work which has gone into making this a success. Thanks go particularly to Kinetika for giving us the opportunity to be involved in such an inspiring project, the What If Gallery, Ruth Howard and Tanya Outen for all their hard work on Dartford’s banner and event, to Dartford Borough Council, and to everyone else who participated in some way.

What a wonderful experience, which we hope is not over yet. Watch this space for more Silk River related events coming up which we may feature in 😉

Photographs (c) Kate Withstandley

DSTC Patachitra for Silk River 2017

Inspired by the Silk River project, in conjunction with Dartford Borough Council and Kinetika, along with visits from traditional Indian artists, Dartford Science and Technology College students created these Patachitra at a recent workshop with us at the What If Gallery in Dartford.

The Silk River project culminates in Dartford tomorrow, with a walk through the town to collect the banner we created with artists from the What If Gallery and Kinetika, at their Purfleet studios. To join us on this visually engaging and culturally fascinating walk, register here and meet us at Dartford Bridge Community Primary School at 09.30am or 10.30am.

Continuing the legacy of the project, the What If Gallery will be holding two Batik silk printing workshops at the Kinetika studios in Purfleet, on 14th Oct and 18th Nov. The courses are £20pp and include all materials and teaching. Please contact Ruth at the What If to book, they are sure to be fantastic days out.

Bridge Community Day Land Art

Following the success of our Land Art sculpting at our recent Spring Fayre, we were invited to deliver a similar event at the Bridge Development Community Day on 19th August.

Tim and Amanda kindly volunteered to host the experience and the results were amazing! The local community visitors threw themselves into the designs and came up with some beautiful sculptures, ranging from mandala patterns, to faces and dancer figures.

A great community engagement tool, as well as art workshop, we’ll certainly be using this model in future events.

Dartford Science & Technology College Community Day Art Workshop – Patachitra Indian Artworks

On 19th July we were lucky enough to host a group of students from Dartford Science and Technology College at a workshop linked to the Silk River project. The workshop took place at the What If Gallery, and its aim was to produce a series of Indian scroll artworks, to be used as part of the Silk River project.

Alison Medd – Director of Learning, Creative Arts & Performance at DSTC – arrived with 16 x Year 10 art students ready to engage with local organisations as part of their annual community day. They were keen to get stuck in and after Julie, Sue and I explained the project and its concept, the ideas began flowing.

The workshop intended to explore the creative process and production of the traditional Bengali artform of Patachitra – whereby an aesthetic narrative is painted onto canvas scrolls, and a song composed to accompany the visual element. The scroll is ‘performed’ by unravelling the physical artwork as the song is sung and the story explained.

As part of the Silk River project which we have worked on recently with Dartford Borough Council, the What If Gallery artists and Kinetika, Dartford was twinned with a town in India along the Hooghly River – Howrah. Two artists from the town visited us in a workshop late last year, and performed their own Patachitra to share their artistic culture with us. I filmed the performance at the time and showed it to the DSTC students before the workshop began, along with some background information.

Through the workshop, the girls have become aware of an important artistic tradition which is embedded in the culture of this far-off Indian town with linked to their own. Hopefully they will be able to perform these works as part of the Silk River event in Dartford on 20th September, which will strengthen that link, encompassing the aims of the overall project in engaging local people and particularly up and coming artists.

DSTC Community Day – Singing Scrolls Workshop for Silk River Project

Murshidabad artists demonstrating their singing scrolls at a recent Silk River meeting

As part of the Silk River project, we are collaborating with Dartford Science & Technology College on their community day on 19th July to create singing scroll artworks which will be displayed and performed at an event in September this year.

We have recently been working on a project called Silk River, which brings together 10 towns along the Thames in an art collaboration to celebrate 70-years of India’s independence. The What If Gallery and DAN artists have designed and produced a 6m long silk Batik banner to represent Dartford, with the help of Kinetika, the arts organisation who are running the project. The banners from each town (and from twinned towns in India) will be walked along the Thames and through each town on a 5 day walk in September this year – Dartford’s day walk will be on 20th September.

As part of the project, we had a visit from some artists from Murshidabad. They gave us a demonstration of their own traditional folk art form – singing scrolls. The artists paint a scroll of paper with images depicting a story or event. They then compose a song to accompany the scroll, and as the song and story progresses, the scroll is unravelled vertically to reveal the next stage of the story. It was a beautiful experience to watch these artworks in action; part visual art, part music, part performance art, they are incredibly engaging and moving.

Our aim for the community day workshop is for the students from DSTC to create some of these types of artworks in groups composed of art and music students. They will then be asked to perform their works as part of the final walk celebrations in Dartford in September when the silk banners are paraded through the town.

We worked with the students last year on our Plastic Fantastic project when they came along to a preparatory event we had set up as a precursor to our public workshops. They were a cheerful and polite group with lots of creativity and it will be great to work with them again and of course the dynamic and inspiring Alison Medd, Director of Learning, Creative Arts & Performance at the college.

Final Silk River workshop tomorrow @ What If Gallery 7pm – JOIN US!

Tomorrow is the final workshop in our Silk River design process. We really want as many of you to be involved as possible, so please come along if you can. It will be lots of fun and really interesting.

The workshop begins at 7pm:
– Artists will need to create line drawings (scaled up if necessary) in order for these to be transferred easily onto the silk at the studios.
– The group started working out an overall design for the banner, with Dartford Bridge at the bottom. They made a final decision on which elements will be featured in the final banner:

SMALLPOX HOSPITAL
SILK PRODUCTION/ENGINEERING
ROLLING STONES
HOLY TRINITY CHURCH
PETER BLAKE
DARTFORD LIBRARY/MUSEUM
CENTRAL PARK – BANDSTAND ETC
DARTFORD BRIDGE AND THAMES RIVER
– Feel free to bring source material but there will be some images provided as a guide too.

Monday 5th June is the beginning of a week of workshops at the Kinetika studios in Purfleet. I can only make a few days, so Tanya from the What If Gallery has agreed to be lead artist in my place, along with Ruth – however, we are still looking for more people to go along to these workshops as assistant artists and help in the creation of the banners. It sounds like a fabulous opportunity to learn new skills:

Two lead artists and assistant artists will interpret and develop the ideas of your community and, working with other artists under the artistic direction of Ali Pretty and lead artist Jacci Todd, design and make a 6 metre silk batik scroll telling the story of your place as referenced by your community.

Participants will learn new or develop existing skills in:
· Drawing, upscaling, laying out.
· Managing the handmade silk.
· Hot waxing.
· Colour mixing and the use of cold water dyes.
· Artistic decision making in the painting of the silks to this large scale.
· The process of double waxing.
Artists will gain an understanding of the necessary procedures needed for the fixing of the dyes and the removal of the wax as well as the necessary sewing and equipment required for the safe public display of the scrolls as flags.

If you would like to come along to the artist residencies, please let Ruth or I know – timings are 11am – 7pm each day. I will be driving there on Monday 5th & Tuesday 6th so am happy for up to 3 people to jump in with me.

There is also a premiere screening next week of a film which has been made about the project – in London 1st June 6.30pm – if you would like to go along to this, please let Ruth know and she will try to arrange tickets.

Dartford’s Marvellous Spring Arts Fayre

Making masks (c)Karen Withstandley Photography

Thank you so much to everyone who came along to our Spring Fayre at the weekend. It was a fantastic day and enjoyed by all. As our jester pranced around the stalls making children and adults alike giggle with his hilarious mime, folk duo Swan & Dyer provided a lovely soundtrack as the fayre got started. Morris group the Screaming Banshees started the dancing off, inviting audience members to get involved in the performance too. Our Land Art sculpture started to take shape and attract the attention of the passing crowds who joined in the construction and design, creating beautiful mandala and linear patterns using natural materials. The beer was flowing, provided by the brilliant Caveman Brewery, and soaked up by delicious handmade pizzas and popcorn. We felt the presence of the Green Man all around the Fayre – from his wonderful sculptural embodiment created by DAN member Nicola Claxton, to appearing in various forms in the street art paint jam artworks which developed throughout the day. Visitors perused the intricate handmade crafts, artworks and jewellery at the stalls, and many sat on the grass and produced pieces of art for the What If Gallery art competition. The art workshop run by the What If Gallery was packed full of kids and adults all day long, as was the face painting stall. Interspersed with all this we had acapella sea shanties performed by local group Swinging the Lead, with the day finished off by the extraordinary 4×4 Bhangra, who had everyone up dancing enthusiastically – even the Mayor was up on the stage! All in all it was a great day, and everyone who was involved in the organisation and management of the project should be very proud of themselves. Thank you to everyone who helped and came along, we hope you all enjoyed it. Feedback from chatting to visitors was that the event had a charming ‘village fayre’ ethos to it, intimate, relaxed and friendly – everything we hoped it would be. If you have any comments about the event, or want to get involved in our projects, please email us at hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com.

What If Gallery art activities (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
What If Gallery art activities (c)Karen Withstandley Photography (2)
The Jester (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Spring Arts Fayre (c)Karen Withstandley Photography (3)
Spring Arts Fayre (c)Karen Withstandley Photography (2)
Screaming Banshees (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Richard Slater Portraits (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
Paint Jam – Rachel Girvan (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Paint Jam – Colin Metcalfe (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Paint Jam – CizeOne (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
NJC Crafts (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Land Art Sculpture (c)Kate Withstandley Photography
Land Art Sculpture (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Land Art Sculpture (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
Face Painting (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Green Man Sculpture by Nicola Claxton (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
Eleanor McEnery crafts (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Craft stall (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
Caveman Brewery (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
Cake and craft stalls (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
Art Competition entries (c)Greg Shrubsole Photography
4x4Bhangra (c)Karen Withstandley Photography
4x4Bhangra (c)Karen Withstandley Photography (3)
4x4Bhangra (c)Karen Withstandley Photography (2)

This Saturday our Green Man comes to life!

Not long now and our Green Man will be rising from the Spring earth of Central park to brighten up your weekend.

Join us this Saturday 20th May for our biennial Spring Arts Fayre in association with Dartford Borough Council:

MUSIC / DANCING / ART COMPETITION / ARTS / CRAFTS / BUY / MAKE / WATCH / PARTICIPATE / OBSERVE / FOOD / DRINK / FOLK BAND / SEA SHANTIES / UNIQUE GREEN MAN CRAFT BEER / POPCORN / JEWELLERY / LAND ART / SCULPTURE / JESTER / BRASS BAND / BHANGRA / KIDS ACTIVITIES / FACE PAINTING and much more…

11AM – 4PM / CENTRAL PARK BANDSTAND

Join us for upcoming Silk River workshops

We at DAN are part of Kinetika’s Silk River Project, in collaboration with Dartford Borough Council & the What If Gallery. The project is part of a year-long programme marking the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and the cultural relationship with the UK.

Local artists and creatives are invited to attend the workshops detailed in the attached flyer – to produce sketches which will be used to build the design for the final silk banners. The batik-printed silk banners will be walked through Dartford in September and culminate in a celebratory community event.

We would love you to be involved in this exciting project with us, so please do join us at the What If Gallery workshops and on the test walk.

RSVP hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com

Silk River Design Workshop

We had our first Silk River workshop last week. It was a a bit last minute, so we didn’t have huge numbers turn up, but it was a really interesting and enjoyable evening and some lovely sketches came out of it.

The next workshop will be on 31st May 7-9.30pm at the What If Gallery in Dartford – it would be lovely to see as many of you there as possible but I know not everyone will be able to do the date.

If you are interested in contributing to the project, but can’t make the workshops, then you’re more than welcome to produce some sketches at home. You can then either drop your works into the What If gallery, give to us at a meeting, or email them over.

You can use whatever medium you like, but we’re focusing mainly on providing the Kinetika artists with fairly simple forms which they can translate onto silk, so don’t spend too much time on small details – bold and graphic is ideal.

We want to represent a selection of Dartford-relevant:
-People/figures/faces
-Buildings/places/things
-Patterns/decorative style

Check out the website for more info, or have a look at our project page

Feel free to contact hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com if you need any clarification or want to ask a question

Arts and Culture in Dartford