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

1st Silk River Design Workshop – Tues 11th April at 7-9.30pm at the What If Gallery

Our first Silk River workshop is taking place on Tuesday 11th April 7-9.30pm at the What If Gallery in Dartford.

Please bring with you any images you might want to use as inspiration, we will have some there for reference. We will provide materials but feel free to bring anything which you would specifically like to work with. We will be focusing on sketch concepts and the images need to be fairly simple line drawings for the banner, rather than worked up paintings or detailed drawings.

Here is a starter list of some Dartford places & ‘things’ which have been mooted as possible subjects for the banner. It’s not exclusive:
Brooklands Lake / Gunpowder / Tunnel in park / Fish / Brewery / Len Goodman / Daren Bread / Beach huts / Mill / Bandstand / River darent / Holy Trinity Church & St George Mural / Library / Peter Blake / Henry VII / Henry VIII / Museum / Market / Watt Tyler / Duke of York (East Hill) / Anne of Cleeves / Dartford Creek / Glaxo / Warehouses / Mick Jagger Way / Bridge Community School / Medicine plants on hospital site / Road to smallpox hospital / Fireworks / Marshes / Animals / Aerodrome / London (Roman) Road

Here’s a reminder of what the project is about…

Kinetika, an arts organisation based in Purfleet, is undertaking a project to highlight the history of the silk trade routes from India to London, with the Thames river channel being a key route. Dartford Borough Council are leading a project to involve Dartford in this. Kinetika have invited 10 towns situated along the river Thames to take part in this project and Dartford is one of these. Each town is ‘twinned’ with a corresponding town in India – Dartford’s twin town is Howrah. The aim of the project is to create a set of large (6m long) banners – painted with wax, and made of silk (referencing the silk trade). These banners will then be walked through the town at an event in September this year. Kinetika are walking through each town involved in the project and so linking the independent events in each town to create one larger overall event. They will be doing a parallel walk along the Hooghly River in India.

Each town is asked to select some ‘lead artists’ – these artists are responsible for producing design concepts for the production of the banner. During the first week in June these lead artists will take concept designs to the Kinetika studio in Purfleet and produce together the banners which will be used in the walk in September.

The lead artists from Dartford for this project are DAN Chair Kate Withstandley and What If Gallery director & DAN Member Ruth Howard. They will be organising and hosting two design workshops at the What If Gallery on 11th April and 31st May 7 – 9.30pm, where local artists are invited to come along to produce sketch deigns to be incorporated into the final banners.

For further information please contact hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com

Traces – A DAN Group Exhibition

Traces – A DAN Group Exhibition

We at Dartford Arts Network (DAN) have been busy organising our newest project – a group exhibition of our work at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford.  Although primarily a music venue, this exciting building also has a large exhibition space in its foyer and hosts a regularly changing show of art works.

As a group, we aim to hold an annual show, whereby all subscribed members are invited to show a collection of their work. This year we have chosen the theme ‘Traces’ to guide the subject matter. We chose this theme as it can be widely interpreted, and gives enough scope for all of our artists to submit their works, which will inevitably vary quite dramatically in process and style. It does, however, provide a linking thread between the images. A viewer might find connections between two pieces of work which previously wouldn’t have seemed connected. In this way, each work gains a new aspect for the viewer to discover. Traces could be ephemeral; a spiritual trace, or an emotional trace. It could be physical; marks of activity, or history. It will be fascinating to see how each artist has interpreted the theme from their own unique perspective.

Featuring a variety of mediums, sizes and styles, the exhibition will showcase a section of the huge wealth of talent which we cultivate within our group.

The show is open from 2nd November until 30th November, in the foyer at the Mick Jagger Centre. Our Free Private View is being held on 19th November 6.30pm – 9pm, where we will be giving an extra 10% off the price of all works sold on the night with the flyer. Come along and discover which ‘traces’ you can find.

To provide a soundtrack to the evening, we have teamed up with Los Endos – the best Genesis tribute band you’ll ever see – and are holding our exhibition Private View on the night of their show at the Mick Jagger Centre. The PV will begin an hour before the show, and we strongly recommend you combine visiting our show with seeing the band too. You won’t regret it! Tickets are £18 and available from the Mick Jagger Centre box office – www.themickjaggercentre.com / 01322 291100

Traces – A DAN Group Exhibition

Yoghurt-pot octopuses, a plastic-packed tree and a world map to make you rethink your recycling

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On Saturday 17th we held our second and final Plastic Fantastic workshop. Again, public response was great, with plenty of adults and children creating beautiful works of art from our treasure trove of plastic waste.

Our first guest was an adult, Ann-Marie, who had been sent our way by the Project Dirt newsletter – it was great to meet someone who had come specifically to see us and the project. Her creation was a stunning Indian-inspired elephant, complete with jewels and hand-drawn patterns.

Throughout the day we had a variety of guests, but all were inspired by the opportunity to just get stuck in and create. One girl and her brother stayed for a couple of hours, making piece after piece and adding it to the tree. You could almost see the creative urge pouring out of them!

Drawings/elephants/yoghurt pot caterpillars and sea snakes, CD sun catchers, CD case compositions, crayon pictures and paintings were all added to our tree – both on the branches and on the base.

We also chatted to visitors who were interested in the concept and drawn in by the map sculpture and images in our ‘Ideas Workshop’.

Both the map and tree sculpture are now on display in the Priory Centre Market Place for a week. The barrier we created for safety reasons was also decorated by visitors to the workshop – some with the help of our volunteer artists. They are now adorned with paintings and drawings of sea creatures and plenty of glitter!

The sculptures were formally opened this morning by the Mayor and Mayoress of Dartford, and will be on display until Sunday 25th September.

Dartford Arts Network would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has made this project possible – including:

Ellandi / Project Dirt / The Priory Centre / Wickes Dartford / Dartford Borough Council / Mayor & Mayoress of Dartford, all our workshop participants and of course, all the DAN volunteers who have worked incredibly hard to make this a success. Thank you all. 

If you would like more information on how to get involved with future projects, or how to join up and become a member, please email us at hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com, message us on Facebook, or tweet us @dartfordarts

 

Arts and Culture in Dartford