On Weds 18th July we worked with students from Dartford Science & Technology College to kickstart our new summer public art project.
This summer, Dartford Arts Network will be delivering a public art project both to delight the eyes and to raise important issues about the role of plastics in our environment.
Working in and with the Priory Centre, we will be holding 2 x public workshops in September to create three hanging sculptures which will hang from the ceiling of the market place area. These will highlight how our use of plastics affects marine life and our waterways and will aim to convey an action through message – recycle, re-use and look after your environment locally and nationally.
We need the residents of Dartford to help us create these sculptures through printing, painting, sticking, sewing and being generally creative!
Come along on 1st & 8th Sep to the central market hall area of the Priory Centre and get involved in a collaborative art project – all ages and abilities welcome!
Thank you so much to everyone who came to our Land Art event at Stone Fete on Sunday. It was a gloriously sticky summer day and a fabulous atmosphere at Stone Rec.
We arrived early to get our pitch as we had to have one on the edge (you’ll see why) and took our time getting set up while we chatted to neighbouring stallholders and watched the rally cars get into position.
After deciding to make a very basic starting design to give people an idea of what we were doing, we almost instantly began to get some interest from passing children. “how much does it cost?” they asked cautiously. “it’s FREE!” we replied with glee. “Get stuck in!”. Soon enough, kids of all ages (including very grown-up ones) were getting fully absorbed with the task, which was as enthralling to watch as to do.
It was a complete delight to see the differences in the participants; their way of thinking (it took a while before anyone decide to build UP), their type of design, and the levels of concentration and creativity. We deliberately didn’t give a lot of guidance; (the imagination of a child is far beyond what we could proscribe) and although some people initially asked us what they should do, within minutes they were doing far better by themselves. We also allowed the design to evolve, to ebb and flow throughout the day. People were reluctant to dismantle other artworks, but the nature of the activity is its change. It ended very differently from how it began, which was exactly the intention. A number of parents responded that they thought it was a great idea and that they would now be gathering materials in their garden to make their own sculptures. Part of our reason behind doing this was to leave people with a sense of ownership over it, that they can take the idea with them, re-use it, recreate it. You don’t need a studio of art materials to embrace creativity, you can do it anywhere around you.
Overall, we had a great time and chatted to hundreds of local residents, gathering feedback about what kind of arts event they would most like to see in the local area. Thank you so much to everyone who got involved. You lot are awesome!
All photographs (c) Kate Withstandley Photography. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for copies of images.
Here are some pics from our event at the Steam Fair in Dartford’s Central Park in May.
We had a lovely time helping people to complete their squares to add to our community painting of the original Trevithick engine, and had fun with both kids and adults alike colouring, painting and sticking with collage!
Thanks to all our wonderful DAN volunteers and everyone who came and got involved.
Don’t miss our next Dartford Arts Network members’ group exhibition, opening at the Mick Jagger Centre in Dartford on the 1st December and running through Christmas to the 3rd Jan.
The exhibition will feature works by 12 local artists, varying sometimes drastically in medium, theme and imagery. We decided as a group that enforcing a theme would restrict our artists, and that an open show this year would give people the chance to submit a range of art works which convey the topics and issues which inspire them each individually.
The majority of original works in the show will be for sale, as well as limited edition art prints, postcards and notecards also available – Christmas is just around the corner and original, local art makes a wonderfully unique present!
Our Private View takes place on Sat 2nd December 6-8pm in the Mick Jagger Centre foyer; please do come and join us, meet the artists and get a sneak peek of the works before the exhibition really gets going. We often sell a lot of works at the private view, so come along to avoid missing out on your favourite!
Until then… catch the current show at the Mick Jagger Centre, held by our fabulous DAN member Kemi Adeyeme-Wilson (Art4Happiness) and running until our show goes up on 1st Dec.
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
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 artworks 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.
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.
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 a traditional Bengali artform – 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.
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.