Thank you to all of those who attended our workshops, and to the artists who are currently creating work. We’re really excited to be working with some talented artists and will be posting progress updates shortly! Please read our update below.
There’s still time to get involved – if you’d like to create a board (measuring 1.2m x 1.2m), please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Earlier this year Dartford Arts Network [DAN] proposed a project to place work by local artists or on local themes on the hoardings at the Lowfield Street site. The idea had been floated by groups, individuals and on a number of social media forums and we felt that DAN was well placed to take the project forward. A proposal was made to Dartford Borough Council which threw its support behind the idea and offered resources for the project and also to act as mediator in seeking consent from the landowners. Landowners subsequently offered their support to the project, subject to a final approval of art and visuals to be installed!
The project was named ‘Dartford Assembly’ – with the aim of creating a work by ‘assembling’ numerous elements from multiple sources.
We want to update everyone, including artists, on where the project has reached so far, and what our next steps are in moving the project forward towards final sign-off and realisation.
The goal is to create an overall design for the first phase of this project – allowing scope for individual works, but bringing them together visually. To underlie this process, DAN have been undertaking the following research and development tasks in recent weeks in conjunction with developing an overarching design;
• During July and August four all-day workshops were run on alternate Saturdays at One Bell Corner and in the Orchards Shopping Centre. These introduced participants to a number of techniques, including mono-printing and collage, and were successful in involving local people of all ages in the creation of content, and the development of ideas, for the project.
• A campaign on Twitter and Facebook was also used to elicit quotes and memories from the local public.
• Artists were invited to put forward proposals for artworks to be included and featured in the final outcome.
• Most recently, a number of roughly 1m2 square boards have been offered to artists to create works which can also be added to the assembly.
• A short video is being produced which charts the design and execution of the work, and collects interviews with local people.
Of course, Lowfield Street is a site in transition and everyone, including the council and DAN, want to see a positive regeneration of the site. That’s good for Dartford but limits the life of the artwork on hoardings. We are approaching this by committing as much of the original and locally produced artwork as possible to boards that can be dismounted from the hoardings and which have the potential to be displayed elsewhere in the future.
The first steps demanded a combination of graphics and typography created and developed by the DAN team, publicly sourced content from the aforementioned workshops, local artists’ work captured and printed onto waterproof foamboard, or original works returned on the metre-square boards. The last of those will be sealed to protect them from the weather. These will extend along up to 82m of the hoardings, beginning adjacent to Barclays’ Bank and culminating just past the old Ripley’s Market.
We are now working towards producing the definitive representation of the finished piece for the landowner and community to see – not an easy challenge since it contains individual works from participating artists which have not yet been completed. By working closely with artists, creating visuals from the work in progress we are piecing that final design together.
All this may have taken a while but it has resulted in engagement with many, many people at public workshops and with artists with many different and interesting ideas. It has been a rewarding time.
This inter-play between the design work and the individual artists’ work-in-progress will result in an overall design which takes us to the really exciting step – the installation of the Dartford Assembly project on the hoardings. Our objective is for landowner sign off to be achieved as soon as we can submit our visuals.
During September those visuals are being developed in parallel with:
• Regular communication with participating artists about the content of their works – ideally collecting sketches and images of work in progress, or even of completed work, along the way
• Curation of the content from the summer workshops
• Development of the designs for graphics, typography and linking pieces.
This is a challenging creative and logistical task but we want Dartford Assembly to be something really special.
Finally, please don’t think that this project is now closed to new ideas from the community or local artists. It’s not. The Council have asked us to find ways to incorporate further designs, involve more artists and listen to more great ideas from local people. This gives us the opportunity to continue welcoming proposals from groups and individuals who may not have believed Dartford Assembly was for them. The Council has told us that it is open to new ideas – from street art to sculpture, from photography to poetry. All they ask is that the wider community are engaged and that artists work collaboratively and give support to each other and the project. If you are a local artist please do let us know if you would like to be involved in helping to produce more content for the project as it unfolds.