Category Archives: Silk River

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.

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.

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