Last May, DAN rocked up to the FREE Dartford Steam Fair in Central Park for the first time, bringing with us a black and white image ready for the public to infuse with their creativity and colour – and that they did! After a fun-filled day interacting and engaging with the public, we stood back and admired the results of our creative collaboration…
This year on 11th May in Central Park, we’re back again, with another chance for you to stamp your imagination on our community artwork. Bring kids, grown ups, grannies & grandads dogs, cats, and whomever else you like to this FREE ART EVENT and join us in expressing your artistic response to our not-so-mystery image at the top, which we will unveil fully on social media next week!
As well as our art event, there will be a whole host of fabulous Steam Engines from across British history. Kids of all ages (and especially the grown up ones!) will be mesmerised and wide-eyed at the huge real-life engines, some of which you can explore inside and out. There will be food, entertainment and most of all a lovely community atmosphere.
Come along to this wonderful FREE event on 11th May to Central Park (10am-5pm) and find us in the main marquee!
We have some very exciting plans for 2019, with around 5 projects in the pipeline!
We will be starting to send out information about what’s coming up very soon, but in the meantime, if you would like to sign up to our mailing list for more information you can do so here.
We would also love for you to join us as a member! You do not have to be a professional artist – a love of/interest in art and a willingness to get involved in boosting the creative aspects of the local area are the only things you need 🙂 If you are a professional artist, however, we can help you with becoming involved in/organising local exhibitions and events, making useful local contacts and engaging in professional development opportunities.
We at DAN believe everyone has an artist inside them, so if you are interested in exploring your artistic side in more depth through community projects, group exhibitions, and a whole host of other opportunities, do consider coming along to one of our monthly meetings. We invite new members along to our Creative and Social Meetings (which we alternate with our more administrative Business meetings).
Our next Creative and Social meeting will be in the first week of April, then first week of June after that. Email us at
to find our where and when to come along, and keep an eye out for what we have coming up this year.
Love DAN x
DAN member Nadia Perrotta has made this fab short film about DAN and our events this summer. Please LIKE on YouTube and share away everywhere!
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 email@example.com for copies of images.
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
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook, or tweet us @dartfordarts
A huge thanks to everyone who came to our public workshop in the Priory Centre on Saturday, we had a fantastic time and our plastic wishing tree is now looking beautifully full.
We were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of the local shoppers, and barely had a quiet moment all day. The children loved it, and so did the adults – we even had some impromtu face painting from one dad who got stuck in!
So many beautiful and individual decorations were made for our tree – each one unique and carefully crafted by concentrated little minds. We have lots of stunning CD sun-catchers, dazzling as they spin and the light hits them, plastic elephants from milk bottles, plastic lid octopuses, plastic bottle tulips (which make great flowers for our tree branches!), yoghurt pot caterpillars, and much more. Some children went fully freestyle and one young chap created a beach scene within his yoghurt pots – very creative!
We chatted with people in our Ideas Workshop about where our plastic goes and how it can end up in the bellies of sea creatures through our mismanagement of waste. Our plastic bottle map helped us to convey this message, and was an eye-catching focal point to start a dialogue with passers by. One visitor was so moved by the images in our unit, that she immediately photographed them to share on social media in order to, as she said, ‘raise awareness’. This is exactly what we hoped for in creating this project, and being able to see the message about waste and recycling having an impact, both through art making and through discussion, was a great feeling.
We have another workshop coming up this Saturday 17th September. Same time (10am – 4pm) same place (Priory Centre Market Place).
Our first workshop was so successful that we used up most of the materials which we had collected for both workshops! We will be spending this week collecting more, but if you are planning to come along on Saturday and have any of the following at home going spare, please do bring them along – clean and dry please!.
The map and tree sculpture will on display in the Priory Centre for a week following the workshop on Saturday. There will be an official opening by the Mayor & Mayoress of Dartford on the morning of 19th September at 10am. Do come and see your work be admired by the Mayor, and spread the word to friends and family.
See you on Saturday!