Tag Archives: dartford

Tree of Life Project reaches halfway point!

Nicola, Sue and the team have been busy bees, progressing the project to its current halfway point. So far, we have had both a workshop for the Dartford Science and Technology (DSTC) College Community Day and a public workshop in the Priory Centre, where passing shoppers and their families joined us in constructing the Tree of Life and producing decorations for its leaves.

Coming up this weekend is the next instalment of the public workshops on Sunday 11th August, followed by the final day of creating and a public opening on 17th August.

The DTSC Community Day took place on 18th July and kicked off the project with a hive of activity. The 12 students from the college split into groups to begin working on different areas of construction. One group began formulating strategies for constructing the body of the tree, while others created bark, leaves and decorations. These themes continued through the next two workshops, with DAN artists and volunteers sparking discussion with participants about the importance of clean air and constructing branches to develop the body of the tree.

The next two workshops will continue and then complete the sculpture, with further branches added to heighten and expand the overall shape, as well as installing the bark, leaves and embellishments created by the public. Following the final workshop on 17th August, the finished sculpture will be unveiled in the Market Hall by the Mayor of Dartford, as an example of environmental education and raising awareness through art; something we at DAN feel strongly is of key importance in moving forward as a society.

The next public workshop is this Sunday 11th August 10am – 4pm…
..followed by the final workshop on 17th August 10am – 4pm and a public opening at 5pm on the same day.

If you would like to get involved please do come along on the day, or feel free to contact us for more information about getting involved or becoming a member at hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com.

Celebrating Art in Care with Priory Mews

Patricia creating her Transient Art self portrait

We were excited to be able to visit the Priory Mews Care Home a few weeks ago, to take part in their annual Care Home Open Day, which this year was themed Celebrating Art in Care. Well-being coordinator Ben contacted us and asked if we would like to be involved and we jumped at the chance to work with elderly patients, as some of our artists have worked with elderly people in the past and are aware of the rewarding outcomes which can be delivered through carefully curated process and art facilitation.

We engaged with a number of residents through both Storytelling and Transient Art; the process of connection and production being the key feature in this project. These methods were used deliberately, as people suffering from dementia often struggle with restrictive activities. We implicitly encouraged the residents to be free to tell their story in their own way, and to create self portraits using a variety of free moving objects on a board.

The experience was a joy for us as artists, with residents opening up about their lives through funny, engaging, inspiring and fascinating stories. As they chatted to our storyteller Caroline, Nadia filmed the process and sketched portraits of the individuals.

Meanwhile, at the parallel activity where residents were encouraged to create a self portrait, people such as Patricia and Bob were able to share their past experiences, chatting as they worked, the artistic activity sparking memories.

It was, overall, an immensely rewarding experience which we hope to repeat in the near future!

Bob with his fabulous blue-eyed Transient Art self portrait

Visual outcome of the Storytelling sessions

TREE OF LIFE WORKSHOPS AT PRIORY CENTRE

This summer we are supporting DAN Lead Artist Nicola Claxton in her Tree of life project, with art workshops at the Priory Centre across the coming months to create a sustainable sculpture raising public awareness of environmental concerns.

These events follow on from previous DAN projects, including last year’s Drastic Plastic Action which was also run by Nicola. This utilised free public workshops in the centre to facilitate the community build of 3 large hanging bird, fish and jellyfish sculptures which were hung from the roof of the Market Hall area in the Priory Centre in September last year.

This year, Nicola will be hosting 4 workshops in order to build a ‘tree of life’; members of the public can make bark ‘scales’ and decorations for the tree, which will be on display after completion. The workshop building and subsequent exhibition aims to highlight the plight of our natural world and raise awareness of the importance of sustainable behaviour in everyday life.

The first workshop will be on 18th July and is for Dartford Science and Technology College students to help begin building the ‘tree’ on their annual community day. We work with the college each year, making the most of their volunteering offer to help us get our projects off the ground.

The next 3 workshops will be open to the public and will take place in the Priory Market Hall area. Do come along on the following dates, where adults and children can join us in bringing our Tree to life!

FREE workshops, no artistic skill needed!

10am – 4pm on…

Saturday 27th July
Sunday 11th August
Saturday 17th August
Saturday 17th August

Join us at DAN for an exciting 2019!

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

    hello@dartfordartsnetwork

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

Drastic Plastic Action – Public Workshop #2

Last Saturday we held our second and final Drastic Plastic Action workshop in the Priory Centre, where lots of lovely kids and grown-ups joined us to help put the final decorative touches to our Big Fish sculpture.

The workshop tables were full, with imaginative little fingers busily creating colourful paper scales for the body of the fish, which they then applied with watered down PVA glue. The designs are beautiful, and all the participants were excited about coming along next week to spot their own handmade scales when the fish is up and hanging from the ceiling of the market hall.

Meanwhile, aside from this hive of activity, DAN artists and some brave members of the public applied wet, torn tissue to the body using a technique called Decoupage. The effect of this is striking, and the fish soon began to really come to life.

The final touches were added when the body was turned over and local discarded plastics collected by Dartford Litterpickers were threaded onto the underbelly of the fish and shown coming from its mouth. These will be visible from below when the fish is hung, and explicitly convey the message about the impact plastic waste has on our sea creatures – how it ends up being mistaken for food, or caught around their bodies, often killing or maiming them irreparably.

The sculptures are now ready to hang, and will be installed on Friday evening in the Priory Centre. There will be an official opening by the Mayor of Dartford on Sat 15th Sep at 2.30pm in the Market Hall. Do join us to see the realisation of a fun and rewarding project and of course a lot of hard work by DAN artists! Particular thanks to lead artist Nicola Claxton, for her innovative and stunning work on the fish and puffin sculptures and to Sue Holmes for her beautiful sewing techniques in creating the Giant Jellyfish.

Also thanks for the Priory Centre for the commission and to KCC Councillor Jan Ozog for his kind funding support.

First Drastic Plastic Action Workshop!

On Saturday 1st Sep we held the first of our two public workshops for the Drastic Plastic Action project in the Priory Centre. We had 4 tables of activity going on:

– Sewing the Giant Jellyfish, with Sue
– Creating the Puffin sculpture from wire & willow, with Nicola
– Making and decorating scales using printing, painting and drawing, across two tables with Kate & Kasia

Nicola’s beautiful cane and paper fish sculpture laid in the centre of the tables and provided a stunning, eye-catching centrepiece to the workshop, causing lots of people to stop and talk to us about what we were doing.

We had lots of fabulous kids and grown ups getting involved and making some beautiful scales, as well as helping out Sue with her sewing, and watching Nicola demonstrate the how to manipulate wire and willow into a puffin shape and making it look far easier than it is!

At the end of the day we had a whole bunch of beautiful scales ready to attach to our fish next weekend, and a brand new Puffin sculpture ready to fly from the ceiling of the market place.

Join us next weekend at the Priory Centre Market Hall 10am – 4pm, where we will be finalising the decoration of all three of the sculptures, adding the scales to our giant fish, and filling its belly with lots of collected plastics (thanks to Dartford Litterpickers) to highlight how our used plastics end up destroying wildlife.

Join us this Sat 1st Sep for our first Drastic Plastic Action FREE ART workshop!

This September, Dartford Arts Network is running an exciting new project at the Priory Centre in Dartford, which includes a series of public workshops and the construction/display of large hanging sculptures to highlight the damaging effect of plastics in our oceans.

Through our Plastic Fantastic project at the Centre back in 2016, we were able to discover what happens to our plastics when they end up in the sea. Tragically, they very often end up in the stomachs of marine life and birds, who mistake the plastics for small creatures. Our project aims to highlight this issue and convey an action through message – recycle, re-use and look after your environment locally and nationally!

Over the next few weeks, we aim to make 2-3 large-scale sculptures which will hang from the ceiling of the Priory Centre Market Hall and raise the issue of plastics in an explicit and bold way. The largest of these, the fish, is being designed and built by local commissioned artist Nicola Claxton and is part-way through construction and you can see some in–progress photos here. The fish will be decorated with fabric scales which members of the public will help us make at the weekend workshops and the cane skeleton will display a stomach filled with locally collected plastics.

We will be holding free art workshops across the first two weekends in September – on Sat 1st & Sat 8th / 10am-4pm in the central market hall area of the Priory Centre. These are open to all, no booking required, and there will something to do for all ages – from toddlers to great-grannies!

There will be opportunities for the public to contribute to the making of the sculptures, and to learn new and exciting art skills, such as building sculptures using willow and chicken wire, as well as traditional art forms which are perhaps often undervalued, such as sewing. There will of course be plenty of painting, drawing and block printing too, so do come along and join in on the day.

This project has been kindly supported by Kent County Council Councillor Jan Ozog.

Contact hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com or find us on social media for more information…
Facebook: @dartfordartsnetwork
Twitter: @DartfordArts

Land Art at the Bridge Community Day

Situated under the trees, amongst the natural materials of nature, we felt right at home at the Bridge Community Day as we welcomed local residents to the event and helped them to express themselves through some land art sculpting.

As we have found at all the land art events so far, people are initially a little reluctant to get involved, preferring to observe from afar and work out what we are offering. It doesn’t take long though, for the first inquisitive soul to step forward and have a go and before long the site is a frenzy of activity. Mandalas and rock piles begin to cover the floor, and people intuitively start working together to build a set of beautiful sculptures.

We had another great day running our pop-up stall and extend our thanks to the organisers for inviting us, as well as to Dave Butler from KCC for his kind support of the event.

Thank you to everyone who got involved, and please do come and join us for some more Land Art at…

Wilmington Fete on bank holiday Monday / 29th Aug / Wilmington Common

All photographs (c) Kate Withstandley Photography. Contact hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com for copies of images.

LAND ART @ STONE FETE

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 hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com for copies of images.

DAN’s Community Artwork @ Dartford’s Steam Fair

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.