Tag Archives: workshop

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

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

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 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.

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.

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

Yoghurt-pot octopuses, a plastic-packed tree and a world map to make you rethink your recycling

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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 hello@dartfordartsnetwork.com, message us on Facebook, or tweet us @dartfordarts