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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
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
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.
You may have noticed that the artworks in Lowfield Street have been taken down, because new hoardings are going up and other work commencing. Some of the work is going back to its creators, but others may be found new homes or even put into a charity auction.
But to make that happen we will need to store up to 15 artworks, each 1.2m square, for just a few weeks – in a secure, dry place.
If you are a local business or organisation with storage facilities (or just a local resident with a big shed!) we would love to hear from you. We just need the facilities, and will arrange any transport etc.
Please share this message with anyone you think might be able to help.
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.
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.