Autumn Newsletter 2017

This newsletter centres on the resilience of artists’ practice and Dover’s developing artists’ networks which underpin that resilience locally.

Mark Robinson defines Adaptive resilience as the capacity to remain productive and true to core purpose and identity whilst absorbing disturbance and adapting with integrity in response to changing circumstances. (Mark Robinson 2010 Making Adaptive Resilience Real )

In May this year, Dover received a gift in the form of a 12-meter high wall painting from Banksy.

Will it be defaced? Will it remain? 2 of the first questions.

6 months later it is still here with no defacement apart from someone writing ‘Clash’ and a few mementos chiseled away from the very bottom and most people we have talked to are passionate that it should stay.

Building resilience also implies strengthening the resilience of our young creative practitioners and future practitioners still at school. Resilience, according to the definition used by Boingboing is “the ability to do well despite stressful life challenges, and to achieve good outcomes against the odds.” 

The young people of the FRESHART project used the 40 hours of workshop time during the summer to make work for an exhibition that opened in October in the ART31 Gallery in the Dover Big Local Hub. The exhibition featured work by Beth Garner, Chevonne Lane, Christian Venkatasamy, Freddy Woodward, Harry Arnold-Baldwin, Marlon Pendlebury, Nicola Dunsbee, Ruchia Bundy, and Ellie Holliday. The 4-meter long collaborative work on brown paper is a fascinating, refreshing piece of work, a testament to what can happen without a brief, when young people are given a safe space and time to connect with themselves and their own creative voice. Also wonderfully refreshing, in their honesty, are the poems by Nicola Dunsbee and Chevonne Lane. Nicola produced an exhibition zine with a text on the power of the Collective, where she states people collected together, with the ideas in their mind collected into collective works, collecting with each other to collect with the world around them.”

STEAM UNIVERSE gave DAD the chance to invite artists Greg Stobbs, Helen Lindon, Chloe Mead, Cherry Truluck and Ben Hunt to participate in an exciting schools project aimed at building a local STEAM network that embeds the Arts within the STEM curriculum. The artists have each created a STEAM zine, which will form a downloadable inspirational resource for teachers.

Dover’s cultural ecology is growing, with artists returning or arriving to live in in the town. Ben Hunt, who is involved with the Pebbles project, has recently moved to Dover, while Dover’s contribution to the 2017 big draw festival, living lines making drawings move, provided an opportunity for Drew Burrett, who has recently returned to the town, and Phil Saunders who lives in Dover and is a 3rd-year student at UCA Canterbury, to produce an animated film A Kearsney Discovery  The film made for the Big Draw 2017 uses drawings and collected material from more than 30 participants and illustrates a mysterious story, inspired by a newspaper clip from 1841 set in Kearsney Abbey, written by Barry O’Brien of Dover Tales.

Dover Tales is part of an expanding performance and drama network in Dover of which the Marlowe in Canterbury is another. DAD is working with the Marlowe on their WW1 participatory performance project ‘Return of the Unknown’ which explores how World War One is commemorated across five towns in Kent. Phase 1 completed at Dover Castle on November 4th  with a firing of the WW1 gun, followed by a performance  of Flagpole by Michele Sheldon directed by Sarah Davies. The play reflected on war and rememberance and the relationship we have with others who share our planet. Among the cast were Graham Hutchinson, Chris Burke and Anthony White. The project has 3 phases with the chance for more people to become involved in Phases 2 and 3, and culminating in performances in November 2018 in the atmospheric halls of the Port of Dover Maritime Railway Terminus, the site of the repatriation of the unknown warrior.

Attracting visitors to a place is one way in which artists’ activities can boost the local economy and encouraging artists’ projects in a town can help raise a town’s profile and increase its attractiveness as a place to work. Over the years we have been supporting artists’ practice by linking those wishing to work in Dover with people we think might be helpful to them. This has been an important part of our mission to develop the arts in Dover. Through our various projects and as Dover residents we have met a lot of people and linked a lot of artists with organisations that have helped them realise their ideas in Dover. Most recently the Ragroof players performed Bridges and Puentes in the Charlton Centre car park and Richard Bundy produced his first film a Town on the Edge, which premiered at the 2017 Dover Film Festival.

CHALKUP 21, our cultural tourism project, launched with the unveiling of Elaine Tribley’s Dover Totems at the end of Athol terrace marking the path up to the white cliffs and a beautifully written full page article by Joanne O’Connor in the Guardian. Architect Charles Holland has been working on the design of the CHALKUP21 trail markers that will be installed at each of the nine 21st-century trail attractions in the first part of 2018. Architecture photographer Nigel Green has completed his photographs of the individual buildings for the CHALKUP21 website due to be launched in January 2018. There have been 2 artists leading walks Louisa Love led 2 trail walks which she has written up here: walk1 walk2  and Jamie Jenkinson walked the trail from Deal to Dover with his Royal College of Art visual communication students who documented their walk here.  Marcia Teusink has just led her first drawing workshop at the Wing at Capel-le-Ferne, with further drawing workshops at the remaining eight CHALKUP21 Trail venues planned in 2018. Anyone attending all of the workshops will have the equivalent of a semester of teaching in drawing as Marcia will introduce different drawing techniques at each workshop.

Artists’ practices are nourished by connections within their communities and beyond. Both DAD directors took their own work out of Dover this summer with Clare’s residency culminating in the showing of drawings, prints and a moving image piece at the Wealden Literary Festival and Joanna’s solo painting shows in Germany: The TAC exhibition ‘Body of Colour’ in the Stadtsgalerie of Bad Soden and ‘Change’ at Galerie Gilla Loecher in Berlin. Back home, DAD took part in Rob McDonald‘s All inked up project in the Herbert Read Gallery at UCA and at the Brewery Tap in Folkestone with a stand of books and prints from artists who have worked with DAD. If you missed it, we will have a range of books and prints available at future DAD events.

The number of artists getting in touch with us, coming to live in Dover, looking for a studio, starting activities that are making a contribution to the cultural life of the town is increasing. Artists are getting involved in each other’s initiatives and there is a real feeling of things happening.

We are delighted that a new leader for Dover District Council has been elected who understands the importance of a healthy cultural life for a healthy community and look forward to more artists taking an active role in the cultural development of the town.

All of you –  our funders, business supporters, readers, friends and fellow artists feature in this story of resilience.