Autumn Newsletter 2020

“We are committed to producing contemporary art of excellence, supporting artists’ practice, initiating cultural activity and feeding into Dover’s economy. We aim, with values of inclusiveness, thoughtful partnership and emotional responsibility, to strengthen communities and widen perspectives through creative thinking and actions.”

For many of us our sense of time seems to have organised itself around the status of the pandemic and its restrictions; however this autumn has announced itself in a recognisable way with changes in temperature, leaves everywhere and that beautiful late summer/early autumn sun.

During the last six months, thanks to Arts Council England’s Covid-19 Emergency funding, we have been able with our WHAT NEXT? project to explore ways of guiding Dover Arts Development into its future and to think about how those steps might be implemented.

At the end of August Clare Smith announced that she would be stepping back and in early September we appointed artist Louisa Love as a new director of DAD. There is much to organise, decisions to be made and exciting new partnership projects in the air. DAD now has three directors, with Clare there to help at this stage of our transition process. Louisa and Joanna are doing their best to get their heads around all the things that Clare has taken care of over the last 12 years in her brilliantly intelligent, business-like, creative and pragmatic way.

With Louisa’s appointment we are ensuring that DAD remains artist-led. We are also ensuring that we have a new director who understands lateral collaboration as a synergic system for moving individual practices forward at the same time as a system for artists to support other artists. This is exemplified in the way Louisa has been curating the DAD Artists at Home project, with exceptional care, delicacy, thoughtfulness and emotional responsibility regarding each individual artist’s contribution within the larger project. The DAD Artists at Home project has provided a space to highlight not only the work of DAD’s contributors during the challenges of lockdown, but also the multivoiced structure that has come to define DAD.

We have known Louisa for many years; first bringing her into the Nautical Threads project in 2013 to take photographs and lead a lantern-making workshop. She was born and raised in Dover and when accepting the artist commission for the Aylesham Heritage Centre in our WW1 Joined up project, she brought the personal narrative of her grandfather who joined the Kent Miners from South Wales into her project engaging with the history of the East Kent Coalfield. Louisa has also been involved in our pilot CHALKUP cultural tourism project and later CHALKUP21 project, with walking and the environment evolving as an important part of her own arts practice.

More than ever in these difficult times for artists, DAD’s commitment to producing contemporary art of excellence, supporting artists practice and initiating cultural activity remain key to sustaining resilience in the Arts. In line with this commitment we asked three Dover-based artists to curate an online exhibition for the DAD website.

Lonely Dover by artist Simon Bill, who moved to Dover two years ago, shows us his ‘Dover’ explored and discovered on foot. Dover born artist Joseph Black ,who has recently returned to Dover, chose to curate his  Dover Art Network providing artists with an opportunity to explore and develop ideas for sculpture beyond physical limits and to think about contextualising art in the public space. September is an exhibition curated by Nicolas Deshayes, who also moved to Dover a couple of years ago. He invited fellow artist Sophie von Hellermann to Dover and accompanied her to explore the town. The result is 20 watercolours that Nic would like to show physically in Dover once the Covid-19 restrictions have been eased.

The series of conversations that were had with the salon guests who participated in the WHAT NEXT Zoom Salons have been invaluable in informing our thinking about the future of DAD and widening perspectives through creative thinking and actions.

 salon is a gathering of individuals connected to arts and culture, brought together by an inspiring host. In a less formal atmosphere than most meetings, the gathering exchange ideas and increase their knowledge through conversation.

Our inspiring Salon co-hosts were Philip Hutton, Louise Webb, Charles Holland and Louisa Love. Alice Bryant who previously worked on the marketing of CHALKUP21 came back for the WHAT NEXT? project to act as scribe for all the salons and to rekindle interest in CHALKUP21 on social media during lockdown #chalkup21 @dover_arts @chalkup21. Alice has put together a summary from across all four salons drawing out recurring themes and the essence of what people said.

One of DAD’s many strands is the annual intergenerational family friendly drawing event to coincide with the Big Draw. This year’s theme ‘A climate of change’, is supported by ACE and the Dover Big Local and is an example of inclusiveness that strengthens communities. It will be an online Instagram event in the schools’ half term on Monday October 26th led by Petra Matthews Crow, Steph Wallace and Freyja Matthews Crow. Petra has been leading the Big Draw with Clare each year since 2014. Participants are invited to respond to the Climate of Change theme and to upload their drawings to Instagram using the #DoverBig Draw hashtag and tagging @dover_arts and @dover.big.local

Staying with drawing and extending it to print via the ONLINE DOVER PRINTFEST #DoverPrintFest on Instagram was a successful example of thoughtful partnership with Future Foundry & the Dover Studio Collective. Two artist-led Zoom workshops – one on printing led by Marcia Teusink and the other on frottage led by Amanda Thesiger – were fully booked and a good example of the hyperlocal linking with the global which Zoom has enabled in this pandemic, with participants from Dover and as far afield as Cyprus, Holland and Germany taking part.

We are delighted that there is appetite from Dover District Council to take the original Dover Cultural Survey and Framework, for which Muf Art & Architecture were the consultants, into this decade with a new 10-year plan. This will ensure that arts and culture are built in from the beginning of all future major projects in the district and that the three guiding principles of promoting existing assets and enriching them in a purposeful and playful way will continue. It will also ensure that the strategic role for the arts in placemaking is maintained and that continued cultural activity feeds into Dover’s economy.

We thank our funders, friends and supporters for your continued interest and support

And leave you with the DAD jingle, a gift from Gabor Stark

DAD jingle - score.jpg

In good old musical cryptogrammic tradition it starts: D1 > A1 > D

And finishes ‘tutti‘: & ‘sostenuto’: D1A1D2


Clare, Joanna and Louisa