DAD Overview Autumn 2011

Now that autumn has arrived, we would like to update you on DAD’s activities over the last 6 months.

The Pavillion built as part of a Design and Build workshop led by Rhea Shepherd and Lawrence Sherwood, students at the Canterbury School of Architecture (CSA), in April, has been used in multiple ways and has become a permanant feature of the DAD studio premises in the LSBC centre in the Old Sorting Office (OSO) at Charlton Green In Dover. Our partnership with the CSA continued in May with This is England, a presentation in the studio of students’ design propositions exploring the cultural, historic and urban contexts of the port of Dover.

This was followed by the Urban Voids debate and exhibition led by João Gameiro Neves, also a postgraduate CSA student. The discussion covered the problem of balancing comprehensive plans for an area with temporary or short-term usage (notion of meanwhile spaces) and the way in which imaginative short-term projects can change how a space is perceived. The contributions of Christina Monteiro from muf art/architecture Levent Kerimol from LDA (design for London) and Dave Robinson from Dover District Council helped contextualise Dover’s dilemmas and the debate provided a forum for an exciting exchange of ideas with a wide cross section of the community within the DAD studio environment.

Although the studio is not primarily an exhibition space, it lends itself well to short experimental shows. Embedding an arts studio within a business environment and alongside a personal development programme for the long-term unemployed has allowed for fertile crossovers. DAD was able to provide or arrange a variety of flexible work placements for the beneficiaries of the now completed New Horizons programme run by LSBC cic; e.g. Chris Walker helped Stour Valley Arts, with the opening of their new gallery space in Ashford. Emma Stone joined the para-phase, dance workshop and both had placements with artist Lucy Steggals’ Dovertime project.

Also in the OSO space fourteen New Horizons beneficiaries were involved in The Table project either with collecting timber, helping with the making or the cooking for the first celebratory meal around the completed Table where the trainee cooks were taught an East European dish by Alina Darozhka. The Table, inspired by Brancusi’s Table of Silence in Romania, is round: four meters in diameter and four tons in weight, built from timber reclaimed from recently demolished iconic buildings in Dover. It is at once metaphor and object, retaining its cultural and social value as a table, but also functioning as a sculptural monument. The project was led by Anthony Heywood, Head of Sculpture at UCA and Uwe Derksen, Assistant director of Research and Enterprise at UCA. For LSBC cic the project “helped equip all of those people with whom we engaged, with the necessary skills, attitude and confidence to play a socially responsible role in its development.”

DAD is very keen to support creative talent in the town and with the help of DDC has enabled Aaron Conolly and Lloyd Glyzer of South East Murals to show what they can do on the hoardings around the Britannia Pub site.

The Table’s first journey was to Dover’s market square for Open Weekend 2011. The Table was used for Dysarticulate 2, an initiative of Jon Adams, artist in residence at The University of Portsmouth, led by artist Carole Day during her work placement with DAD. This project was a further collaboration between DAD and Dover LibraryBunting Forever was also launched at the table. Julie Bishop is leading DAD’s Bunting Forever project with the aim to create a mile of woolly bunting to welcome the Olympic Torch to Dover on 18 July 2012. The project has really caught on with knitters from across the district and beyond taking part. The flags can also be made of wool felt, which suits some of the younger participants. One participant said it was a great project as “it gives people who would not normally be involved a chance to be involved in the Olympics.”

The DAD Feature Documentary production, Watermark, was previewed at UCA Maidstone on 10th May for the crew and at KETV studios for the cast on 19 May. The first public preview will be on 6 March at at Maison Dieu, Dover as part of the 2012 Dover Film Festival. We are currently finalising the design of the booklet and wallet for the DVD which will include an additional DVD on the project with an interview with DAD and additional footage not included in the film, created by Dominic de Vere, co-editor with director Marianne Kapfer of Watermark.

In September, Clare Smith completed her MA in Fine Art at Central St Martins while Joanna Jones’s painting show, a matter of touch, was exhibited at the Space Gallery in Folkestone. Earlier in the summer, Joanna together with the Zen Bicycle Band presented an evening of painting and music at the Pines Calyx entitled hearing the colour seeing the sound.

In our role as custodians of the Dover Cultural Framework, DAD organised a day’s event, Dover Here & Now, on 13 October. The aim of the event was to draw out the key principles of Doverʼs Cultural Framework and make them tangible by showing how they are already or could be applied to cultural and economic activity in the town. The speakers were Sarah Lang former programme officer of Dover Pride, Dave Robinson from DDC Sarah Wren KCC Arts and Regeneration Officer for East Kent and Gabor Stark Senior Lecturer at the Canterbury School of Architecture.

I found the theme of the morning’s presentations both enjoyable and inspiring and the broad definition of culture alongside a message of openness and possibility was so much more invigorating than the dry bullet points which Strategy presentations can so often be.  And it was an astute piece of programming to end with Gabor Stark’s invitation to view the city and in particular its empty spaces – or urban voids – as areas of possibility for all kinds of engagement. Some excellent examples of people involving themselves in their city and its spaces in order to improve their lives and the lives of those around them in whatever way works for them. (Arts Council England South East)

Lunch was provided by Il Rustico the latest restaurant run by the Pasquino family, who also own La Scala, one of Dovers most loved and successful restaurants.

In the afternoon we screened Watermark, after which DAD, Marianne Kapfer and Dominic de Vere presented a hard disc of the complete Watermark story shop interviews to Jon Iveson, curator of Dover Museum and Tim Strangleman for the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. Jon Iveson expressed his pleasure in seeing so much of the museum’s photographic and film material included in the film, while for Tim Strangleman:

Watermark is a filmic paean to work and working class culture. Richly evocative, thought provoking and profoundly moving this wonderful collaborative project should be watched by anyone who cares about work, community and place.”