DAD Overview Autumn 2013

We launched a shop! With an eye on our sustainability and after our exposure at the London Art fair, we have an online shop with prints by the photographers DAD has commissioned over the years and a limited edition of upcycled Dover souvenirs.

It happened! We brought The Ha!Man Francois Le Roux from South Africa together with The Zen Collective for a workshop in Dover. The artists’ respective experiences open improvisation facilitated a collective process, a communicative experience that wove all the levels of skill and particular gifts of the participants into a body of music and performance. The participants’ feedback says it all.

One thing leads to another and when artist Korinna McRobert returned to Dover to present her new work Asha, at the Louis Armstrong Pub, she teamed up with flautist Paul Cheneour who plays regularly every first Monday of the month with The Zen Bicycle Band at the venue. The “Louis” remains one of our favourite performance venues and is right in the middle of the Dover Big Local area. Clare led on a mapping project for the Dover Big Local Conversation Event in the town hall, with help from artists Charley Vines and Jack Coulson. Residents of all ages were invited to share their dreams for Dover and asked to Map the possible. Map the impossible. DAD invited Dover based photographers Chris Burke and Martin Bradley to join in the mapping of the Dover Big Local Area, using photographs they had taken of the Area as a way of stimulating conversation. On the strength of this, DAD was invited by Rural Kent to run a mapping workshop for local councillors attending the Kent Association of Local Councils AGM in July. The KALC represents 300 Parish and Town Councils in Kent!

We continue to be invited to talk about DAD. In July Joanna was one of the speakers at the Christchurch University COaST symposium: On the Threshold: Culture and Change in Towns by the Sea. Next spring we have been invited to talk at the Tage der Utopie event in Breklum, Germany.

Also in July, Matthias Koch presented his commissioned photographs of Dover to a spellbound audience of 50 people in the cafe area of Dover Discovery Centre, at a special preview for those with an interest in photography. This also gave us an opportunity to actively engage local photographers and camera clubs.

On 14 September we went over to Dunkerque to see the Compagnie Par le mot ! performance, Entre Phare et Shaft/Between Beacon and Shaft, in the lighthouse there. 2 weeks later, Nicolette Picheral was on the Western Heights guiding visitors through Dover’s Drop Redoubt Fort and Grand Shaft, originally built to keep the French out, as she narrated her fable about maritime borders, particularly the Straits of Dover. Her narrative was a weaving together of quotes from historical archives and a fictional mysterious beacon accompanied by Dover-based electric guitarist Colin Hinds, under the direction of Stéphane Vérité. We had become increasingly involved with the Dover part of this project through an introduction from Bruno Cooren from the City of Dunkerque and we fruitfully connected Nicolette with Colin Hinds. To coincide with the production in Dover we hosted a conversation exploring the theme Beacons and Borders – The Sources and Resources of Exchange with an invited group of key cultural actors from both sides of the Channel at the National Trust Visitors’ Centre directly overlooking the Dover Straits. The conversation was introduced by artist Nanne Meyer. “to draw a line is to separate, to create a distinction, to delimit. Boundaries, borders, lines of separation are necessary – through them we can get to know the other and thereby the self. What would happen if the self were to dissolve in the other?” Thoughts on The Indispensable Strait continued in anthropologist and architect Piero Zanini’s talk in October in Dunkerque. Ideas for a new project around the Straits of Dover are arising out of these stimulating conversations. According to Bruno “All this happened because DAD took a risk.” This is the way we work and the possibilities that this step into the unknown has opened up are very exciting.

You can’t separate Dover from the sea although it does seem sometimes that Townwall Street has done its best to do so! Nautical Threads is a year-long project involving 14 schools across Dover District, in partnership with Astor College for the Arts, which builds on our earlier work with schools registering for Artsmark. Through the project, the cultural strand of the Kent Schools’ Education Olympic Legacy Programme, ‘INSPIRE’, young people are exploring Dover’s long nautical history through a range of cross-curricular workshops led by inspirational artists. As well as bringing in artists to lead the workshops, we are able to open up an opportunity for emerging artists to creatively document and observe the sessions.

An important strand of this project has been creative training sessions for teachers. Artists Cas Holmes and Tania McCormack led two workshops for teachers and Arts Award candidates who will now be working with their schools to create part of a collective textile piece on the nautical theme. The project has prompted us to become an Arts Award Supporter. Workshops in drawing and concrete poetry to generate content for the textile piece are being run by poet Dan Simpson and Tania McCormack. The feedback from the pupils has been really heartening and could not be a better argument for the value of the arts in education and how a creative approach to learning can support and enthuse young people. Balancing the increasingly stringent demands of the curriculum with the freedom afforded by creativity is a delicate one and requires an understanding that these workshops are not just a different lesson format.

Transit – Pulp & Rags: the Grand Finale concert, marking the end of our War & Peace programme, was performed in Dover Town Hall on 11 October 2013 to great applause. The concert presented world premieres of 3 specially commissioned new works by Composer Nigel Clarke, Writer Malene Sheppard Skaerved and Painter Joanna Jones, within a programme devised by Violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved who also directed the Longbow musicians: Transit Pulp & Rags collaboration – an overview.

Miles Umney’s film clip.

Picking up on our previous success of involving a specific interest group to an event, we took the opportunity to invite primarily musicians to a pre-concert Salon, once again using the wonderful White Cliffs Visitors’ Centre, thanks to the National Trust. It was an opportunity for Peter, Nigel, Joanna, Malene and Mihailo to share works not being performed the following evening and talk about their process of research and collaboration.

Our 18-month War & Peace programme involved 20 artists, of which 7 were commissioned to create new work including ourselves. Clare realised her Voyagers project in September 2012 and Joanna’s Re-Veil-Le was screened together with Mihailo Trandfilovski’s wonderful Diptych for Strings at the Transit Pulp & Rags concert. We are delighted by the breadth of the content that we have managed to include within the War & Peace project and the people and organisations it has given us an opportunity to work with, as well as the diversity of participants we have been able to reach. We are also delighted by the legacy of new works that have been produced: Matthias Koch’s wonderful photographs of Dover, holding a moment of time and at the same time referring to Dover’s multi-layered history, and the glorious new composition by Nigel Clarke: Dogger Fisher German Bight Humber Thames Dover Wight and accompanying poem of the same name by Malene Shepard Skaerved. We still have filmmaker Dominic de Vere’s film work of the whole War & Peace project to look forward to in December. We will definitely let you know where and how you will be able to view it. Here is a taster of what’s to come.

We would like to thank all our funders, supporters and local sponsors for all their help.

Photos by Kate Beaugie, Matthias Koch, Louisa Love, Clare Smith and Miles Umney.