The Table

The Table is a symbol of peace and is inspired by Brancusi’s Table of Silence, part of a sculptural ensemble built as a war memorial to peace at Turgu jui Romania in 1937. The Table is constructed from timber reclaimed from iconic buildings in Dover which have recently been demolished, namely the Britannia pub and Buckland paper mill. The people involved in the making include artists Anthony Heywood, Head of Sculpture at UCA, and Uwe Derksen, Assistant director of Research and Enterprise at UCA; LSBC CEO Peter Green, as well as fine arts students and graduates from UCA (Canterbury), young people and long-term unemployed in Dover. According to Peter Green, CEO of LSBC cic, the project “has 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.”  The long-term legacy will be to embed cultural and artistic activity as part of, not separate from everyday life, and the sustainable upcycling of materials from the past. The project explores ideas of the journey – real geographical journeys as well as affective, life journeys.

The Table was built in 2011 at the Old Sorting Office at Charlton Green.

The Table is classical in form and made from reclaimed and discarded timber. It retains its cultural and social value as a table, but also functions as a sculpture intended to represent a conscious and sustained effort to operate outside the rarefied and the self-referential.

There is a long history of the role of the table in different cultures and societies. Tables are used for dining, meetings, putting things on, playing games on and versions of games such as table tennis. It is a symbol for hospitality and friendship, a place where communities meet to eat and talk. A table is a place to share and create relationships. Tables are protective – one need only think of recent news images of earthquakes in various parts of the world – and the space under the table is also a favourite with children, a space of the imagination and play. – The term ‘table’ is used in idioms in many languages and English idioms include phrases such as ‘lay one’s cards on the table’, ‘get someone around the table’, ‘turn the tables’, ‘drink someone under the table’ ”bring someone or something to the table”.

The partnership between UCA and DAD has its beginnings in a meal hosted by DAD in 2007, to which Uwe Derksen was invited. Afterwards he wrote “DAD has revitalized the ancient tradition of bringing together like-minded and different-minded people by joining them for supper. The official raison d’être: Meet the visiting artist. The result: Celebration of art, reenergizing community spirit, critical debate. All are important ingredients in our much talked about knowledge society characterized by a drive for innovation and creativity, operating in networks and exchange of knowledge (explicit and tacit). The meal (the ‘communion’ in symbolic terms) of course is the fabric of community development providing cohesion and meaning. The ‘act’ results in effervescence (Durkheim) and helps to counter-act, though will not necessarily resolve, the often alienating, disappointing (devaluing) and disenfranchising features in our society that many people, in particular artists, experience. I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate creativity than through DAD dinners”.

Bringing people to a table has continued as an integral part of how DAD develops the arts through its practice. Once built, The Table was used for a celebratory meal, to which we invited those who made The Table and supported the project: this included Heritage Transport and one of their Romanian drivers. The lorries and drivers who pass through Dover every day are often a target of antipathy despite their presence being vital to the town’s economy. We reflected their contribution and Brancusi  in the choice of dishes we served. These dishes were taught to the trainee New Horizon’s caterers by eastern European residents of Dover enabling the trainees to develop their culinary skills and learn about different food customs.

Unlike Brancusi’s table, The Dover Table will move, drawing people together in a spirit of peace for discussion and debate at key significant places. The first stop on the Table’s journey was connected to the London 2012 Olympic open weekend taking place in the Market Square in Dover in July 2011.

After 6 years the Table returned to Charlton Green on January 4th 2017, by invitation of the Dover Town Council, where in was installed by Uwe Derksen and Anthony Heywood, with help from Andrew Hewitt and Andrew Fagg of Artful Logistics Ltd and Daryl Kirk and Shaun Dennis of Jones Construction.

The Structure was deemed dangerous and rotted by the Dover Town Council in September 2019 and demolished.

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‘The Table’ is back at Charlton Green thanks to Dover Town Council who have found a home for this sculptural work that they initially helped fund in 2011. In a delicate operation on January [...]