As part of the Healthy New Town programme, from September 2018 to March 2019 EDCcommissioned three community art projectsto explore, health, wellbeing, food, belonging and identity through creativity. Our first Gathering event was so successful that we ran another one in 2020.
Winter Gathering 2020
The Winter Gathering took place at Castle Hill Community Centre on 7th February 2020. The city-wide event attracted between around 500 local residentsfrom the Garden City andneighbouring communities.
The event was produced and co-curated by local arts organisation LV21 in collaboration withlocal schools and community groups. The event combinedthe Enchanted Illuminated Garden with costumed moth performers by Emergency Exit Arts; Magic Lantern Show based on Rosherville Gardens by Nicole Mollett and Frog Morris; Tightwire and “glow in the dark” juggling workshop with Dizzy O’Dare; 4 x 4 Dhol Drummers and Fleet Gymnastics; artinstallations, ‘have a go’ creative activities across artforms and performances with and by local artists and community groups, plus a tasty warmingfood and drink offer.
To support the community participation element in the run up to the main event, people from different groups were encouraged to record Vox popsoundbites answering the question ‘what’s great about my community?’to create this soundscape which was played in-betweenperformances in the enchanted garden. Listen here
For privacy reasons YouTube needs your permission to be loaded.
was the culmination of The Healthy New Town Programme, bringing together artists and local communities for a celebration of arts, creativity, food, and wellbeing. The event took place at Manor Community Primary School in Swanscombe on March 23rd, 2019.
Three community art projects were showcased at the event and local people were invited to have a go at drawing, sculpture, printing, dhol drumming, bhangra dancing and aerial acrobatics.Locally produced foodlinked to the projects was served including watercress soup and samosas. Participants gave an overwhelmingly positive response to the event:
“Absolutely fantastic! What a wonderful way of bringing a community together!! ”
“What a perfect afternoon! I feel uplifted by the experience”
“Great local inclusion!”
Tales and Tastings
was a community art project led by Nicole Mollett which collected recipes and food stories from Swanscombe, Northfleet and Ebbsfleet.
Nicole led drawing workshops at Ebbsfleet Academy and The Craylands School. Shecollected personal food stories fromlocal community groups, senior lunch clubs, and individual residents. Everyone was invited to contribute a tale via special post boxes in local libraries.
The final collection of drawings, recipes and texts was presented in a beautiful book. The Gathering event included an exhibition of 50 original drawings by Nicole and the students, and some prototype ceramic cups and bowls inspired by local grotesque church architecture. Visitors could taste locally produced ‘Pickle Me Up Frank’ chili jam which featured as one of the stories in the book.
During the event, a group of 30 participants were led by local historian Christoph Bull on an alternative tasting tour of Swanscombe. Nicole provided food tastings for each storyincluding shrimps, watercress, cured meat, jam sandwiches, ice cream, and Kentish ginger beer.Click below to download the booklet
Chalk and Cheese
was a project led by artist and cheese mongerEsther Collins. Esther met with people in Castle Hill, Northfleet and Greenhithe using cheese tasting as a starting point for conversations about skills and interests in arts, crafts, and food. This led to connections between existing and new residents.
Esther invited artists Lydia Brockless and Charlene Sandy to devise making workshops using food and plants in the process. Activities included casting vegetables in concrete; making natural dyes from plants and using Japanese Shibori techniques to dye napkins;creating clay slab-cups decorated with drawings of food andcreating a new ‘Veggie-type’ font with graphic designers Work-Form.
As a way of bringing members of different groups together the project also involved a trip to Blackwoods Cheese Company to see the dairy, the cows and learn how cheese is made.
All activities were designed to work together to create a feast-like table display for The Gatheringevent andconnect everyone who had taken part. Visitors were invited to use food containers and flowers to cast table decorations to display, and to take home.
Area Art Archive
was a project led by multi-media artist Siobhan Schwartzberg that focused on how our everyday lives shape our local history and how we can use that knowledge of our everyday lives to create art works that reflect us.
History is not something that happens to us but is something we shape. Art is not simply something we view but also something we influence.
Siobhan worked with local history and church groups on oral history, research, and guided walks. She also ran chalk drawing workshops at Knockhall Primary School and song writing with young people from Northfleet in partnership with The Grand Healthy Living Centre.
A portrait image of Reverend Mark Hurley from St Peter’s & St Paul’s Church Swanscombe taken by Chi Poon was one of the winners of the Portrait of Britain Prize. On 2 September 2019, 100 winning images were displayed for a month across the UK on JCDecaux’s digital screens. The 200 shortlisted images are featured in the Portrait of Britain Book Vol.2.
Whitstable Biennale 2018
EDC co-funded 2 satellite performance art commissions for the 2018 Whitstable Biennale.
Webb-Ellis A dotted line across the map
Artist duo Webb-Ellis invited participants to join them on a thoughtful performative stroll through Ebbsfleet Garden City, a march through its history, and a reckless leap into imagined futures of this new development at the ‘edge’ of England. Dressed as Pierrot, mutable madcap master of chaos, the artists led a sonic exploration of freedom in its many ambiguities.
Individually outfitted with wireless speakers, tuning in and out of voices and music carried on the local airwaves, the walk explored ancient and contemporary ideas of home, community, fear and belonging, in the shadow of Brexit.
Stories of Neanderthals crossing the channel on foot, the hard-fought right to roam, and the new international rail connection, interweaved a simple celebration of moving through a landscape on foot. A disorderly ramble through orderly streets and disappearing wasteland in an age of individualism and digital alienation.
James M’Kay Sally O’Reilly I Hear Horses
I Hear Horses was a surprising, hilarious, and sometimes shocking performance walk with artist Sally O’Reilly and James M’Kay. Described by the festival organisers as part safari, part myth, part speculation, part picaresque romp through ideas, things, entities, events. Using such technologies as walking, pointing, remembering, and speaking, O’Reilly and M’Kay scoured the Swanscombepeninsular for signs of animals wild, thoroughbred, symbolic, and extinct. They hauled up pasts and planted a future theme park in a landscape where estate agent meets literary agency, where tyrannosaurus rex crosses paths with the editor of Birth Control News.
Think-Up!A creative foundation programme for schools in North Kent
In Autumn 2019, EDC partnered with local cultural organisation LV21 and Royal Opera House Bridgetodevised and secure funding for a research & development programme for arts and cultural engagement through local schools. The aim of the programme was to connect children and young people, schools and communities with excellent art and cultural opportunities and experiences in response to their needs, and with focus on reaching pupils from less advantaged backgrounds. A number of schools would become Artsmark schools and help children achieve Arts Awards, whilst offering CPD for staff. Part of the process was to evaluate the possibilities for an ongoing cultural education partnership to strengthen the cultural education infrastructure across Gravesham and Dartford.
Since the start of the initial research and development phase of the, LV21 have worked with nearly 20 schools and 600 children and young people across Gravesham, Northfleet, Ebbsfleet and Swanscombe.
Unfortunately, the outbreak of COVID-19 meant that all face-to-faceworkshops and activity had to be cancelled. LV21 and partners re-organised the programme and teamed up with local artists to offercreative packs and demonstration videos online. 600 packs were put together and distributed to local families through school and community groups to allow young people to be creative at home. The videos and Arts Award Discover at Home intro packs are still available online here: https://lv21.co.uk/education/think-up/