Autumn Newsletter 2019

The clocks have gone back and there’s a new moon – time for an Autumn Newsletter.

The legacy advocacy document of the Art in the Park: Kearsney interpreted project, a ‘how-to’ pocket-sized booklet for artists working with local authorities & local authorities working with artists, is fresh off the press. Described as “a very useful, thoughtful and easy to absorb guide”, the booklet is a publication produced by Dover District Council (DDC) and Dover Arts Development (DAD). It has been beautifully designed by Edda Jones who has been responsible for all DAD’s branding right from the start. We are delighted by the immediate flurry of interest. Please click here to find out how to obtain a copy.

Also designed by Edda Jones is Clare Smith ‘s new book ‘Watercress & Daffodils’, published to accompany her film of the same name, and both part of her Art in the Park: Kearsney Interpreted commission.

DAD is increasingly seen as a resource for artists who have settled in Dover and also for those from across the water wanting to make work in this extraordinary small town: recent examples are jet wash and the straight line. For the whole of DAD’s existence Britain has been a member of  the EU, a supranational construction and model of regional integration, based on humanist and democratic values, allowing us to work easily with organisations in other Member States. Most of the artists we have worked with, including ourselves, have EU citizenship, which has meant free movement for artworks and artists within the EU. The majority of the artist’s expressions of interest for the public art commission at the West Wing Battery at Fort Burgoyne came from EU citizens based in the UK, or in other Member States.  During the  discussion hosted by The Margate School, ‘Art does not know Brexit‘, the point was made that the voices of artists, writers and intellectuals have been largely missing in the debates and that what is at risk goes beyond the immediate question of Brexit to the fundamental values and ethics of civilisation.

We are delighted to have kicked off a cultural programme of events at St Edmunds Chapel in Dover with a solo violin concert by Peter Sheppard Skaerved. Peter reminded us that both St Richard of Chichester and St Edmund of Abingdon had opposed Henry III’s attempts to undermine Magna Carta and that this brave resistance is reflected in this wonderful building that has survived the dissolution of the monasteries, 400 years of secular use, 2 world wars and a plan to demolish it to widen the road.

The tiny church of St Edmunds was originally the Chapel of the Cemetery of the Poor, attached to the Maison Dieu and used as a pilgrims’ chapel. Seven members of the Green Pilgrimage group, who are particularly interested in how the arts can enhance their pilgrims’ trails, visited DAD in June. Ancient pilgrim routes, such as The Way of St James to Santiago de Compostela, Spain, report an annual 10% increase in numbers, particularly among the non-religious. The group were particularly interested in our 21st century art and architecture trail CHALKUP21 that uses ancient trails.

Continuing the theme of resistance, DAD and Anne Edwards, the museums support officer of the Dover Museums and Arts Group (DMAG), were invited to present the WW1 Joined Up project in Cardiff at the National Legacies of WW1 Festival. There is awareness that many of the 1914-18 projects created valuable research material that is in danger, if, for instance, long-term hosting solutions are not found  for digital websites such as Artistsww1.uk, the joined up legacy website that brings together the work of the 10 artists and the museums and heritage sites that they were working with across Dover District.

Resistance takes many forms and we are really delighted that Christian Venkatasamy chose to use his Art31 Kent award to make a film, Pysren and the Vampire, with Chevonne Lane. Recently chosen for the 51Zero international film festival, the film is set in Clarendon Road, often quoted as being in one of the most deprived areas in Dover. This brilliant film is not a view from outside, but a loving and often funny film that could only be made by two people for whom this road is home.

Dover is home to artist Louisa Love. Although she is at present working in Edinburgh, she is helping to profile DAD artist contributors through DAD’s social media channels – most recently the seven Dover-based artists and musicians who were on hand to inspire and help with the intergenerational Big Draw Doodle Jam. Louisa is also drawing attention to upcoming exhibitions and activities of artists that are DAD contributors.

It seems more important than ever for artists, musicians, writers and creative practitioners and organisations to co-operate with each other to influence decisions and address the challenges that surround the plight of our planet and our humanity.