DAD Overview Autumn 2012

Since our last newsletter we have won the Canterbury Culture award for Excellence with our feature documentary film Watermark and achieved 2 kilometres of woolly bunting to welcome the Olympic torch into Dover with our Bunting Forever Project.

It is often not until you see the impact of a project that you can truly appreciate it and the spectacle of the 6,000 bunting flags running from the Market Square to the Town Hall and down to the sea front was received with delight by sceptics and believers alike.

An additional burst of colour came with the Celebration Pom Pom Arch that hung above the entrance to the underpass leading to the sea front. The Arch was commissioned by The World Famous for Song for DoverOlympic Torch Evening Celebration, in partnership with DDC, KCC and ACE It has now been transformed into a wall hanging and has a new indoor home at Dover Library.

Helped by the commission, DAD and DTC took the opportunity to clean up the Underpass, renovating and repainting the entire ceiling, unblocking the drains and painting a temporary ceremonial red carpet for Dover’s residents and visitors to access the evening torch celebrations. The much improved underpass is a real legacy from the games.

Our 20-month project, War & Peace, funded by ACE and KCC, with a very striking project logo designed by our graphic designer, Edda Jones,  is well under way: six separate but inter-related projects engaging participants and audiences in a visual, musical, poetic and intellectual reflection on place. The first of these was a one-month internship/residency in July for Korinna McRobert whose video work, ReFraming, shot in Cyprus and edited in Dover, was screened at The Royal Cinque Ports Yacht Club on 6 September 2012. The work is a filmic exploration of the trauma of invasion.

For a long time we have been thinking about how we as artists sit with our individual practice and DAD, what it means to run an “artist-led organisation” and how DAD fits that description. War & Peace is giving us both the chance to make the “artist-led” more transparent, viewing DAD as a synergic collaborative work or practice rather than an organisation. We talked about this publicly for the first time before members of the Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum in the Kaleidoscope Gallery in the Meeting Room exhibition, where we were both showing work.

For War & Peace, Clare led a project in response to the 20th anniversary of the discovery of Dover’s Bronze Age Boat. The Voyagers was a three-part installation in the Bronze Age Boat gallery. Two pieces of shared making by Clare Smith, Boats of Remembrance & Boat cloth of names were made during a 2-week residency in the Boat Gallery with expert assistance from Rosie James and the help of friends, craftmakers, artists, children, museum visitors and pupils from St Mary’s C of E primary school. The third element was Un bateau albanais: a video piece by French artist Philippe Bazin who received one of the first DAD Photography commissions in 2007.

Joanna, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved, Malene Skaerved, Nigel Clarke and Colin Still have all started their research for their collaborative works for next year’s War & Peace programme.

Our one-day symposium on Memorialisation, organised together with Dover Museum, is the most ambitious single event DAD has organised to date. With 6 presentations, lunch and a tour of The Voyagers Exhibition and the Bronze Age Boat, the Symposium explored the topic from a variety of angles, starting with a tour led by Mandy Whall and Tracy Stewart from the Western Heights Preservation Society of the Drop Redoubt and the Western Heights and ending with a reading by artist Chris Burke from William Cobbett’s very amusing discovery of the Western Heights in 1830.

We had 99 places available, of which 94 were booked, a reflection of the theme’s popularity and DAD’s increasing ability to reach an ever-growing audience for its work.

“This has been a fascinating symposium with many contrasting angles on the subject and providing much food for thought as well as informing the listener (this listener) with much unexpected information – visual + sound.”

This symposium was particularly relevant with Dover now at a crossroads regarding its future heritage development, with much discussion around the proposed developments at Farthingloe and the Western Heights and controversy around the possible privatisation of the Port of Dover. Since the symposium the National Trust has successfully raised the money to purchase a strip of the white cliffs.

Photographer Matthias Koch caused quite a stir when he arrived in Dover for 3 weeks in his 1975 Mercedes fire engine to photograph from the end of the 100-meter ladder. He is interested in historically important sites that present two visible, overlapping traces of time. He was able to park his fire engine among friends at the Dover Transport Museum during his visit.

War & Peace has an educational strand and thanks to brokering by Deal Festival for Music and the Arts, Peter Sheppard-Skaerved and Malene Skaerved have been able to deliver a workshop at Dover College. Malene Skaerved took part in a Voyagers workshop where she met Alison Trelfer, teacher at St Mary’s C of E and this led to another successful workshop at the primary school.

Filmmaker Dominic de Vere has been following the War and Peace Programme with a variety of film cameras. DAD has commissioned a project film for streaming through the DAD website at the end of the project which will be in a year’s time.

As joint custodians of the Dover Cultural Framework, with Dover Museum, we continue networking artists and creative practitioners based in Dover or wanting to come and work in Dover or the region with organisations and individuals who may enable them to realise their practice. We partnered Tonkin Liu Architects for a shingle planting event on Dover’s award-winning Esplanade as part of Love Architecture 2012: How does your Garden Grow. The continued aftercare of the plants by volunteers along with the wet summer has ensured that many plants have survived and are still flowering now in November.

DAD is collaborating with Artist Alma Tischler Wood, sustainable builder Jonathan Deacon and The Bay Trust on Tree with a View, a contemplative tree sculpture to be situated in St Margarets Bay. It is a Prosper Together Collaboration.

Our relationship with UCA students and Alumni continues and has become an important part of DAD’s work. Currently we are mentoring Carol Day, a current student on the MA Fine Art course, and recent graduate Miles Umney has been given a place with DAD as part of the UCA/Crate Curatorial Internship Programme. We are looking forward to his support and to helping facilitate his self-initiated project during his time with us.

On the horizon in the New Year is our participation in Sublet at the London Art Fair with ALISN (Artist-Led Initiatives Support Network) something very new for us! Wonder what we are going to sell?

Dover community radio is piloting on FM 87,7 it is proving a wonderful way of getting the word around in the community. We thank them for all their help and wish them much continued success.

We are grateful to all our funders and supporters.

Images by Joanna Jones, John Wood, Clare Smith, Rosie James