OSE associates visit Kearsney Abbey and Fort Burgoyne

The Explorers

On Tuesday May 28th, 12 Associates from Open School East, founded in East London in 2013 and operating in Margate since 2017, came to view two exciting developing cultural spaces in Dover.

They met with DAD director Joanna Jones at Kearsney Abbey where Dover Arts Development is nearing the end of curating and co-delivering Art in the Park – Kearsney Interpreted,  an 18-month ACE funded project with Dover District Council. The project comprises 10 artists’ residencies, as well as the ‘Park Bench’ project, which brings together work by 58 visual artists, poets and musicians living in Dover and the surrounding area.

The project launches Kearsney Abbey and Russell Gardens as cultural venues open to artists’ projects in the future.

After coffee at ‘the park container cafe’ we walked down the River Dour to the River gate and back passing the swan with all her cygnets and a very proud protective father. Across the bridge we met  John Wood, Rob Hedley Dray and Chris adding the finishing touches to Alma Tischlerwood’s ALICE before its launch on 1 June.

Alma Tischlerwood’s sculpture is one of the larger commissions for Art in the Park – Kearsney Interpreted. She has spent over a month in Dover during her period of research, planning and the build itself. The sculpture is intended for daily use as a bench, a place for contemplation and on occasions as a performance space.

Then off to the West Wing at Fort Burgoyne where we were joined by OSE director Anna Colin.

Chris Valdus, the Fort Burgoyne Heritage Project Manager, very generously  showed us all around the West Wing and Fort Burgoyne itself: over the ramparts, inside on the ground floor and the floor below.

The Land Trust, who own Fort Burgoyne, and Pioneering Places have recently commissioned a team to help develop and trial ideas for the Fort and its West Wing for future public use and enjoyment as well as to stabilise and conserve the historic structures as they stand.

Pioneering Places is part of the national Great Places Scheme, an ambitious project that will make East Kent an even better place to live, work and visit by exploring heritage, developing civic pride and connecting artists and communities. Four projects in Canterbury, Dover, Folkestone and Ramsgate are being led by cultural organisations to encourage local people to get involved and shape the place where they live. Supported through Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with Historic England and Artswork, the South East Bridge.

It is as part of Pioneering places that Charles Holland Associates and DAD developed their Explorers programme for the West Wing. Once the ideas from the community engagement programme have been collected onto the big drawing, DAD will be developing the artists brief for the call out to artists for a new commission for an artwork on the site.

The day ended around the table in DAD’s Urban Room with refreshment and conversation.