Chalk and Cheese was a seven-month project in Ebbsfleet Kent. Ebbsfleet is becoming a Healthy New Town, and this project was the first time I have been able to explore links between my practice and my experience as a Cheese Monger. Using cheese tasting as a starting point for one-to-one conversations about skills and interests in both art/craft and food, I drew up a map of connections between participants in both new developments and established towns in Ebbsfleet.  I then invited artists Lydia Brockless and Charlene Sandy to devise making workshops for a range of community groups using food and plants as part of the process. Activities included casting vegetables in concrete to make food platters, making natural dyes from plants and then using Japanese Shibori techniques to dye napkins, vegetable block-printing with natural dyes to decorate tea towels and a table runner, using fruit and vegetables to print onto aprons, creating clay slab-cups textured and decorated with drawings of food, and working with graphic design company Work-Form to print letter forms made with plants and vegetables and create a bespoke, useable font called 'Veggie-type'.  All of these physical elements, and the group leaders and participants were brought together at The Gathering- a lively community event which took place in Swanscombe on 23rd March 2019.  For more information go to:    www.facebook.com/estherlouisecollins
The Gathering
 This is a detail of the table display for The Gathering showing slab-cups and concrete cast food platters made in workshops with Lydia Brockless, vegetable block-printed table runner and tea towels made in workshops with Charlene Sandy using natural dyes and some pasta made with squid-ink (something I was experimenting with in the studio) presented with Graceburn cheese made by Blackwoods Dairy who we visited as part of the project.  During The Gathering event Lydia Brockless ran a table decoration workshop using dyed plaster cast in paper cups and dried plants found locally.
 As part of the project I worked with graphic design company Work-Form to run a  workshop with 1st Northfleet Scouts and the Farm Club at Northfleet School for Girls. We were lucky enough to be able to work on-site in the community farm classroom surrounded by rabbits, guinea pigs, axolotles, African snails and geese and goats outdoors. During the workshop we printed letter forms for the alphabet which Work-Form have since made into a functioning font for the project.
 Workshop with Lydia Brockless in Castle Hill Community Centre which is in the first phase of the new development. Lydia, a sculptor, developed a workshop using concrete to cast food stuff to produce plates or platters which were used in the public event in March.  Concrete has a specific relevance to this geographical area (and the development) as it is shaped by huge chalk pits which were created as part of the by-gone concrete industry.
 Workshop with Lydia Brockless in the Community Cafe at St Mary’s Greenhithe (one of the historic town communities)
 One of the concrete cast food platters produced by participants
 A visit to the First Northfleet Scouts to introduce the Chalk and Cheese project, talk about cheese and potential making activities for workshops
 A diagram I designed to support and illustrate conversations with people I meet about who I am, why I am in Ebbsfleet and what I, and participants were working towards
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