A year-long project on the Isle of Sheppey for 18- 24 year olds which ran from August 2016 to September 2017. Working with Whitstable Biennale as lead artist, I programmed a series of artists to introduce the group to a range of creative practices- from visual artists, graphic designers, film makers, print makers and curators with side-lines in antiques dealing, cheese selling and fish mongering. The project started with a session led by myself, and the group worked towards producing their own events in Tate Modern and on the Isle of Sheppey.
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In September I invited Hannah Lees to lead a session introducing her influences, practice (including setting up a gallery in her boyfriend's Nan's garage) and current making processes. We went off-site to find graffiti carved into benches and brick walls in the surrounding streets. Using art materials and wrapping paper from our fish and chips we then made rubbings from the graffiti we found, in the same way people make brass rubbings in churches such as nearby Minster Abbey
In November graphic design studio Work Form (who designed the posters and fliers for the project) led a session in Sheerness. Alex and Jake introduced their practice and then the group created their own font 'Sheerness Sans' through printing with found objects on the streets and in the parks of the town. This font was later used as an element of the installation in TateExchange.
In December illustrator and print maker Jo Waterhouse led a session. She described funding her way through art school by selling antiques, and delivered a practical session in illustrating objects and then working together to make a display. Each object was placed by its creator in relation to others already placed before it. We kept moving objects until the group was satisfied collectively with the result.
In January filmmaker Andrew Kotting presented a selection of his works on the theme of Fairground to help us think about which films from the BFI collection to select for the upcoming installation at TateExchange.
The Stuff Happens Here project was invited to create an installation for TateExchange alongside a group of other Kent-based organisations. The theme all the organisations worked to was Fairground. As Whitstable Biennale specialise in film and performance it made sense to work with film material. At this point we were joined by Whitstble Biennale curator Mathew de Pulford to support the viewing and selecting of films to show, and the development of the physical installation at TateExchange.
Between monthly sessions I visited Sheppey with Catherine Herbert from Whistable Biennale to talk with the group about their own practice and how to develop and promote their work as artists.
In February Dylan Shipton helped the group construct a sculpture to then cover in a design made with a variety of coloured tape. This was to become the 'screen' through which viewers would have to put their face to view our selection of films. The patterns made with tape reflected the theme or visuals of each film behind.
For the installation at TateExchange the group chose 3 films from the BFI Collection. A giant sculptural screen was then designed as a 'Put Your Face in the Hole' so that audience members could watch the films, but would have to interact with the sculpture to do so. As a way of exploring who is 'on show' viewers experienced being watched watching.
The Stuff Happens Here project worked towards an event on Sheppey, which we decided to call Sad Cat Melts Secrets as an anagram of the first letter of the names of each of the people taking part. In August 2017 we organised an event in Holy Trinity Church Hall in the town centre of Sheerness. Over 2 days the group worked with Whitstable Biennale Curator Matthew de Pulford to pull together a dynamic temporary construction of both participants' own work and work made together with artists over the course of the project.
This image is a view through the re-contructed 'Put Your Face in the Hole' screen in the entrance to the hall through to painting and projection, clothing design, octopus prints on a projection onto bubble wrap and an installation of black and white portrait photographs.
During the Sad Cat Melts Secrets event we offered visitors the opportunity to experience the project and contribute to the works on display by trying Octopus printing. This process had been introduced to the group in October by Sam Curtis. Sam led a session describing how his creative practice became merged with his life as a fish monger. He then demonstrated how to make prints on rice paper using squid ink and octopus from a fish monger. This printing practice is derived from an historic Japanese art called Gyotaku, which it is believed came about as a way of recording the size of fish caught by fishermen. All materials, including the octopus are edible.
To celebrate the project and the dedication, curiosity, trust, skills and creativity of the group Whitstable Biennale invited the Deputy Mayor and Mayoress of Swale, Samuel and Doreen Koffie-Williams, to present each participant with a certificate to mark their achievement. Each certificate had a personal message outlining the skills and experience of participants to transfer to their CV.
I was commissioned by the Whitstable Biennale to produce the project Good Tidings which took place over the summer of 2015 on the Isle of Sheppey, just a mile across the water from Whitstable. Good Tidings was funded through Ideas Test and brought together a group to deliver three public events over the summer, gathering a collection of beautiful things made, found or seen by Island residents.
This aural document was compiled over three months in summer 2006. Comments were collected through both planned visits and initiated conversations on the streets of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate.
In ancient times Thanet was an island and in 2006 it was on the cusp of economic and cultural development. It was an area often marketed and branded for developers and investors.
Resort aimed to collate and celebrate both the momentous and minutiae of life lived in this corner of east Kent: Where people were married, which of the public toilets in Ramsgate were still open, and which butterfly breeds had recently been spotted.
In 2012 already some of the buildings photographed and places described no longer exist. Current developments are drawing large numbers of new residents and visitors to the area. The landscape of everyday life in Thanet continues to shift.
This project was commissioned by Gallery IOTA in Ramsgate and culminated in an exhibition 18 August to 10 September 2006. The programme was funded through Arts Council South East.
With thanks to:
Phil Oldfield- Gallery IOTA
Rosanna Arbon- audio production
Chris George- photography and project support
Phil Collins- technical assistance
KLAT took place on the Kingsmead Estate and Sutton House (a National Trust property) both in Homerton, Hackney (where I also lived).
A team of artists (KLAT staff) were recruited to engage local residents in conversation through topics suggested by a printed KLAT Guide with the aim of finding something they have in common.
Later versions of the project were commissioned as part of [SPACE]'s Roman Roadparty and the Mile of Art event on Goldsmith's Row in the same year.