Sep 272010

We had a marvelous time at the 2010 Village Green in Southend last weekend. Organised by Metal Culture and now in its third year, Village Green is an incredibly lively and diverse festival that celebrates the arts, culture and community. We don’t know what the body count was this year, but last year’s VG drew a whopping 20,000 people to its one-day extravaganza.

For this year’s VG, we devised a new interactive installation titled Space To Dream. The idea is simple: we invited passers-by into our 3x3m marquee and asked them to leave us a piece of a dream they’d had, whether the night before or from years ago. It might be only a fragment–a word, an image, an idea–or it might be an entire story. We provided some very simple kit for our dreamers to write, draw, make, stick and create any version of their dream piece they saw fit.

Our aim was collect as many dream fragments as possible during our day-long stint and we collected hundreds, from children and adults, residents and visitors. The result was a marvelously messy collage of ideas and images that was by turns uplifting, haunting, cryptic, funny and contemplative. We were thrilled that many of our morning dream leavers came back in the afternoon to see how it’d all turned out. Check out this Flickr link for a flavour of what transpired on the day.

Space To Dream was a riff on our most recent project in Southend, Space To Learn, which explored non-traditional teaching and learning spaces in the community. Ideas about how we can re-see spaces and places link both projects, but they’re also about how new vistas open up when we give ourselves the freedom to try something new, whether in a classroom or at a festival. A simple idea, and yet like all simple ideas sometimes requiring a bit of bravery to put into practice. We thank all of our Space to Dreamers for taking the leap last weekend.

Sep 202010

As we head firmly into autumn, it’s one last wave of the handkerchief to our site-responsive summer festival for Sittingbourne, re:bourne. If you go to this Flickr link, we’ve uploaded a small selection of photos that capture the essence of the two-day event. We’ll continue to add more photos as we’ve time to do so.

A re:bourne documentary film is in the editing suite as we write, and of course you’ll see it here first (unless you’re a re:bourne funder, supporter, artist, participant, community contributor, or any other miscellaneous brand of project co-conspirator, in which case you’ll first see the film at a special screening we’re organising for later in the year…details coming soon!)

Aug 122010

As respite from the Re:bourne ‘machine’,  I have been doing some research into Landscape and Environment Art; think Christo, Dennis Oppenheim and Andy Goldsmith.  I stumbled across this;

(Environmental Art)…is a “spatialisation of cultural politics”, a radical rethinking of the intersection between social relations, space and the community.  This rethinking can lead to a kind of IN-BETWEEN or THIRD SPACE, a lived space of radical openness and unlimited scope, where all histories and geographies, all times and places, are immanently presented and represented.   Edward Soja

My thoughts exactly!

I hope on some level Re:bourne is able to achieve some of these things.  At its best it will be  a ‘creative disruption’ or ‘interruption’ that enables the community to inhabit a transgressive space between bricks and mortar and day to day life; it will  a critique of what is already there , an invitation to change literally and emotionally.  At worst, it will simply enrich shoppers experience as they collect their frozen peas from Iceland.

Aug 032010
As we approach T-minus one week for re:bourne, a shout-out is required to the A.E. Barrow & Sons Bakery and Coffee Shop in Sittingbourne. For the past few months, this has been the unofficial HQ for all things re:bourne, both because of the undeniable quality of their Chelsea buns and because they don’t have an issue with us lot stomping in and out of their otherwise tranquil coffee shop at all hours of the day and generally causing a bit of a commotion: architectural maps strewn across tables, choruses of laptops clickety-clacking away, the stultifying babble of multiple voices discussing the art of road closure, etc. Being conscientious types, we’ve asked them if they mind. The response? ‘No, love. Why would we?’

High on the wall in the coffee shop are photos of Mr. & Mrs. A.E. Barrow, circa early 20th century, and one ‘son’ and his wife taken a bit more recently. A proper family shop, then, doing a thriving trade in nice food with a happy, welcoming vibe. Thank you, Barrow folks…you’ve made many a day of hard re:bourne planning that much easier (and tastier…)

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Aug 022010
Sparky, a lively and very animated character who has been making friends throughout Kent this year, is looking forward to making a special visit to Sittingbourne during re:bourne on 13-14 August. Here, one of Sparky’s friends, artist Ciaran McKay, talks about his re:bourne experience to date: 

“Since being part of this project, I have visited Sittingbourne a few times and have noticed a number of shops either boarded up or closing down. However, I noticed that two of the shops that were still doing good business were local butchers and bakers, two trades that i would imagine have been part of the town as it has grown over the centuries. On one of my visits I overheard two people commenting on the downfall of the high street, highlighted by disappointment in their voices. I thought to myself that I hope they are around during re:bourne to witness something special on the high street…maybe a new beginning for the renovation of this historic town.”

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Jul 302010
Wendy Daws’ ‘Shadow Catching’ will be part of re:bourne on 13-14 August. Her thoughts on the project thus far:

“For me, Sittingbourne has been somewhere you drive by on the way to somewhere else. I’ve not had a reason to visit the High Street, but it has a fascinating history and I’m very happy to be immersing myself in it.”

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Jul 292010
Today we’re posting the first of several bits of reflection from some of our re:bourne artists about the process of creating their re:bourne work; its impact on them as artists, and their hopes for its effect on Sittingbourne, Swale and beyond. We’ll post some random shots we’ve taken of the event site over the past few months of working there to accompany each bit of reflection…a small, slightly random bit of associative virtual art in advance of our big, non-virtual event on 13-14 August.

The following is from Swale-based artist Julie Bradshaw, whose interactive work ‘Tide & Time’ will be on our programme:

“Taking part in re:bourne has excited and enthused me. It has acted as a catalyst in making me more determined to raise the profile of Sittingbourne and Swale as an area to host art events that are both challenging and enjoyable, contemporary and traditional, and which would have people from many different locations wanting to visit and participate.”

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Jul 282010
…of a long-unused shop, and amazing things happen. This is Lucy doing a bit of tidying in one of our re:bourne event spaces. So many people came up to us asking what we were doing, remarking on how great it was to see these shops occupied, even for an hour or two.

In a small way, this is a demonstration of the potential for arts-led community events to shed new and positive light on familar places. And for us it’s wonderful motivation as we close in in our re:bourne weekend: Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14 August, 2:30 to 5:30 on both days.

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