The first time I arrived in the W10 area in August 2017, I travelled via car from the hostel I was staying in, loaded up with art equipment to run workshops for families affected by the Grenfell fire. I was later glad I had approached the workshop with almost rose-tinted glasses, traveling straight to the workshop space. I’m not sure I would have initially been able to deliver that session in the same way, had I seen the Grenfell tower first, I will explain later.
I had responded to a call out for volunteers to help with the summer activity programme via Arts Emergency. I then asked whether people in my network would like to help with purchasing materials, knowing that it really wasn’t all that far away from Medway and my own community had been impacted too. Paint The Town festival also kindly sponsored the workshops which paid for enough materials for 2 workshop sessions and my travel costs.
The session in August went so well, the venue was absolutely packed and I had multiple craft activities on offer. First we had wooden boat decorating, then T-Shirt printing, then stress putty! Something so tactile like this can be an excellent stress reliever – some of them couldn’t leave it alone for the rest of the afternoon!
All the people there were a delight to work with and it was reassuring to know there were trained counsellors present in case any families needed support. I brought a friend too, Saira, who has over 20 year experience in nursing. I have training in mental health first aid for young people, but my experience so far had never amounted to a local disaster like this.
There wasn’t anything in particular I could say was different about the workshop, young people are at first glance so resistant – often inside there are a lot more issues, that they may not have even realised yet. I could tell the young people and parents really appreciated the effort everyone was making to support them and provide distracting activities.
And heck do they need distraction.
Once the workshop was finished myself and Saira made our way to Latimer Road station. The walls of the pathways leading to the station are covered in memorials, missing posters, and big big signs demonstrating an understandable anger of residents – One sticks in my mind in particular, just reading “WHY?”.
Then we reached the station, where the Grenfell tower itself looms over the community. We all know what it looks like don’t we? I thought I did. But let me make it clear, nothing, absolutely nothing, can prepare you for how black that tower is, it is completely incinerated. Myself and Saira look up, tearfully and discuss the tragedy. We discuss when we found out, both unaware initially of the real devastation – us both knowing we will probably never really know the true devastation in fact. Only that community truly knows and to this day it is being very well disguised as to how and why the tragedy happened.
Visiting again today (11th November) months later, the missing posters have turned to beautiful memorials and shrines for those who are definitely lost. I’m not talking small hidden memorials, the whole of Bramley Road is decorated. My heart sinks. Most people across the UK have stopped talking about the incident, and yet every day families STILL have to deal with the bereavement. People are still living in hotels having not been rehoused yet, the council clearly not being quick to lend a hand in housing communities in the area they live due to London rent prices.
A stall is next to the station raising awareness of a people’s inquiry into exactly what happened that day and promoting prevention of it ever happening again. The lady on the stall explains she’s heard a PR company have been commissioned to take care of the way news about Grenfell is presented. I don’t know what to say.
Today running a second session for the amazing project “Kids on The Green”, I did notice children’s behaviour being more unsettled than previously. The impact of what happened would do that, especially over time with a lot still not being resolved 5 months on. Bereavement and loss will always have an impact somehow. That’s why I wanted to help in some way, even just to be a friendly face.
If you would like to help families impacted by the Grenfell fire you can donate to the Kids On The Green Project via You Caring www.youcaring.com/kidsonthegreenfamilies-886162
Thank you to Paint The Town Festival for sponsoring the bulk of my workshop costs and to the following people for their additional amazing support:
Emma Williams (Shadow Paper Cuts)
Experience a diverse range of artworks in the show 51°23’00.2″N, 0°30’56.0″E from ‘We are Here’ collective – featuring the work of 21 graduating BA and MA Fine Art students in the School of Music and Fine Art at the University of Kent (Medway). The exhibition takes place at Chatham House, 351 Rochester High Street, a beautiful historic Georgian building.
The Private View is Friday 8th December, 6-8pm. Guests meet at Chatham House to view the artworks before gathering at the Northern Seaman pub across the road for food + drink. https://thenorthernseaman.wordpress.com/
Book for the Private View via the Eventbrite link. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/we-are-here-collectives-private-view-5123002n-030560e-tickets-40031850342
The Show will be open to the public as follows:
Saturday 9 December – Wednesday 13 December, 11am-4pm. It is FREE to attend.
Links and further info:
On Tuesday 28th November in the Galvanising Workshop, Historic Dockyard Chatham from 5.15pm – 6.45pm, the next School of Music and Fine Art Visiting Artist Talk of the Autumn term will be Malawi born London based artist and author Samson Kambalu. Working in a variety of media, including site-specific installation, video, performance and literature, he has shown his work around the world and won research fellowships with Yale University and Smithsonian Institution, and is Associate Professor of Fine Art at Ruskin College and fellow at Magdalen College, Oxford University.
Previous speakers in this exciting programme of talks from visiting artists, writers, filmmakers, curators and performers, with national and international profiles. have included Lindsay Seers, Jeremy Deller, Oreet Ashery, Sonia Boyce, Rebecca Gordon-Nesbitt and John Russell.
FREE to attend but booking via Eventbrite. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/school-of-music-and-fine-art-visiting-artist-talk-samson-kambalu-tickets-38497857127
image courtesy of the artist
From 8 – 12 May, there is a veritable feat of exciting, immersive and innovative events that showcase the final independent projects from third year students on the Event and Experience Design programme in the School of Music and Fine Art. More info here https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events/eed-projects-2017.html
The Events Schedule (subject to change) is below and although FREE to attend, booking is via Eventbrite: http://bit.ly/2pQPc8H
Monday 8th May
ShuXin Wong: “MT Playhouse” – 12.00pm – 2.00pm Namur Room in Mess Deck, CHDT.
A participatory product launch event for Japanese product MT (decorative reusable masking tape). Live entertainment – Malaysian & world pop songs and craft activities related to creative travel journals.
Jake Thornton: “Dock Box”, 2.00pm – 4.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An alternative video tour of the Dockyard, a constructed narrative of filmic space and time.
Tuesday 9th May
Elise Berdah: “Fight Flight Freeze”, Drill Hall Library, Café – Archibald Hay Mess, Tuesday & Wednesday 10.00am – 9.00pm.
An immersive experience examining participants’ attitudes to and understanding of the issue of consent and serious sexual assault in Universities in the UK & US. This installation contains explicit accounts. The installation is a collaboration with Kent Union Welfare and Wellbeing team and is part of a week of awareness raising events.
Kira Tisbury: “Festopia”, 1.00pm – 4.00pm Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An interactive immersive event, sharing memories of festival participation and experience.
Kirsten Short: “Hooked”, 11.00am – 7.00pm – Tuesday to Saturday (11.00am – 8.00pm Thursday) Box Park, 2 – 10 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch E1 6GY. A London launch and live retail event for online retailer “Hooked”.
Wednesday 10th May
Kylie (Min Jing) Lee: “Through the Lens”, 12.00pm – 2.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
A participatory photography & travel/cultural event.
Savannah Giorgi: “A day”, 5.00 – 6.00pm – St Bartholomew Hospital Chapel, 5 Gundulph Road, Rochester High Street, ME4 4ED
An immersive and interactive video engaging with the dilemma’s and drama of everyday life.
Thursday 11th May
Linh Chi Dinh: “Vietnam through my eyes”, 12.00pm – 2.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Production Space.
An immersive autobiographical video journey in Vietnam.
Luisa Armand Ugon: “Moonshine”, 9.00pm till late at the Deep End, Student Hub, Pembroke Campus.
Rewind to the illicit society of 1920’s America. Jazz, flappers and mafia come together for a unique prohibition bar experience.
Friday 12th May
Greta Pencheva: “Inside the Raindrop”, 1.00pm, Gulbenkian Theatre.
Live and mediated dance performance.
Leah Stewart: “Unwind at University”, 12.00pm – 5.00pm – Galvanising Shop, Café & Production Space.
Participatory well-being event in collaboration with The University of Kent Student Support and Wellbeing Team. Pets as Therapy, Drop-in Meditation and wellbeing tips and tricks and more TBC!
IMAGE from Luisa Armand Ugon: “Moonshine
The School of Music and Fine presents the End of Year/Graduation Shows for Fine Art, Event and Experience Design and Music, celebrating the talents of our amazing students!
SMFA End of Year Show Schedule of Events (subject to change)
All events take place at Historic Dockyard Chatham. Entrance is via the Galvanizing Shop Café and reception.
Fine Art Degree Show: “Reverberate”
Open to the public: Sunday 21st May to Friday 26th May, 10am til 5pm (closed Tuesday 23 May) and Saturday 27th May, 10am til 5pm
Special Private View on Saturday May 20th, 1pm-6pm, with guest speaker, Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller, and special performances. For guest list contact email@example.com
Event and Experience Design Live Events: “Borderless”
Monday 8th May to Friday 19th May in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space
Event and Experience Design Showcase
Open to the public: Sunday 21st May to Friday 26th May, 10am til 5pm (closed Tuesday 23 May) and Saturday 27th May, 10am til 5pm
BMus. Final Public Performances Showcase
Talented graduating students on Music and Popular Music pathways offer a rich mix of musical styles. Not to be missed!
Venue: Cargo Bar, Liberty Quays
Tuesday 16th May 4-8pm
Wednesday 17th May 4-8pm
Venue: Galvanising Shop Performance Space
Wednesday 17th May 11am – 12.45pm
Monday 22nd May & Tuesday 23rd May: Technology in Performance
To get your FREE tickets go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/school-of-music-and-fine-art-end-of-yeargraduation-shows-2017-tickets-33004272668
For more info go to https://www.kent.ac.uk/smfa/events/degree-show-2017.html
School of Music and Fine Art students are organising a series of creative workshops and events to engage with the community and raise awareness of, and funds for, their upcoming Degree Show.
This Henna Workshop, with local henna artist and teacher, Lynn Smith, costs £5 (includes materials) and is limited to 25 participants. To book, contact Nicole firstname.lastname@example.org
The venue is The Deep End, Student Hub, North Road, Chatham Maritime
School of Music and Fine Art students are organising a series of creative workshops and events to engage with the community and to raise awareness, and additional funds for, their upcoming Degree Show.
The first event, organised by the Fine Art Degree Show Private View and Engagement Team, will be a life drawing workshop on Wednesday 8th March from 6-8pm in the Clock Tower Building (Rooms 301-302) at the Historic Dockyard Chatham. It is open to everyone (age 16+) and only costs £1.
Please contact Charlene email@example.com to reserve your space.
The next Visiting Artist Talk from the University of Kent’s School of Music and Fine in The Royal Dockyard Church at the Historic Dockyard Chatham takes place on Tuesday February 28th, with poetry, multimedia and video artist Heather Phillipson.
Heather Phillipson’s videos and sculptural installations collide images, noises, objects, language and bodies – attending to how physical and affective ‘selves’ are constructed, manipulated and, above all, escape. Often rendered as walk-in conglomerations of readily accessible materials (digital images, paint, cardboard, words, audio loops and reproducible consumer detritus), her works stake out an ambiguous territory in which cultural references and emotional responses are mutually contingent and reactive. Phillipson’s solo projects in 2016 include Whitechapel Gallery London, Frieze Projects New York, the 32nd Sao Paulo Bienal, Images Festival Toronto, and a major new commission for the Arts Council Collection. Recent solo exhibitions include: Schirn Frankfurt; the 14th Istanbul Biennial; Performa New York; Sheffield Doc/Fest (with Serpentine Galleries); Opening Times (otdac.org); Dundee Contemporary Arts; BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, Serpentine Park Nights and a video commission for Random Acts, Channel 4 television.
Also an award-winning poet, she has published three volumes of poetry and was named a Next Generation Poet in 2014. Writer in Residence at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2015, Phillipson was awarded the Friends of Literature Prize from Poetry journal in 2016, and writes a regular column for Art Review. She has been shortlisted for the Film London Jarman Award 2016.
On Tuesday 28 March, writer Maria Fusco is the speaker. Maria Fusco is a Belfast-born writer based in Glasgow, working across fiction, criticism and theory, and has been translated into ten languages. Her latest work, Master Rock, is a repertoire for a mountain commissioned by Artangel and BBC Radio 4. Her solo-authored books are With A Bao A Qu Reading When Attitudes Become Form, 2013 (Los Angeles/Vancouver: New Documents, 2013), Gonda, 2012 and The Mechanical Copula, 2011 (both published Berlin/New York: Sternberg Press) and she is founder of The Happy Hypocrite, a journal for and about experimental writing. She is currently a Reader at the University of Edinburgh and was Director of Art Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London. New books in 2017 are Legend of the Necessary Dreamer (London: Vanguard Editions) and Give Up Art: Collected Writings (Los Angeles/Vancouver: NewDocuments).
The artist talks start at 6.15pm and are FREE to attend but please book via Eventbrite.
image credit: Publicity still from Master Rock, experimental radio play, written and
directed by Maria Fusco, 42 mins 17 secs, broadcast on BBC Radio 4.