Skip to content

Dartford Revival Gallery

November 20, 2013

Revival Flier

I dropped into the Revival gallery in Dartford last Friday.

This ‘pop up gallery’ is part of the Dartford Creative series of events, which focuses on the arts as one way to revive Dartford’s town centre.

I met Nicola Yuen there and we had a very interesting and wide ranging chat. Nicola has pulled the exhibition of local artists together, with a lot of help from her (actual and metaphorical) friends – within a couple of weeks of this particular space even being identified. So it’s remarkable what has been achieved… with some of the improvised furnishings resonating perfectly well with the transitory nature of the gallery.

I’m not an art critic. But I found plenty to make me think and give me space to contemplate a little – in a peaceful space, in Dartford town centre, a few yards from a busy roundabout and the station approach!

I had my favourites – and here are a few of them (below) – but I’m not an art photographer either and I struggled a bit with the compromise between a square on shot and picking up the flare from the downlights.

I think Revival has done several things. It’s an example of local people contributing in a variety of ways to getting a non-trivial arts event up and running.

It poses a question about ‘What Next?’ for more local artists and more local spaces.

It poses a similar question about what we might do in inventive and cost effective ways with vacant commercial property in the town centre.

Most of all, though, I think it has made me think about what happens when you follow through the idea that local artists have a role in enlivening our town centre. So far we are exploring the idea that they can act as a ‘draw’, embody commercial activity in their own right [like Stephen Oliver’s gallery in the Orchard shopping centre], and contribute to public engagement with the arts through the activities like those at One Bell Corner on Saturday afternoons.

I wonder if it goes further though. These are creative people. In the broadest sense, creativity is what’s needed to bring new thinking to the problems that town centres like Dartford are facing… to avoid merely shoring up old models without examining them.

Collectively, should ‘local artists’ have a voice – on matters such as the overall aesthetics and appeal of the town, and in re-imagining a Dartford which can be achieved within the constraints on what public bodies can do.

If Dartford Creative and Revival have started to rally our artists, let’s not just ask them to leaven our town’s leisure and economy for a while. Let’s keep them here, and listen to what they have to say about place making and participatory culture. Nicola’s own site has some pointers to this.

Revival runs until the 22nd of November. So you only have a couple of days left to go and view it. This Thursday, 21st November, 6pm to 9pm there’s an informal social event, with music, to mark the end of the exhibition – a sort of mirror to the ‘Private View’ with which it started. All welcome. I’ll definitely be going.

Perhaps it’s also your chance to catch Revival, and even get to talk more about the future of the art in Dartford [see what I did there?]

Maybe see you there then?

Charles Keen and Max Jackson

Charles Keen and Max Jackson

Emma Tann

Emma Tann

Amber Anderson

Amber Anderson

Nicola Yuen

Nicola Yuen

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: