Amazing News Flash: we’ve just been awarded an Arts Council grant for our autumn Dove Arts Festival: ‘Amazing Space’. Now, when I should be telling you all about it, I’m suddenly too busy! Stay posted, though, I’ll get back to it. In the meantime, here’s something I wrote while drafting ideas for the grant proposal:
I’ve been here for nearly 40 years.
‘Here’ being the Dove. Dove Centre, Dove Workshops, Dove Studios – in all its manifestations over its 45 years of being, it – I – we – have demonstrated continuous and ever maturing dedication to the arts and crafts. We have always operated outside a formal educational system yet have reached hundreds of people who, in search of a creative, supportive, maybe life-changing way forward, have beaten a path down the long drive, to be rewarded with the wide view, the studios, courses, events, community, self-development, space… Our isolation here is our opportunity.
So the Dove continues to animate this hidden spot, miraculously surviving in a changing and challenging world. This year, 5 artists will be showing work for the SAW Festival in various exhibition spaces: they are Mike Dodd, Sandie Roche, Tony Martin, Diana Milstein and myself.
In addition, the etching studio will house a ‘Mini Print’ exhibition and a ‘Book in a Drawer’ librarium with all work produced by past and present students and residents.
In addition I want this year to realise the full potential of the Dove’s Amazing Space by commissioning a series of art installations around the 1½ acres that surround the studios. This part of the project draws on the strong connections made over 45 years, from artists, makers, students and supporters, and will celebrate what the Dove has achieved.
Materials for the installations are already here. When we bought our ‘slice’ of the Dove it had precisely 2 trees on it. Now forty years later with mature trees and hedges, willows are to be pollarded, and hazel coppiced to supply poles, bark, wands, twigs; perfect for onsite sculpture, and providing a sustainable creative interlude for a few years before becoming fuel for the studio stove.
The commissioned artists:
Michael Fairfax from West Somerset, where he makes ‘sound’ instruments. He will build a sound sculpture around the pollard willows leading up to the studios. Visitors will be encouraged to join in regular improvisations.
Fiona Hingston, from the Mendips, will make ‘Pressings’ of plant materials gathered through the seasons, to be displayed in the windows of an unoccupied studio.
Bronwen Bradshaw, with members of the Dove Artists’ Book Club, will weave a large outdoor book of memories, printing onto willow bark and plaster of Paris.
Pennie Elfick from the Levels: her mural on the green shed will be a gradually developing colour symphony reflecting the landscape.
All stages will be documented via time lapse video as will the other installations.
The commissioned artists will gather here in July for a summer camp of making, creating a jazz-like improvisation of making. The jazz will carry on into the Autumn SAW Festival, with PV in September, workshops and talks, and (essential in my view) publication of a book to celebrate the Amazing Space that is the Dove, its people, its history, and the work produced for Momentum.
Amazing Space will create a lasting legacy, and give new momentum to the next phase of the Dove’s story.