TST Community Art Festival gets underway

TST Community Art Festival gets underway

The Tenterden Schools Trust (TST) Community Art Project ‘Looking Back, Moving Forward’ is underway, taking over the town for two weeks from 3-16 July) to celebrate both the reopening of the high street and the 60th anniversary of the preserved Kent & East Sussex railway. 

Art has popped up everywhere around the town. Hundreds of works of art from the Trust’s five schools and nursery, plus adults from the town’s community groups, are being showcased in exhibitions at Tenterden Town Station, St Mildred’s Church and Tenterden Museum, along with shop window displays and balconies adorned with colourful flower planters.

The centre-piece of the two-week festival is a bespoke art installation designed by international artist and former Tenterden Schools Trust student Sam Cox, aka Mr Doodle at Tenterden Town station. It is made up of 185 separate panels which were individually completed by Year 5 and Year 6 students from all the Trust schools and members of the Dementia Friends Memory Café and then assembled by Mr Doodle.

The giant mural was unveiled by representatives from all these groups and the Mayor of Ashford on Friday (2 July), prior to the public start of the event on Saturday (3 July).

Inspiring collaboration

Speaking at the launch, Sam Cox said: “I really enjoyed working on this project with everyone involved. I think collaboration can be a great thing and I always really enjoy working with the community. It was really fun to see how the children and Memory Cafe members made their doodles because they all doodle in their own unique way with individual patterns and characters. I love seeing those different interpretations of doodles because it inspires my own work. I am really happy with the outcome of the project, the pieces look great and everyone involved should be really proud of what they have achieved.”

Accompanying the installation is a display of exceptional work by Homewood School’s talented A Level and GCSE artists in their first public art show since 2019.

Meanwhile Tenterden High Street has been turned into one long portrait gallery.  Over 30 businesses signed up to be part of the giant exhibition, displaying an array of portraits in their windows and colourful flower planters outside their premises.

Visitors will be able to pick up an art trail map, listing all the participating venues and businesses, at each of the main venues. Children can also take part in an art trail quiz on the map, designed to highlight the history of Tenterden.

Healing power of art

Looking back, moving forward: all aboard the Tenterden Community Train – not only reflects the heritage railway’s milestone but also how the Tenterden community, like so many others around the country, are coming to terms with the last 12 months and moving positively into the future as a thriving environment for residents, businesses and visitors.

Samantha Crinnion, Executive Headteacher of the Tenterden Primary Federation, who is leading this year’s project, said: “Art has an amazing healing power for both individuals and the community. Using it as a medium to connect us and bring joy to all locally and visitors who come to Tenterden has always been at the heart of the project since it first started four years ago.

“Our community art project has never been more important than it is this year. The last 12 months have been incredibly difficult for everyone. It has particularly impacted on the mental health and wellbeing of our children and those older members of the community who have felt isolated or been shielding.”

 The TST Community Art Festival runs until Friday 16 July and more details can be found on the Trust’s website https://tenterden-schools-trust.com/communityartproject/ Updates are also being posted on Instagram @tstcommunityart