The 2021 TST Community Arts Project, ‘Looking back, moving forward’, was our biggest yet, involving hundreds of local people from all generations and culminating in a two-week art ‘take-over’ of the town from 3-16 July.
The centre piece of the event – Mr Doodle’s unique art installation – was unveiled the day before to the press by students from each of the Trust’s schools and members of the Memory Cafe who helped to create it. Mr Doodle – former student Sam Cox – devised the piece in 185 separate panels which only came together at the exhibition.
The Mayor of Tenterden, Cllr Dr Lisa Lovelidge, officially opened the event at the town station the following morning in the presence of the Mayor of Ashford, Cllr Callum Knowles; the then CEO of the Trust, Sally Lees; the Chair of the Kent and East Sussex Railway, Simon Marsh, and the project’s co-ordinator Executive Headteacher of the Tenterden Primary Federation & Rolvenden Primary School, Samantha Crinnion.
Tenterden Town Station
Alongside Mr Doodle’s installation there was an exhibition of the exceptional work of talented Homewood School A level and GCSE artists, while on the platform passengers were greeted by a sea of smiling portraits and waving hands. There was also a display of Humanities project work by Homewood students, covering the evolution of the Kent & East Sussex railway, housed in the information room opposite the ticket office.
St Mildred’s Church
The work of students from the Trust’s primary schools was on display in the new open layout of St Mildred’s Church
The High Street
Dozens of Tenterden businesses and shops signed up to display art in their windows and outside their premises. All of these were listed on an official art trail map, copies of which were available at all of the exhibition locations. Children who completed the quiz on the map were able to receive a special reward sticker when they handed it in at the end of the art trail at St Mildred’s Church.
Tenterden Town Museum also featured students’ work, alongside its summer exhibition ‘Our ever-changing high street’, looking at the evolution of the high street right up to the present day. On Sunday 17 July, three Homewood students were in charge of the Museum as part of their preparations to join the Sixth Form Ready For Work programme in September.
In addition, a group of Homewood sixth formers, who were taking the International Baccalaureate Career-related programme (IBCP), worked with the project team and the railway as part of the community engagement element of their studies.
The making of our community art
We pulled out all the stops to mark both the 60th anniversary of the preserved Kent & East Sussex Railway and to help celebrate the reopening of Tenterden High Street after a year like no other.
The chosen theme not only reflected the heritage railway’s milestone but also how the Tenterden community, like so many others around the country, were coming to terms with the previous 12 months and were moving positively into the future as a thriving environment for residents, businesses and visitors.
Over a number of months, students from all the Trust’s schools, children from Home Farm Nursery and members of community groups, including the Memory Café, were busy making hundreds of unique 2D and 3D portrait artworks like these colourful planters, made by Homewood students during wellbeing sessions, and these portraits :-
A touch of Mr Doodle magic!
The initiative had the support of both the borough and town councils, and international artist and former Homewood student Sam Cox, aka Mr Doodle.
Sam designed the art installation, consisting of 185 individual panels, and this was completed by groups of Year 5 and Year 6 primary school students from the TST and members of the Dementia Friends Memory Cafe.
What is the TST Community Art Project?
The TST Community Art Project was founded in 2018 as an annual initiative to bring together young people from the Trust’s five schools with older local residents and community groups through inspirational art and creativity. Its central aims are to:-
- Break down barriers between the generations, enable greater social interaction and help to build intergenerational friendships
- Support the mental health and wellbeing of the community through the therapeutic benefits of art – something that has become even more important over the last year as a result of the pandemic
- Enable older people to share their experiences and community knowledge with the younger generation
- Create great art to be shared with the community and visitors to Tenterden
Images from the 2018 and 2019 projects and events