An artist collective and the Victorian factory transformed:
A few years ago a group of South East Kent artists transformed a disused Victorian Dover factory into their creative studio workspaces. Dover based DAD (Dover Arts Development) artist Clare Smith discovered the vacant industrial unit and saw its potential as a much needed creative space within the town. Few traces remain of its previous industrial heritage dating back to 1900, except for an ancient wooden bench running the whole length of the ground floor studios. Spread across two floors, the spacious old building, which once manufactured, repaired and hired large marquee tents, now accommodates artists in light filled open plan workspaces.
Seven artists at the Dover studios work with a variety of media and techniques, but some use print in multiple forms as part of their professional practice. These range from traditional lino-cut relief printmaking techniques, through collotype to fluid mono-print experiments, and also chemically reactive/resistive processes.
The Dover Studio artists are proud to join with artists nearby in France and Europe-wide to celebrate together this eighth Fête de l’estampe annual series of printmaking events. Against the backdrop of an era of political divisions, pan-European collaborations across borders are of value and more important than ever; with this being our third consecutive year participating.
A peer-led print club meets monthly at the studios:
Artist Clare Smith runs a peer-led print club that meets monthly in the first floor studios, welcoming artists who wish to initiate and develop self researched print projects within a creative shared atmosphere.
The informal print (and drawing) club provides a perfect opportunity to pick up a new technique or explore an alternative printmaking process.
Future Foundry has involved over 1000 young people in Kent in projects that offer less advantaged and working class young people training in entrepreneurship, the creative industries and the circular economy.
Founder and Director Lisa Oulton explains, ‘the ultimate aim of the company is to enable the young people we work with to give up their low paid and zero hours employment, generate a living wage through their creative work – without moving out of the area; to develop their own creative and cultural activity that provides the experience, skills and self-belief they need to develop a creative career – and improve the town at the same time.’
In 2017 Future Foundry converted Biggin Hall, a neglected heritage building in the centre of Dover into a creative start up space with digital fabrication, textiles and printmaking facilities to support their growing network of young creatives who needed access to equipment and space.
Bringing together the artist networks from Future Foundry and Dover Studio Collective will create an exciting intergenerational festival and offer an exchange of approaches, knowledge and ideas including traditional printmaking techniques to the use of laser cutters and 3D printers.
Dover Print Festival Open Studio:
Saturday 30/5 & Sunday 31/5: Open Studio 11.00 – 16.00
Dover Studio Collective will welcome visitors to their Open Studios, as part of a series of Print Fair events in conjunction with Future Foundry in Dover, celebrating the 8th Fête de l’estampe in France. An informal event, this will be an opportunity to view a varied selection of prints while exploring traditional, experimental and practical printmaking processes with resident artists throughout the weekend.
Members of the regular studio Print Club will also be exhibiting some of their exciting print based projects which they having been developing in the studio this year. Entry to the open studio is free.
Currently in the UK public events or buildings are not permitted to open in a bid to slow the world-wide pandemic. It is impossible at present to foresee how long these emergency restrictions will continue for. If it still not possible to open our studios to the public, then the Print Festival event will be hosted across a number of virtual
locations, enabling artists to continue to present their printmaking to the public.
Future Foundry and The Big Print, Tuesday 26th May:
Our Open Day inviting the public to come and make a giant collaborative print, using traditional techniques and a 3D printer will instead involve us distributing printmaking materials to families through a local young carers charity. Online workshops on 26th May will engage everyone together in a giant printmaking day.
Future Foundry artists are also working on videos to share during the festival exploring printmaking using 3D printers, laser cutters and DIY kitchen material.
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Texts Mike Tedder and Lisa Oulton
All photos by Clare Smith, Mike Tedder and Lisa Oulton