Latest contribution from Anna Tea

Latest contribution to @TheresaEaston’s #WW1 trench & folk art project. Strong images from Ukraine.

WW1 Trench & Folk Art

Anna Tea, Ukraine, presents a series of work originally commissioned for I am the warrior an ongoing project by artists Juneau Projects which celebrates creativity and making in all its forms with Wysing Arts Centre and Kettle’s Yard’s Circuit young peoples’ group.








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Exciting new project exploring Trench Art using Mail Art is underway!

Nice blog post by @theresaeaston about her new #WW1 trench art project with @dottodotart…

WW1 Trench & Folk Art


Exploring Trench Art at Beamish Exploring Trench Art at Beamish

”I have been working on this ww1 Mail Art project since  August 2013, building connections with Mail Artists both nationally and internationally.   The project is now in a progress thanks to HLF funding through their Young Roots programme  and a range of partnerships including  Hartlepool Borough Council and  their Integrated Youth Support Service, with some fantastic heritage support from the Heugh Battery and the volunteers, as well as Beamish Museum,  and still to come, the Museum of Hartlepool. ” Theresa Easton

Working  with Dot to Dot Active Arts  the project will see young people and volunteers from the Heugh Gun Battery working together to explore the First World War heritage of Hartlepool and the heritage of Trench Art

4th August Beamish Museum 4th August Beamish Museum

Volunteers and young people will explore the social history behind Trench Art using First World War heritage at the Heugh Gun…

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‘All in this together’

François Matarasso’s ‘All in this together’ (2013) offers a powerful critique of the de-politicisation of art

François Matarasso

Floyd Road Mural, Steve Lobb and Carol Kenna, 1976 Floyd Road Mural (Charlton, London UK) by Steve Lobb and Carol Kenna, 1976

The de-politicisation of community art in Britain, 1970-2011

The term ‘community art’ came into use in Britain at the beginning of the 1970s, at a time when the cultural experimentation of the 1960s was confronted both by harsh economic conditions and by more concerted resistance from a cultural establishment beginning to recognise the nature of the challenge to its authority it was facing. Community art was used to describe a complex, unstable and contested practice developed by young artists and theatre makers seeking to reinvigorate an art world they saw as bourgeois at best and repressive at worst.

The phrase ‘community art’ fell out of favour at the beginning of the 1990s, to be replaced by the seemingly-innocuous alternative, ‘participatory arts’, though the original term is still used by some people and may even be in the…

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AGL: above ground level

As founder of dot to dot active arts CIC – a member organisation for socially engaged artists and arts workers that’s fiercely independent and always grassroots – I’m committed to working with communities and our artists to develop new ideas to mix art and life openly and honestly.  We worked in Blyth, Northumberland last year, met loads of really interesting and desperately passionate people, did some great participatory art, revived empty shops.  Many people wanted more.  So we’re back with a new project.  This post attempts to explain why and a bit more about what we’ll be doing.

dot to dot active arts was only formed in January 2013.  Old-New Curiosity Shop was our first major arts project.  We chose to work in the Northumbrian post-industrial coastal port of Blyth.  Some of us had produced arts interventions there before; some of us lived there (or nearby).  We managed to convince Arts Council England, Northumberland County Council, other local funders and sponsors to support us.  Even the local MP and some local councillors backed our work.  We took on two empty shops and did lots of free art workshops in them.  Anyone could drop in.  The response from the people of Blyth and the surrounding areas was astounding.  We were sad when our project finished.  Happy that we’d worked well as a team and created a down-to-earth place for people to create things, but sad that we left a void – people wanted us to stay and keep doing what we were doing.  Not everyone though.  Some local arts organisations and artists were (given their clear messages given to us during our project) no doubt very pleased to see the back of us.  Success can sometimes be threatening to some.  That’s completely understandable in one sense.

AGL two crop

We listened to local people and our members.  We worked with Arts Council England and other local funders.  We found an amazing new space – an empty 2,000 square feet open plan office with shop frontage, accessible and in lovely condition.  We made another project happen in Blyth.  That project is AGL (above ground level)It starts in a few days and will run until the end of October 2014.  But this is a pilot, a test.  We want to work with local people and local staff and our artists to make AGL something more permanent.  Not a place for state agenda supporting participatory art.  Our first project in Blyth was, for me, more grassroots participatory than grassroots socially engaging.  Not a bad thing.  Part of our engagement strategy.  We did not suggest that Old-New Curiosity Shop was going to be complicit in furthering participatory art as a creative cure-all solution.  It wasn’t.  No arts project ever will be.

But AGL is different in three key ways.  First, this project is about introducing issue-based and theme-based socially engaged arts sessions to local people.  A more focused approach; more challenging; still grassroots.  Second, AGL wants to develop our own artists (their practice and by their hands-on training of trainees), our own local members (by working as staff who will develop their own roles and deepen our links with the community), a local apprentice (who will learn by first-hand, in-at-the-deep end experience how to run projects and an arts organisation our way), and, critically, local people of all ages to challenge themselves and others through learning new forms of artistic practice and new ways of expressing their feelings about their communities.  Third, we hope the project will develop itself into a longer-term project that will enable the space to continue to be used as a place for local people to develop their own new arts projects and events as well as to experience meetings with other artists from around the country.  A free-range incubator for do-it-yourself and do-it-with-others ideas, not a cultural R&D centre.

We want our socially engaged project to be different from other ‘participatory’ arts projects in the area.  Not more of the same.  Our workshops will mix contemporary arts practice with social justice to ask questions without answers; to challenge people to express themselves openly in their own ways.  There will be sessions about personal stories, about gender and sexuality, about climate change, about wars, about the body, about back alleys, about culture, about digital, about street sounds…  above ground level is an attempt at grassroots socially engaged arts in the local community that, like last year’s project, doesn’t know what will happen yet is certain lots of interesting things will happen.  It is not about looking back at bygone days of industrial greatness.  It is not about art for art’s sake.  It is not about ticking boxes or making claims about wellbeing and happiness or economic benefits of arts and culture.  It is about having a safe potential space where creative things might happen.  A place inspired by notions of the carnivalesque and of playing and reality.  Somewhere where nonconformity is encouraged.

So that’s us; that’s AGL.  Oh, and why the title?  It is about altimeters measuring the ever-changing height of a moving object over the changing height of the changing terrain below.  AGL is essential to safe navigation, to accurate atmospheric measurements.  AGL is also a statement of intent: to avoid revisiting the area’s historic coal mining past.  Finally, AGL is a place from which you can ‘parachute into’ another place.  A criticism often (wrongly) levelled at us.  To me, it doesn’t really matter whether you parachute in or embed yourself for x number of months/ years.  It matters what you do with local people whilst your there.  It matters that good things come to an end.  It matters that there is an end.  Not THE END as a finality.  An end as potential for new beginnings, new independence.