Guest blog: Tess Acheson, Studio TAC
In Jan 2017 we (studiotac.co.uk) were approached to design and build three art installations for Dreamland. Having recently moved to the town and relocated our business here we were excited to showcase what we did. However, more importantly, we wanted to design something which could be beneficial to the creative community we found ourselves within. The third of these installations was Mural-By-The-Sea. Dreamland had shown us this giant incongruous wall outside Hall By The Sea, loomed over by Arlington House, and we were tasked with beautifying that area of the park.
We devised a plan to design and build a huge billboard with an Art Deco design to add the injection of heritage, so important in Dreamland’s operation. We wanted a billboard that didn’t advertise anything, a space that had been hijacked by art. The inspiration behind what would go in the frame came from the ‘fly in the ointment’ for the influx of (and the existing) creative community. Yes, houses are cheaper here than the cities, therefore making all important studios cheaper as well. However, as an artist you need commissions, exhibitions and patrons. There is only so much artists can and should do ‘for free’ for a community - they need support and funding. The thought that Dreamland could assist to put this into practice and we could bring our curation skills to the table was a good one.
With this in mind we posed an idea to Dreamland: A 12 month long fully funded commission body which would see five artists create five ‘editions’ which would be displayed inside the confines of the billboard. We contacted local art institutions and artist studios and granted Resort and Bon Volks in Margate with a commission each. Anyone affiliated with those institutions could apply to win the funding. For the fourth edition we will work with artist Sean Kerr and Spike Island in Bristol, an artist’s studios with a similar community voice to many of the Margate editions. Lastly, for the fifth edition we will roll out the commission as an open call: anyone from anywhere can enter it.
The first edition of Mural-By-The-Sea was given to Margate Pride, who selected Jacob Love to win the commission. Twelve months previously for Pride 2016, colourful posters with slogans of love on had appeared all over Margate. It was a fitting and perfect next step to see the work realised on a huge scale and to tie it in with Pride 2017 hosting its post-march party at Dreamland in the first few months of Dreamland’s opening. Having such huge positive words on display was a bit magical actually; a sort of coming together of it all. That dreamy sense of achievement topped by others being at the helm - it felt right.
We are currently working with the winner of the second edition, Daniel Webb from Bon Volks Studios. He proposed an artwork which was a 1:1 scale photograph of every piece of plastic he had used for a year. It's shocking, beautiful and powerful in its message. The response has been amazing; not just from press who have picked up on this very ‘now’ issue but from local people too who came out in droves to help him sort, clean, weigh and arrange the bags and bags and bags of plastic waste into a neat photographic composition.
Quite by chance, both these works have really powerful, really current messages. One says it with text and the other with image, but both speak of love. They both demand an open mind but a caring one too, a sort of contemporary song of relatable progression and thought for humans and community. We have three editions to go and I hope that this theme resides. It doesn’t have to of course, it’s all to play for, but so far we are proud of Mural-By-The-Sea.
For more information on the current editions, the future ones and how you can get involved and / or apply yourself please go to www.muralbythesea.co.uk