In summer 2019, artist Esther Collins led a series of hands-on, creative workshops under the title of Joinery. The workshops explored designing and making, with guest artists Lydia Brockless and Dylan Shipton, and tested out ideas for a new community building in Milton Creek Country Park, Sittingbourne.
Joinery workshops were held in Sittingbourne’s Eco Shed, a woodwork group that works alongside people with learning difficulties/disabilities and/or autism, and at No. 34, in partnership with Ideas Test.
The final event was held at Holy Trinity Community Open Day, Milton Creek, where local people explored co-design processes and contributed ideas towards the new building; what it might look like and how it might be used. Over the afternoon, a playful, temporary barn structure was co-created with artist Dylan Shipton.
Joinery is part of a longer-term project, exploring grassroots methods of designing and making new buildings, with the aim of creating a permanent ‘barn’ in Milton Creek Country Park to be owned and run by local residents.
The project is managed by Cement Fields and Ideas Test, working in partnership with Milton Creek Country Park and Swale Borough Council.
The project has been devised through conversation and collaborative design activities with Sittingbourne residents and is drawn from longer-term research led by artist Kieren Reed into barn-raisings. A barn-raising is a traditional way for people to come together to make a wooden structure that wouldn’t be possible for one family to build. Neighbours work together to cut and join timbers, before lifting the frame into position using ropes and poles.
This joint effort allows a building to be constructed quickly, on a scale that is only possible with teamwork. This communal activity creates good connections between members of the community who may not normally meet in day-to-day life.
Esther Collins is interested in situations that encourage people to share information and stories. Recent shows include Opens at CGP Gallery, London; and Limbo, Margate. She is also Programme Manager: Elders and Community, at Cubitt.
Kieren Reed has a multifaceted practice, encompassing research, sculpture, performance and installation, fundamentally addressing a personal engagement with the construction process. Recent works include a public art commission for Focal Point, Southend. He is also Head of the Slade School of Fine Art.
Dylan Shipton’s multi-faceted practice includes one-off interventions into space using coloured tape to explore where the artwork ends and space begins; and making architectural models, intricate and intuitively constructed from recycled wood, Formica, laminates, glue, tape and screws, to explore ideas around the hermetic and self-sufficiency of the ‘art-object’.
If you live or work in Sittingbourne and would like to get involved with co-designing and building your community barn, please get in touch.