Over the past year we’ve experimented with using our large street-facing windows for exhibitions. As we’ve not been able to welcome people into our maker space for prolonged periods, it seemed a good, covid-secure way to stay in touch with the world. Throughout March we pushed things a bit further, and following a refit on the windows courtesy of an Arts Council National Lottery grant, we now have a smart gallery space with a professional lighting and hanging system in place. We may have been closed, but we’ve been busy!
We’re delighted that our launch exhibition is getting a lot of attention from passers by on the high street. ‘Pop Up Museum‘ is a collaboration between Robert Flood and Kevin Younger, and their theme ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’ celebrates the history of the working river – the wharfs and boatyards, pubs, theatres and communities of the area on our doorstep, traditionally known as ‘Chatham Intra’.
Pop Up Museum is one of the first commissions to launch for ‘Ebb & Flow‘ – a new festival that Intra Arts are co-producing with Sun Pier House CIC. Throughout April and May more of our arts trail will be appearing along the High Street between Star Hill and Sun Pier, and it all culminates with a festival weekend from Friday 21st – Sunday 23rd May.
Most of the arts trail and activities will take place in or be visible from the street, and they will be delivered in a socially distanced way. We’re excited to be celebrating our neighbourhood’s fascinating past, present and possible futures, and hope you will be able to join us with creative activities, heritage walks, and all the things to see. We’re also keen to talk to anyone who has memories of the area to share.
Some of the history covered by the Pop Up Museum also features in Robert Flood’s heritage walks film, made for Ebb & Flow last year as we began our research of the area with our commissioned artists. There’s a 3 minute trailer version, and a half hour film, full of things that might surprise you about this little known part of the Medway Towns.
Ebb & Flow festival began as a commission funded by Creative Estuary to tie in with Estuary 2021, and we have been fortunate to develop it with further excellent partners, enabling us to widen our community activities and arts trail programme. The Old High Street Intra HSHAZ (Heritage High Street Action Zone – a programme by Historic England, supported by Medway Council) funded the Pop Up Museum, the heritage walks film, and two art commissions. We have also partnered with Countryside Properties and Hyde Foundation, who are supporting engagement with local residents on the project.
The windows gallery refit is part of a wider project to help Intra Arts continue to build resilience and usefulness as an organisation, and to find new ways to work with local communities. We are researching a plan to open a Scrapstore at INTRA, and are looking at different ways to build our sustainability. We’ll have a series of guest-curated shows and related activities later in the year. It’s wonderful to have been able to make some positive changes during the most recent lockdown. The windows are a great asset of our venue and it’s lovely to be able to use them to more of their potential.
This project was made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.