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The River Project - an interactive art exhibition that has taken over Sun Pier House in Chatham

By Matt Whale

Sun Pier in Chatham has been taken over this month by the artists of The River Project.

Artists and exhibition curators Nikki Gardham, Alison Boult, Rebecca Harper, Kathryn Maple, Elizabeth McCarten and Katie Brookes, who is based in Rochester, are running free creative workshops with over 200 of Medway school pupils.

The interactive exhibition opened on January 6 and runs until Sunday, January 28 and gives the people of Medway the chance to contribute to a collaborative project with each other and the project’s artists.

River Project artists Elizabeth McCarten, Alison Boult, Kathryn Maple, Rebecca Harper, Katie Brookes and Nikki Gardham.
River Project artists Elizabeth McCarten, Alison Boult, Kathryn Maple, Rebecca Harper, Katie Brookes and Nikki Gardham.

Co-curator Nikki Gardham says: “The River is an exploration of nature, history and the meaning of the Medway to the community of Chatham.

“Like the Medway River, the exhibition begins with a spring of energy, with our initial paintings, made on site, becoming the starting point for a large-scale collaged mural inspired by the river – and created with members of the public.”

Free creative workshops will be held for the next two weekends which will be open to the whole community.

The project has received sponsorship for art materials from paper distributors John Purcell and Fedrigoni UK, as well as art suppliers Cass Art and Great Art.

The River Project

Tuesday January 11 was the first of six workshops the project offers.

Click to view

Luton Junior School creative workshop

The first two days of the project saw the six artists paper the walls of the gallery to begin their painted mural, which will become a backdrop for the project’s workshops.

Nikki continued: “We wanted to share the excitement and passion that we have for drawing and painting and particularly when working together as a group on an ambitious artwork. It is a wonderfully liberating and exhilarating experience, a bit like improvising music or a performance. We have curated this exhibition so that everyone can join in on that experience.”

The River project was joined by 27 pupils from Luton Junior School on January 9, the first of six schools set to take part in the project’s workshops.

The students used charcoal and coloured chalks to create a landscape to add to the project, creating drawings of real fish from observation as well as bridges, creeks and tributaries.

The pupils were thrilled to work closely with nature and art, and one student even said: “this is the best school trip I have ever been on”.

To find out more about The River Project and the events you can get to this week, visit their Facebook event page or head down to the community drop-in day this Saturday from 11am-3pm.

Email theriver.workshop@gmail.com for more information.

You can also donate on their fundraising page here.

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