Arlington Shopfront Mural

Update: December 2020

The Margate NOW x People Dem Collective mural on the Arlington House Shopfronts is a key legacy project for the 2020 festival – so we thought you might like an update on its progress.

Back in September, the project started with an open call for illustrations relating to ‘Black British History – Past & Present Icons’. We had a great response, and commissioned 10 artists. The fantastic local artist, Jade Sprankenstein, then created an exciting zine resource featuring the drawings and further information about the icons and the project. This was shared with young people in Thanet, inviting them to respond and create artwork. 

Margate Festival and People Dem Collective recognised the importance of offering young people an accessible tool that would not only engage but would empower them when navigating the current climate when discussing Black British History. The zine acts as a stepping stone for schools as they begin to think about Black British History and the devices that can be used to teach it. The zine will be shared with more groups in the New Year.

Ramsgate Arts Primary School was the first to have their young artists contribute. Speaking to The Isle of Thanet News, art teacher Karen Vost said: “It has been an inspirational project and well-received by the children. They have a strong sense of fairness and have responded thoughtfully to what they have learned about oppression experienced by the black community. They have enjoyed reflecting on different black icons and I feel the project has inspired the children to discuss racism.

Head of School Nick Budge said: “We believe that providing young people with the knowledge -at an age-appropriate level- to develop an understanding of racism and inequality is fundamental to breaking down the systems that have led to the unjust oppression of BAME people and communities. The project at Arlington House and the wider overall arts-driven initiative is crucially important. We hope that the project will be revisited for the next three years and that the black people children draw will become more varied as they learn about different icons and people of importance throughout black British history.

In collaboration with People Dem Collective, artist Ben Connors then began designing the mural, highlighting the inspired drawings contributed. Painting started in October, with two paid interns collaborating and working alongside Ben on the huge evolving project. 

Unfortunately due to government guidelines, we made the decision to put the work on hold until we could ensure the safety of our artists, team and the public. As we then came into the short, dark days and unpredictable weather of the winter months, along with our move into Tier 3 after the second lockdown, we have decided to postpone any further work on the mural until March 2021. 

You can view the zine below and we’d love to have your contributions to the project. Please send us your drawings to [email protected] with the Subject Line ‘Black British History – Past & Present Icons’.

This project is supported by Kent County Council and KCC member Barry Lewis. Margate NOW 2020 is a multi-disciplinary arts festival guest curated by People Dem Collective, made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, Kent County Council, Thanet District Council and South East Creatives.

You can download the zine here.

Read about the project in The Isle of Thanet News here.