Terry Hunt opening talk Kent St GeorgesMeanings and Messages, the major touring exhibition celebrating our 25th anniversary year, opened its doors at our first venue, St George’s Arts Centre in Gravesend, Kent, on the 30th April.

Image: ACJ Chair Terry Hunt, giving the opening talk and tour of the exhibition with strung labels written by visitors in the foreground

The venue is a brand-new exhibition and arts space in the heart of the town centre, run by Gravesend borough council, with the aim of bringing creative experiences to the local community, including contemporary craft. Along with St George’s, we have been working in partnership with LV21, a historic, 40 metre steel-hulled lightship transformed into a floating art space and performance facility.

The open day was well attended, by ACJ members, craft professionals and enthusiasts alike, as well as a few members of the public that were drawn towards the celebratory atmosphere. It was lovely to see so many friends and colleagues meeting up after being apart for so long, enjoying each other’s company, talking about the work, and catching up on news.

Our chair, Terry Hunt, gave an insightful guided tour of the exhibition, selecting many individual brooches to talk about, as well as discussing the curation and the six themed areas of the show.

Kent Opening St Georges Sensory objects 72dpiThe interactive elements of the exhibition were enjoyed by visitors of all ages - the sensory objects invited people to pick up and feel some of the materials used in the exhibition. They will be used in a series of workshops with The Kent Association for the Blind, as well as being a nice way for all our visitors to experience the work in a more tactile way!

Visitors were encouraged to use strung labels to write down their own interpretation of the meanings and messages behind some of the brooches, creating their own stories and narratives around the work - with the option of looking inside the catalogue to see what the artists’ intentions were. All the labels will be tied onto a suspended line, creating a community art installation.

Image left: ACJ directors Lynne Bartlett and Melanie Eddy at the opening, standing in front of a wall of sensory objects. 

And lastly there were three colouring and design sheets for our younger visitors to engage more closely with the work and themes of the show, with the opportunity for older ones to create their own designs.

Colour and design sheets Young Visitors Kent opening St GeorgesKoala Colour and design sheets Young Visitors Kent opening St Georges  

Images: Young visitors enjoying the colouring and design sheets

The digital presentation of the 60 brooches and makers in their studio runs on a loop in the gallery space and visitors enjoyed seeing some of the faces and creative spaces of our members, as well as seeing the beautiful images Simon B Armitt has taken.

LV21 Kent open day art on the railings residency venueAfter the gallery opening, guests were invited to walk through the historic part of the town towards the riverfront, where the iconic LV21 ship is moored. Päivi Seppälä the director of the floating arts space, along with other “shipmates” welcomed us aboard for a tour and to spend time at our own pace looking at the unique arts space, chatting to old friends and making new connections. We also visited the St Andrew’s arts space next to the ship, hugging the waterfront.

Both venues “Ship and Shore” will be the home for Jane Sedgwick’s residency across the month of May, as she works with the local community and draws on the heritage of the ship and surrounding area to create new works. You’ll be able to see how the journey unfolds on Jane’s Instagram account @janesedgwickjewellery.

In addition to the residency, we are also working with a number of ACJ members to deliver workshops and events across the duration of the exhibition and beyond. Rebecca Ilett and Jennifer Kidd will be delivering a masterclass at the Gravesend Adult Education Centre, and Yuka Jourdain, Margo Misiak-Orlovic and Jo McAllister will all be developing workshops later in the year, leaving a lasting legacy and further opportunities for the maker-educators in our community. We will be sharing details of the workshops and events as plans progress.

Congratulations to all our members who were selected for our 25th anniversary touring exhibition, the show would not be the success it is without your beautiful and thought-provoking artworks - and thanks to so many of you that gifted work towards the sensory objects display.

Allison Macleod / Anna Borcsok / Anne Earls Boylan / Anne Morgan / Anne Walker / Anthony Wong / Asimi - Anna Butcher / Caiyang Yin / Caroline Finlay / Catherine Hartley / Catherine Marche / Chien Yu Liu / Christine Johnson / Claire Finlay / Claire Underwood / Dauvit Alexander / Deborah Beck / Drew Markou / Elird / Elizabeth Shaw / Emily Kidson / Emma McGilchrist / Hendrike Barz-Meltzer / Islay Spalding / Jane Moore / Jane Sedgwick / Janine Partington / Jessica Briggs / Jo McAllister / Joanne Haywood / Joel Matthew Smyth / Kate Bajic / Kim Nogueira / Kristy Lewis / Liana Pattihis / Linda Connelly / Lorraine Hitt - Elsiem Jewellery / Lynne Speake / Mandy Nash / Mark Mcleish / Michelle Fernandez / Nina Mannerkoski / Paul Wells / Penelope Burnett / Rachael Colley / Rachel Hearne / Rebecca Ilett / Rebecca Wilson / Sarah Jane Wilmott / Sishi Wang / Sophie Lowe / Sophie Martin-Glinel / Stephanie Johnson / Terry Hunt / Tina MacLeod / Tina Sanderson / Toby Cotterill / Vanessa Sharp / Viktoria Münzker / Yuka Jourdain

The next stop for the touring exhibition will be a pop-up iteration at our Beyond Silver Conference, in July.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to travel down to Gravesend and celebrate the opening. Thanks also to: the ACJ team, everyone at St George’s and LV21, our selection panel, education sponsor The Crafts Council, photographer Simon B Armitt and our artwork designer Ian Scaife.


Images from the exhibition. Pieces are displayed grouped into six themed areas.

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