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More than a hut: Dartford Central Park’s latest addition

10:07 21 September 2012

Ecology of Colour by Benedict Johnson

Ecology of Colour by Benedict Johnson

Archant

Set among the green, natural hues of Dartford’s Central Park stands a bold, multi-coloured timber hut.

Ecology of Colour by Benedict JohnsonEcology of Colour by Benedict Johnson

Named The Ecology of Colour, the two-storey building has been hand-painted in an Aztec print that leaves large geometric-shaped gaps of exposed wood.

The concept may seem an odd choice in such a natural environment.

But it is in harmony with the nature around it – the paints used were natural plant dyes and eventually a garden will be grown around it to nurture the same flowers from which the dye came, to make the circle complete.

The building, on Ecology Island within the park, offers a semi-outdoor area at ground level and an enclosed area on the first floor.

Ecology of Colour with artists John Howard and Nicholette Goff running a workshopEcology of Colour with artists John Howard and Nicholette Goff running a workshop

Opened last week, it is intended as a place for study of the natural environment and for creative activities.

Award-winning art and architecture practice Studio Weave, based in Hackney, conceived plans for the structure and London designers Nous Vous created the patterns.

Over the course of two weeks local residents and artists came together to paint each of the 144 panels.

It will host workshops for people to learn about natural dyes, textiles and other crafts.

The structure is part of a north Kent-wide art project called Artlands. It aims “to explore north Kent’s identity through a series of public realm commissions”.

Since 2010, Artlands has been working as part of the Greening the Gateway Kent and Medway scheme, which does what it says on the tin.

This is all involved in a European scheme called Pure Hubs which tries to reconnect the city and countryside, and encourages people to learn new skills, improve their health and boost the economy of rural areas.

As well as receiving funding for Pure Hubs, Artlands is backed by Arts Council England, Kent County Council, the Home and Communities Agency and, for the Ecology of Colour, Dartford Borough Council.

Curator Fiona Boundy has been at the helm of the project since day one.

She said: “There are some really interesting things going on in north Kent but a lot of it people do not know about. There is a huge potential here and it is a really fascinating place in terms of public commissions. Artlands is about bringing world class artists to North Kent and producing ambitious art.”

This is actually the third Artlands commission in the area.

The first was Sleepers Awake, a huge balloon which illuminated the night sky at Milton Creek near Sittingbourne in September last year.

Then artist Anna Best had a year-long residency at Gravesend’s Cyclopark which involved revamping bikes and whose work there was turned into a computer game.

The hut is the only permanent commission so far and it will be housed in Central Park for at least 10 years.

Fiona said: “We thought this would be a good resource for the local community. For the island we felt it would be really nice to create a permanent structure that will act as a visible legacy.”

Artlands will be announcing a programme of activities through October and November at www.artlandsnorthkent.org.uk and on Dartford council’s website.

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