It’s not long now until our big Kindred Guisborough weekend. Following our Art-trail week of independent shops, cafes and bistros opening up their doors to host local artists, tomorrow begins a creatively jam-packed weekend of art, music and spoken word, and I and the tiny band of supportive creatives who make up Kindred Guisborough couldn’t be more thrilled that it’s all come together.
I have something to prove with this event, I suppose – I want people to know about our cultural offer. I’m from Teesside, but lived in Kent for many years. In the South I was aware that our gorgeous moors, beaches and fascinating industrial heritage were well known, but do we have any culture? If you ask any of the many creatives, festival and event organisers, performers, artists, gallery owners and makers I’ve worked with over the years, they’ll shout about our culture to the rooftops, but nothing works better than bringing our creative sector together to show off a bit, and work together as a collective force. That’s what we’re aiming for.
So – the whole thing came about one evening in a Guisborough dining room – but before we go there, I want to briefly take you back a few years to 2013, when I ran Skybluered Studio, a non-profit business.
We sold artwork alongside our tea and cake, ran workshops and I could see how the work on the walls was as important as what was on people’s plates.
Additionally, I became Town Champion for Totally Locally, a shop local scheme to re-energise towns through independents working together. Through the experience of running outdoor markets for Totally Locally I could see how culture in our towns and those in the scheme was one of the real drivers for changing attitudes.
The market became a yearly event, small, but something to look forward to, and suitable to fit around my job now working here at Tees Valley Arts, but I still hankered for the idea of an art trail to go with the market.
Some money became available through the Co-operative – a friend and I sat down and rapidly what was an art trail and market developed on a piece of paper onto a bigger art event with performances and pop-ups, all with the sort of feel that’s particular to our part of the world, and reflecting our more rural locality.
This wasn’t just to be an event to entertain, but to truly bring together our independent shops and our artists and makers, musicians, writers and performers, That opportunity to show off.
And so we’re here – in not very many months, and with incredible support, we present to you:
Kindred Guisborough – a truly community-led art festival.
I am a community artist, maker and social activist, founder of both SkyBlueRed and Totally Locally Guisborough.