Raising the Sittingbourne Barn will create a functional artwork in Milton Creek Country Park, Sittingbourne. The country park is 128 acres of former landfill site – now a green space home to meadow, scrub and aquatic habitats and a rich haven for wildlife including the now rare shrill carder bumblebee.
Within a traditional social framework a ‘barn raising’ was a moment where an entire community came together, pooling skills and expertise. Communal builds have long taken place across the world. We know them in the west mostly from barn raisings in rural 18th century America, but it was a widespread practice, for example in Finland (talkoot); Kenya/Uganda (harambee); Indonesia/Malaysia (gotongroyong); The Philippines (bayanihan); Ireland (meitheal); Norway (dugnad); and Turkey (imece).
Younger members of the community would work alongside those who were more experienced, being trained in the skills needed for future builds. Other community members would prepare food for everyone to share at the end of each day as part of the exchange of work and time.
Artist Kieren Reed is collaborating with people from Sittingbourne and further afield to explore potential designs and uses for the new structure that will be sited at Milton Creek Country Park. During 2018/2019 participants will be trained in collaborative building, tool use, carpentry and construction processes.
The raising itself will be an act of theatre for participants and spectators, with the dramatic lifting of the largest sections of timber from the ground and the performance of other traditional construction rituals, including ‘topping out’ and a feast onsite at the end of each working day.