Esther Collins, Stuff Happens Here, 2017. Image © Matthew de Pulford

Esther Collins
Stuff Happens Here

Monday 1 August 2016

Whitstable Biennale is working with artist Esther Collins to create a new project Stuff Happens Here which aims to support artists aged 18 to 24 years on the Isle of Sheppey. Participants will meet and collaborate with artists, designers and filmmakers to develop practical skills and creativity, learn about organising events, expand their artistic knowledge, and to work with Whitstable Biennale.

Artists taking part in the programme include Hannah Lees, Sam Curtis, Work-formJo Waterhouse, Andrew Kotting and Dylan Shipton.

Esther Collins is an artist interested in curating situations that encourage people to share information and stories, finding out what they have in common. She produced Resort, a printed guide to Thanet, through gathering opinions and anecdotes from local people in Margate, Ramsgate and Broadstairs. She also recruited a team of KLAT artists to interview local residents in Hackney from a cardboard covered mobile hut, offering a cup of tea and cake in exchange for their conversation.

If you are based on Sheppey, aged 18 to 24 years, and interested in taking part, please email

Esther Collins, Stuff Happens Here, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.
Esther Collins, Stuff Happens Here, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist. All rights reserved.

7 June 2016
Nearby faraway

A day of looking at art, film and performance across the water in Whitstable. For young adults aged 18 to 24 living on the Isle of Sheppey.

The group took a free coach trip to and from Whitstable Biennale, with a guided tour of the local and international art festival, taking-in films, performances, installations and other projects on display in locations around the town.

They then met the festival organisers and artists, and spoke about how the 2016 Whitstable Biennale was put together; why it looks as it looks and does what it does.

The day finished with fish and chips.

2 August 2016, 17:00-20:00
Session #1
Blue town Heritage Centre

Introduction with Esther Collins.

The group was introduced to the work of the Whitstable Biennale and watched Mikhail Karikis’ Ain’t got no fear, before working with print to make postcards reflecting their thoughts about life on Sheppey.
Esther brought some cheese to share with the group.

6 September 2016, 17:00-20:00
Session #2 – with Hannah Lees
Sheppey Little Theatre

Some rubbings from the session with Hannah Lees. Image © Esther Collins, 2016

Hannah Lees is an artist who makes installations, sculptures and events. She makes work about the past and the present, mixing ancient crafts and present-day culture. She uses plants and vegetables to dye cloths, makes plaster ‘tablets’ encasing natural and found objects, makes bread, sources wine and invites you to sit down, eat and drink as a ritual.

The group met in this unique and quirky theatre venue to look at some of Hannah’s sculpture, drawing and natural dying work on a big screen. They then ventured out and about in Sheerness to search for some old- fashioned (carved into wood) graffiti to take rubbings to the return to the theatre and work on together.

4 October 2016, 17:00-20:00
Session #3 – with Sam Curtis
Sheppey Little Theatre

Sam Curtis leads the group in a squid-printing session. Image © Esther Collins, 2016

Sam Curtis is an artist and fishmonger whose work explores creativity, where we might expect to find it and how we value different forms of labour. For over 10 years, he has used his day jobs as platforms or starting points from which to develop practice and projects. Informed by two years working as a fishmonger in Harrods, he now runs the Centre for Innovative and Radical Fishmongery, an organisation that explores how fishmongery intersects with art, individuals and society.

The group joined Sam to explore his unique way of working and will make prints using squid ink and fish scales.

November 1 2016, 17:00-2:00
Session #4 – with work-form
Sheppey Little Theatre

Sheerness Sans © work-form and Stuff Happens Here, 2017

work-form is a London-based graphic design studio run by Charlie Abbott, Jake Hopwood & Alex Hough. Established in 2013, they design books, websites and identities for artists, musicians, cultural organisations and small companies. They lead the 1st Year of the BA Graphic Design course at Camberwell College of Arts, as well as running projects and workshops across a range of universities and courses. A selection of their teaching projects are featured in the publication Taking a Line for a Walk: Assignments in Design Education published by Spector Books in Autumn 2016.

Charlie and Alex joined us as we collected objects from the streets and parks in Sheerness and used them to make mono prints of letter forms. By the end of the session, the group had made all 26 letters of the alphabet, collected as a new typeface for Stuff Happens Here: Sheppey Sans.

6 December 2016, 17:00-20:00
Session #5  – with Jo Waterhouse, illustrator and antique dealer
Rose Street Cottage Museum, Sheerness

Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2016

Jo Waterhouse is an illustrator, printmaker and antique dealer.

She spoke with the group about balancing her creative work with antique dealing – and how each can complement the other. The group the worked with her to explore methods for creating powerful free-standing displays using cheap card and a limited colour palette.

17 January 2017, 17:00-20:00
Session #6  – with Andrew Kötting
Healthy Living Centre, Sheerness

Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2017

Andrew Kötting is an artist whose work moves from live-art inflected, absurdist performance pieces, through to experimental short films, installations, LPs, CDs, paintings, drawings and books. He has also made feature films and documentaries that take landscape and journeys as their inspiration or starting point. Autobiography, psychogeography and melancholy are the motors that drive the work.

Andrew made a special selection of his own films and some of his favourites by other filmmakers on the theme of ‘Fairground’. The group talked about film, filmmaking and curating film and begin to plan an event to take place later in the year in Tate Modern.

1 January 2017
Trip to Tate Modern

Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2017

The group travelled by minibus to visit Tate Exchange in the Switch House extension at Tate Modern. Wile there we took the media networks tour, enjoying Babel by Cildo Meireles; explored Séance de Shadow II (bleu) by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster; and took inspiration from City and Islington College’s Paper Garment workshops.

Sessions #7-9 – with Esther Collins & Matthew de Pulford
Healthy Living Centre, Sheerness

Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2017

In session #7, Esther and Matthew (who is programme curator for Whitstable Biennale) introduced the group to the British Film Institute’s Britain Online archive. Over the next two sessions, the group researched and made their own selections of work from the archive to be included in Put your face in the hole, their project for Tate Exchange.

21 March 2017, 17:00-20:00
Session #10  – with Dylan Shipton
Healthy Living Centre, Sheerness

Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2017

Dylan Shipton was born in Wales in 1976. He studied Fine Art at Bristol UWE and did his Masters at Chelsea School of Art 2001. Shipton has exhibited widely in the UK and internationally, with both individual and collaborative projects. Exhibitions  include Punishment Park at Limbo, Margate, Monument to the Excluded Middle in collaboration with artist Ben Fitton, for House 2013 in Brighton and Palomar at Bloc Projects in Sheffield. He currently lives and works in London.

The group had looked at some of Dylan’s works in an earlier session as an example of how artworks can create or provide a space for viewing architecture, people, scenery and other artworks. We invited him in to assist with the design and construction of the walls for the Put your face in the hole project.

14 April 2017, 12:00 -17:00
Put your face in the hole
Tate Exchange, Level 5, Switch House, Tate Modern 

Stuff Happens Here, Put Your Face in the Hole, Tate Exchange. Image: Matthew de Pulford, 2017

Put your face in the hole is the name of Stuff Happens Here’s stall for Fairground at Tate Exchange. It takes as inspiration the photo-opportunity amusement in which fairground visitors can poke their face through a screen to temporarily adopt a new body or be placed in another landscape.

The stall is made-up of a set of structures the group built with artist Dylan Shipton, which emphasise what you see when you put your face through the hole, as much as how you look. Through specially designed ‘viewing holes’, visitors will be invited to watch short films selected by the group from the British Film Institute’s Britain Online archive to reflect their interests as they have developed over the project. Visitors are invited to drop in to see us at any point on Friday 14 April.

With thanks to Lux, Guy Sherwin, Peter Gidal, Screen Archive South East and Mr Mantle.

26 August 2017, 16:00 – 20:00
Sad Cat Melts Secrets
Holy Trinity Church Hall, Sheerness

Octopus printing. Image: Augustinas Kmielius, 2017

A final (for now) event presented the work of the group members Shannon Cole, Augustinas Kmielius, Danielle Maddison and Liam Todd and shows work made together during this year-long project as well as showcasing their individual creative practices, including fashion, photography, print, painting and performance.

Sad Cat Melts Secrets takes themes and ideas which the group came-up with together whilst planning the event at Tate Exchange in April.

A key theme from that time is layering – how the addition of a new layer can sometimes reveal something about what is underneath. The group was also interested in playing with the awkward feeling of making artwork whilst already being ‘on show’ and open to the public.

The event presented past work mixed-up with things made last week, new versions of old ideas, one thing on top of another, Jack’s work on Jill’s, Augustinus wearing Liam’s clothes and presenting sketches with no certainty that the event is ‘ready’.

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