Over the last 10 years there has been a push from groups of local artists to create a stronger identity for the town. Most towns have some kind of established art community. Tonbridge didn’t seem to have one.
We are lucky because our town centre is easy to walk along and to ‘link up’ art events, from The Old Big School Gallery, Artspring Gallery to the new Pop Up in Angel Walk. ‘4 Art’, a contemporary art group of friends exhibits at the Castle along with other local groups.
It became clear to me that a two week presence with South East Open Studios was great, but what about the other 50 weeks?
To begin with, a group of local artists got together to hold 3 exhibitions at the Tunnel Gallery at Tonbridge School. Although a beautiful space it was quite hard for the public to find. The first exhibition was successful, the third less so.
And then we spied a small empty shop in north Tonbridge and after much struggling Tonbridge Art Collective was born and the Artspring Gallery was opened. It’s now in its second successful year.
The proposed Tonbridge Art Fair happened as a result of my enquiry to TMBC in October 2017 as to whether the newly refurbished River Walk in Tonbridge could be used for an art fair at some point. I was surprised to hear that an application form was on its way to me. Here was I thinking it may be some time in the future…..
And so here we are….An exciting new event for the town as part of Tonbridge Arts Festival. It’s a trial run to see how it goes. West Kent College, the local art group and secondary schools will be invited to take part. It’s an opportunity for artists both local and further away to join in and show local people and visitors their work, to network and share a whole new happening!
And next…we could do with an arts centre…..for all of us!