Summer at the gallery

It’s been a very busy year for the gallery with a number of exhibitions and two festivals – ArtiGras 2015 and 2016, an art fair in September last year, a Mad Hatters Tea Party, an exhibition to celebrate the music of The Beatles, and South East Open Studios for the first time, and much much more since we opened in May last year. We have decided to have a quite summer so that we can all recuperate and work on the amazing events coming up in the Autumn.

Since opening, we’ve had over 80 artists exhibiting art and photography; 100 or so volunteers working on a number of projects: have shown 8 independent films which have led to meeting wonderful, talented directors who’ve  joined us at the gallery and spoken about heir work; we’ve made many new friends in the community; have worked with talented musicians who have performed at our festivals; have collaborated with a number of local schools as well as Ashford college and been part of the success stories of some of our exhibitors.

We have also become part of a tight knit community of independent traders who have now joined us in Park Mall, namely Happy & Glorious, GlamRUs, Made in Ashford, Emporia Fabrics and Crafts, and very recently Snap Jewellery. We are very proud of the success of our projects and truly grateful for the dedication of our volunteers who are mainly young people; they’ve shown so much dedication, passion for their community and talent. We want to thanks them for being part of The Creative Collective family.

All of our marketing materials, posters, flyers, music stages, props, decorations, event and special photography are designed and produced by very talented creative young people so think about us if you’re starting a business or need materials for an event or project. We do offer value marketing and branding solutions to the community to help and promote the work and value of self employed creatives connected to the gallery. Here are some examples:

To make the summer a little more exciting, We are offering children’s Arty Sessions from 10am to 12am very Monday and Wednesday in August.  These are for children 8 years and over to produce projects over two days so they would need to attend the Monday and Wednesday of a week of your choice.  We also offer Saturday children’s art drop in sessions from 11am to 1pm, for children 10 years and older.

We have lots of exciting projects coming up from September so do subscribe to our newsletter if you’d like to know what is happening.

For now, a massive thanks to all of our volunteers, guests, followers, supporters and the very talented musicans and artists we work with. We wouldn’t still be here without all of you. We are now off to Ashford Festival in the Park to support a great cause and enjoy more local talent.  Have a lovely weekend all.  The Team

Festival goes out with a bang …


The ArtiGras festival brought two days of magic, music and fun to Park Mall.  Visitors flocked in to see local bands and performers and shop from a number of local makers and artists.

The festival was officially opened by the Phoenix Primary and Herne Bay Primary Schools Samba Band led by Matt Miles.

Local musicians included Harry Hayes, Orfila, Bottles, Black Roses, Invicta Jazz Orchestra, Jim McDonald, Nathan J Walker, Rude Albert and of course Ashford Folk.  There were amazing performances by the children and young people of TheatreTrain Ashford, Live2Dance and LCA Dance Academy, and The ArkWrights Appalachian cloggers.

Students from Ashford College and The North School made sculptures and art for the festival which was displayed at The Creative Collective and in Park Mall.  One dragon made by Jay Amin of Wood N Ware watched over the proceedings.

The music stage backdrop was designed by volunteer and architecture student Milan Limbu and decorated and painted by a group of volunteers in the gallery.

Nathan J Walker on the Bandstand.

The Arkwrights performing the clog dancing we all love so much with guest James Dawkins on his double bass.

Black Roses performing in Park Mall Shopping Centre

A community canvas outside the gallery gave everyone the opportunity to contribute and paint the canvas which is now displayed at The Creative Collective.

The final band of the festival, Rude Albert entertained us until closing time.

The Mayor and Mayoress of Ashford Cllr. George Koowaree & Mrs. Gloria Champion dropped in unexpectly which was a wonderful surprise as the newly elected officials saw first hand the talent of local musicians and performers and spend time meeting stall holders, shop owners and visitors.

The festival ended with a Pinata, made by local young artist Emily Lomax, AKA ‘Weaselspit’ who works with Ashford Young Artists at The Creative Collective.

Our very own Thomas Sharrock spent most of his time going around with the bucket and raise over £150.

Our main sponsors The Auction House Bar raised money for future events selling beers and refreshments in a Bar Tent.

It was a wonderful event and everyone looked happy.  We would like to say a big thank you to everyone who contributed to the success of our festival and hope that more local bands, groups and performers will participate next year.

All photographs are by our young photography students Louise Hardy and Priyash Gurung and we are grateful to them for spending the whole day snapping photos.  Some photos were also taken by Jim Ashby.

The festival was made possible by funding from KCC members Councillors Derek Smyth, Jim Wedgbury and Mike Angell and we are grateful for their generosity.

The theme for next year is ‘One Big Circus’. If you would like to get involved, please call us on 01233 421589 or email us

The Future of Creativity

Recently, the Guardian published an article about arts centres and their role in social care.  The article said: “Arts centres are not only havens for artists developing work, they also deliver cost-effective social impact and creative education”.  This was not a revelation for arts organisations such as the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise here in Ashford.  In fact, we see the impact that arts and crafts are having on people’s lives every day and receive many letters from past users to tell us of how their lives have been changed for the better.

We don’t do the work we do for the gratitude but we feel appreciated and know that the arts, and creativity in general, have a positive effect on mental well being and health.  Occupational therapists recommend it to all of their service users, and so do mental health teams and counseling services purely because creativity brings people together and out of isolation, builds confidence and resilience, and communities who understand each other and have empathy for each other. Continue reading

Business networks help local business growth



Betsy working late

Me working late on a Saturday

Sitting here late at night, doing work and updating social media content, I see from my chat tab, and the many posts coming through, that my fellow self employed are working late too.  Whether it is a wise thing to do or not – and some time management gurus may suggest it’s not – more and more of my fellow creatives, makers and home run business are up all hours of the day in the spirit of driving our businesses forward.

OK so we’re starting our own revolution and it is all about making local and handmade what people buy into in our towns, or at least some people anyway.  What I’m witnessing is that it’s working, however slow and painful it may be. And what’s even more amazing is that we’ve all become each others’ helpers and marketeers … and, by definition, support networks. Continue reading

Celebrating Creative Ashford

ArtiGras @Centre for Creativity and EnterpriseBefore organising a festival, I never thought about the work that goes into it.  Last year’s Ashford Festival of Arts and Technology was an eye opener. For those who have never organised one, let me tell you that it is work that requires military precision and nerves of steel.  But we learnt a lot and I’m really glad we chose to do it.  The festival was a first, and despite not having done much promotion because of lack of enough organisers, funding and time, we managed to attract hundreds of visitors and have lots and lots of fun in the process.

So we decided to do more of them this year and the first one coming your way is ArtiGras which will take place on the 16th and 17th May in Ashford High Street.  Because we love Ashford and think it deserves the baddest festival ever, we’re throwing the biggest and best one ever yet.  But we can’t do this without you of course, residents of Ashford, community organisations, businesses and supporters.  There are already 20 or so stalls booked, amazing bands and performers on board, and lots of guys and gals making lots of amazing things to brighten the street. Continue reading

Hidden arty gem in the heart of town

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

In the centre of Ashford, Kent, there is a quaint gallery that houses amazing pieces of art by local artists.

Although it is a little hard to find – placed in the alley way between Mecca Bingo and the Spar -, it is one of two galleries in Ashford and houses over a hundred pieces of art, a number of sculptures, glass and wood carvings.  But it isn’t just a gallery.  The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise – a social enterprise – is also a craft shop which sells items such as dolls, handbags, jewellery, cushions and all sort of lovely crafts by either local makers or produced at the Centre.  It is a business hub and offers help to individuals who are planning to start their own business or are already operating a business.  On offer are workshops, courses and a room to let, advice, networking opportunities and a whole host of services to the community, be it business, creative or anyone needing a helping hand. Continue reading

A campaign for local produce

sun bees logo A4 land links

One of Joining Hands’ schemes is a community growing project based in Ditton.  The project was developed by a young apprentice of ours, Louise Rowe-Leete, in 2011 when she was successful in securing a plot of land on the East Malling Trust patch.

For the first year or so, Louise and I spent many hours planting and growing vegetables on a small part of the land because we were fighting against weed and the sheer size of the land between the two of us and a number of wonderful volunteers – namely the fabulous Julia who also involved her whole family, young people, businesses and even a group of scouts. Much of what we grew was shared, donated and sold through connections and networks. And everyone who tasted any of the vegetables we grew was amazed at the quality and taste. Well, Louise had to leave us to go to university shortly after and, for the lack of time and enough help, I had to admit defeat and pass the work over to our new Co-ordinator, Laurence Snook. Continue reading