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Chatham festival revives forgotten highstreet

Behind a small, unassuming building in Chatham is a huge project designed to give people of all ages and abilities the space to create art.

Wendy Daws is co-founder of the Mess Room and has 16 years under her belt as a volunteer for the Kent Association for the Blind.

Since creating the studio in 2017 with Christopher Sacre, who suffers from hearing loss, they have been working with marginalised groups, especially the visually blind.

“Just because your sight isn’t as good as it used to be, doesn’t mean you can’t make art. If you’ve got the passion for it, it’s going to come out in you,” said Wendy.

They have been commissioned by the upcoming Ebb and Flow Festival, which celebrates the rich history of Chatham, to revive the forgotten highstreet.

Wendy and Christopher spent around three weeks crafting six banners that are six meters long and feature the silhouettes of 109 people from local areas.

Earlier this year the Mess Room had an exhibition called Out of Sight Not Out of Mind, which displayed the artwork created by people with visual impairment during the second lockdown.

“People wanted to have contact, wanted to have conversation, and having the art materials at home was a different way to make the art. I think it showed just how important it is to all of us, because it is the art that’s brought us together as a group, and people need people.

“I can’t imagine not being able to make art, think about art, be around with other people who are making art, be creative. I like getting lost in the process, to me it actually doesn’t matter what it looks like in the end,” said Wendy.


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