One for the Wrens by MA Fine Art student Val Bolsover installed in Drill Hall Library

Val Bolsover. The photos on the installation were with the permission of the Chatham Historic Dockyard Trust.


MA Fine Art student, Val Bolsover, has a new work, One for the Wrens, installed in the silent section of the Drill Hall Library on the Medway Campus. The site specific work is based on the existence of the Wrens in those Medway campus buildings and their lack of a figurehead.  It is the centenary of the WRNS in 2017.

Said Val: The piece came about for many reasons, which were brought together in my mind by being based at the Dockyard. I grew up around boats, and as a teenager in the 1970s, thought it would be great to join the Navy. For girls there were plenty of career options in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. When I discovered that women were not allowed to serve on ships and go to sea I changed my mind – what’s the point in joining a naval service which is always ashore?

The history of our association with the sea, whether naval, merchant, fishing or leisure, has until recent years been dominated by men. Ships and boats are traditionally named after women, and boats referred to as she. Until the late 19th Century naval and merchant ships carried a figurehead, most often a scantily dressed, buxom woman. These carved and painted figures were replaced by badges. Some figureheads lived on as sculptures ashore, where naval premises took the name of a former ship.  

At times of war, women had been called on to assist with the forces to release trained men for war. There has been much publicity about how the physical labour of women in factories, and in agriculture, influenced opinion in the fight for votes for women following the First World War. Less attention has been given to the skilled tasks undertaken temporarily by women in the forces. 

Bringing these thoughts together I wondered what sort of figurehead the wrens of the First World War would have appreciated.  Perhaps a movie star of the time would have been their choice. It was still the era of black and white silent films. I chose Douglas Fairbanks, a contemporary and friend of Charlie Chaplin. He is painted black and white because that is how the wrens would have seen him. Appropriately the sculpture is currently in the silent section of the Drill Hall Library.”


For Drill Hall Library opening hours go to:

For more info on the artist go to:

2016 Young People United Awards and Sankofa Young Black Achievers Awards

Rosette-Amanda Nsubuga receiving her awards from Bashiyra. Photo by Dave Thomas. 


Huge congratulations to second year BA (Hons) Fine Art student, Rosette-Amanda Nsubuga,  who has won the Young People United Awards under the category of Inspirational Young Person, as well as a Sankofa Young Black Achievers Award under the category of Citizenship.

Commented Carol Stewart, Chairperson, Medway African and Caribbean Association, “The nominations this year were of a very high standard.”

Rosette-Amanda said, “I was motivated to participate in the exhibition, as this gave me an opportunity to explore my culture and articulate my perceptions. I feel there should be more opportunities like these within the curriculum for students from minority ethnic groups. I felt a sense of freedom to do this because I knew I wouldn’t be judged”.  A synopsis of her work can be seen by accessing the clips below.

Rosette was nominated by Dave Thomas, Student Success (EDI) Project Officer, for her contribution to the Black History Month Exhibition. Explained Dave, Rosette-Amanda was proactive in promoting diversity through citizenship through her contribution to the University of Kent Black History Month Art Exhibition.  She was part of a group of Fine Art Students from the School of Music and Fine Art who contributed artwork. Rosette demonstrated great volition and commitment by going over and above the initial brief and conducting ethnographic research, which explored student’s perception of the meaning of being black – Melanin Intuition. In addition, Rosette produced two paintings which consider the status of the black community from an adored perspective.

Her work disclosed love and ascension as well as the stigma that comes with having darker skin and takes us on an emotional journey, which explores race – black and blackness – and considers how the influence of the struggles of black leaders brings us to see what victory and freedom feels like.

The body of work aimed to promote cultural competence and a knowledge exchange among the students who study at the Medway Campus and wider University. The work also provoked discussion within the University community. Most importantly, it served to promote a sense of belonging for black and minority ethnic students on the campus. I believe this was a very important contribution to the development of the culture of equality and diversity within the university.  I would also like to mention the other three Fine Art students who contributed to the exhibition (Solomon Dada, Chenille Harris and alumni Daniel Owusu). Although Rosette won the award, I believe this was a victory for the group, school and University as a whole.”

To recognise the winners’ achievements, an award ceremony took place on Saturday 29th October, at Mid Kent College, Gillingham where Rosette was presented with her award by multiple award winning Singer/Songwriter Bashiyra.


For more info go to:
Twitter: @MedwayACA
Facebook: MACA/Charity

Sarah Dacey on BBC Radio 3

Photo by Sarah Dacey.


School of Music and Fine Art Assistant Lecturer in Music Performance and freelance classical singer, Sarah Dacey, is performing live with Juice Vocal Ensemble on Radio 3’s ‘Open Ear’ concert at St. John-at-Hackney, London E5,  on Friday 4th November from 7.30pm.

The programme includes a new song of Sarah’s called ‘Poetree’.

Tickets are free but you have to apply in advance.


More info about Sarah here:

Partnership with City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra


The School of Music and Fine Art is delighted by the opportunities the continuing supportive partnership with the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra (CRSO) offers.

The orchestra has given 5 World Premiere performances of music by student composers from the School of Music and Fine Art, and the CRSO outreach programme includes a Young Composers’ evening which allows young composers from the local area to hear their works played by the orchestra.

University of Kent at Medway music students play in the City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra, which performs two student compositions every year in their concerts.

Lis Sadler, Orchestral Manager, City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra says, Thanks to our link with the University of Kent, our orchestra is developing an ever more vibrant and forward-looking ethos.  Plenty of new ideas in the pipeline, and some great young people to work with – exciting!”

Ruth Herbert, Lecturer in Music Performance in the School of Music and Fine Art added, “The partnership with CRSO just seems to go from strength to strength! Our students really love being part of the CRSO – both playing in it and composing for it. It’s fantastic for their musical development to be involved with such a vibrant organisation”

 The CRSO was formed in 1969 to nurture excellence through music in the community. Under Music Director Peter Bassano, and President, Sir Roger Norrington, the CRSO has approximately 60 playing members, both amateur and professional musicians, who perform concerts at The Central Theatre, Chatham, and other venues in Kent. Recent concerts include a joint performance with Rochester Choral Society in Rochester Cathedral.

The next concert from the CRSO will be Music from the Movies on Saturday 19th November at The Central Theatre Chatham at 7.30pm.

For more details go to

Shona Illingworth interviewed on Radio 4’s All in the Mind

Lesions in the Landscape, 2015. Shona Illingworth, installation view, FACT, Liverpool. Photo by Jon Barraclough.



The School of Music and Fine Art’s Director of Graduate Studies and Reader in Fine Art Shona Illingworth, has been interviewed by presenter Claudia Hammond for BBC Radio 4’s All In The Mind, which will feature Shona’s exhibition Lesions in the Landscape, a powerful multi-screen installation, exploring the impact of amnesia and the erasure of individual and cultural memory.

The programme will be broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday 25th October then repeated at 3.30pm on Wednesday 26th October. You can also listen back online or on BBC iPlayer.

Shona is shortlisted for the prestigious 2016 Film London Jarman Award.

For more on this amazing work, which features in a 2 symposium this weekend and is currently on show at The Gallery in London, see

Joe Stilgoe Music Masterclass on 26 October

Joe Stilgoe


The School of Music and Fine Art is thrilled to offer a workshop/performance/masterclass from the fantastic Joe Stilgoe, a jazz musician, singer, actor and comedian, whose second album, We Look to the Stars, went to number one in Amazon’s jazz chart. His new album, Of New Songs for Old Souls, is described as modern nostalgia, looking back to all the great music that has influenced and inspired him – from the 40s, 50s, and 60s – but then fitting that influence to make a modern sound.

For more information, and for Joe’s UK tour dates, go to:

NOTE: There are 2 sessions: 9am-10.30am and 12 noon – 1.30pm.

FREE to attend but booking required – call 01634888980 or email

Venue: The Galvanising Shop, University of Kent’s School of Music and Fine Art, The Historic Dockyard Chatham, Chatham, ME4 4TE


More info:

Professor Tim Howle special guest at Sound/Image Colloquium exploring sonic and audio-visual practice



Professor Tim Howle, Director of Programmes (Music) and Professor of Contemporary Music in the School of Music and Fine Art,  will be a special guest at the Sound/Image Colloquium: Exploring sonic and audio-visual practice on 12th and 13th November at the University of Greenwich, and will be delivering a keynote paper.

The Sound/Image Colloquium is interested in exploring the relationships between sounds and images, and the images which sounds can construct by themselves.  Through a series of complementary strands – talks, screenings, loudspeaker orchestra concerts – artists and experts will investigate sound and sound-image phenomena.

The annual event, curated by Andrew Hill, is hosted by Creative Professions and Digital Arts.


More details at:

For more information about Professor Howle, go to

Invisible Architectures: Lesions in the Landscape symposium

Lesions in the Landscape, 2015. Shona Illingworth, installation view, FACT, Liverpool. Photo by Jon Barraclough.


 A two day symposium exploring interactions between art and clinical practices, critical thinking and neuroscience takes place on Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th October, 11.30am-6pm, at the Whitechapel Gallery, London E1 7QX.

Invisible Architectures: Lesions in the Landscape, organised by SMFA Director of Graduate Studies and Reader in Fine Art Shona Illingworth, with Jill Bennett, will focus on the idea of embodied experience across diverse individual, social, political, cultural and digital landscapes. The event brings together a range of speakers – from artists and writers to scientists, cultural theorists, historians and social psychologists – and is part of Lesions in the Landscape, a project exploring the impact of amnesia and the erasure of individual and cultural memory, and the wider implications of memory loss on identity, space and imagining the future.

Sessions will focus on case studies deploying creative methods to investigate amnesia; understanding the experience of memory loss; processes and consequences of cultural erasure; haunting in computational culture; aesthetics of control in technological mediation; latency; materiality and consciousness.


For more information go to:

Invisible Architectures: Lesions in the Landscape is supported by the Wellcome Trust and the Sound, Image Space Research Centre, School of Music and Fine Art, University of Kent.

Linked to the symposium is Shona Illingworth’s exhibition which runs until 27 November at The Gallery, Dilston Grove, London SE16 2UA – for opening times go to


New Lunchtime Concert series launches on 25 October



The new SMFA Lunchtime Concert series begins next week, with talented students studying band and ensemble performing a range of musical styles to launch the season at 12 noon on Tuesday 25 October. Taking place in the Galvanising Shop Performance space at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, all the lunchtime concerts are free to attend and usually last for an hour.

You can find out more about all these events online here

There are more lunchtime concerts on 30 November, and 7 and 13 December.

And don’t miss the Music Masterclass with Joe Stilgoe on October 26th!