Audience with an Ash: Artist Talk by Ackroyd and Harvey on 6th December

Ackroyd and Harveys History Trees at Olympic Park, which features an Ash.


The School of Music and Fine Art Visiting is delighted that Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey will be delivering the Visiting Artist Talk on Tuesday December 6th in the Royal Dockyard Church at 6.15pm.  The talk is free to attend.

The artists will be talking especially about their role in the development of the Ash Project which has been conceived by Kent Downs Area of Outstanding National Beauty, which has been awarded Heritage Lottery and Arts Council funds to help record and raise awareness of ash tree die back.

For 25 years, Ackroyd & Harvey’s work has been exhibited in contemporary art galleries, museums and public spaces worldwide; sculpture, photography, architecture, ecology and biology are disciplines that intersect in their work, revealing an intrinsic bias towards process and event. Often reflecting environmental and scientific concerns, they are acclaimed for large-scale interventions in sites of architectural interest.

The Ash Project is an urgent cultural response to the devastating effects of Ash dieback, and combines a major new commission by Ackroyd and Harvey which will continue their environmental investigations and will result in a large scale public artwork supported by cultural institutions in Kent and in landscape partnerships across the country.

Processes of growth and decay are integral to our time-based art practice. In the last ten years, living trees have featured significantly in our artwork, from oak trees germinated from acorns collected from Joseph Beuys’s “7000 Oaks” artwork, to a series of ten large trees holding huge engraved rings at the major entrances to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

 When working with plant material we catalyze the growth process by germinating seeds. The Ash presents a distinct challenge given the pervasiveness of the fungal infection affecting millions of ash trees across the country. Landscapes, parks and gardens will be irrevocably changed as landmark canopy trees and copses of ash disappear.

 Our research has revealed a hidden wealth of industries carved from the ash, a myriad of wooden objects and artefacts that occupy historical significance and domestic use. Mythologies address the Ash as the tree at the centre of the world, the ‘cosmic’ tree. Contemporary science is studying genetic traits to understand how to cultivate disease resistant Ash stock. David Nash’s “Ash Dome” is an international recognized artwork. The emotional, social and metaphorical relationship with this tree gives deep-rooted material for our artistic exploration.” Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey, November 2016

The commission is complimented by a two year programme of public engagement to include artists’ walks, green wood working, an evolving Ash Archive, public programmes at University of Kent and Folkestone Triennial. These events will involve communities in actively documenting the contemporary and historic importance of the Ash in collaboration with the research and scientific community of the Kent Downs and artists and educators Outdoor Studios, who work with school students to create extraordinary experiences in the outdoors.


For more info go to  and

School of Music and Fine Art alumni and students take key roles at Alexandra Palace parade

Day of the Dead Parade, 2016. Photo by Elise Berdah.


Two School of Music and Fine Art graduates from the BA (Hons) Event & Experience Design (formerly Creative Design & Production), played key roles the production of Day of the Dead Parade at carnival of the macabre, Dia Del Los Muertos as part of the Alexandra Palace Fire Show on 4th & 5th November.

Musician/Creative Producer/Performance Artist Kerri Layton directed the Day of the Dead Parade and Holly Greenhall was the production manager.

Day of the Dead Parade, 2016. Photo by Elise Berdah.


Another graduate, Charlotte Harding, volunteered to work on the shows alongside current students, 3rd years Elise Berdah, Kylie Lee, Shushi Wong and 1st years Lauren Thynne and Sophia Going.

Deputy Head of School Peter Hatton, Programmes Director for Event and Experience Design, Event and Experience Management, and Fine Art commented, “The programme has been running for ten years, and I am increasingly being sent opportunities for work experience from graduates who are working in the events industry in various areas, freelancers like Kerri and Holly through to event designers with marketing and branding agencies. This is a very exciting development for current students, being able to work alongside former students is inspiring and extrely informative.”

Day of the Dead Parade, 2016. Photo by Elise Berdah.


To find out more about the highly successful Event and Experience Design programmes in the School of Music and Fine Art, please visit our Taster Day on Saturday 26th November at the Historic Dockyard Chatham.  Book your free place here:


Further information: 

Kerri Layton:

Holly Greenhall:

Feminine Vessels at Historic Dockyard Chatham

Luiza Jordan (2016); Feminine Vessels: Balloons, Wool, String. Photo by Rose Sizer.


Preparations for the Interim Degree Show from 3rd Year BA (Hons) Fine Art students in the School of Music and Fine Art are now in full swing – literally.

On Thursday morning, should you have ventured onto Chatham Historic Dockyard, you would have encountered a strong female presence, floating high above your head, suspended from a large industrial crane. Just outside the School of Music and Fine Art studios, artist Luiza Jordan installed her delicate yet immersive artwork Feminine Vessels.  The work is the result of extensive research and discovery into the history of the Dockyard.

Luiza Jordan (2016); Feminine Vessels: Balloons, Wool, String. Photo by Rose Sizer.


Artist Megan Boyle observes, “Jordan’s work is an exploration into materiality, which often manifests itself through sculpture and installation work. She attempts to represent the presence of the female, omitting images of the female nude and without explicitly making reference to the female body.  Rather, she uses materials associated with feminine identity and domesticity, engaging with organic bodily textures and shapes. In terms of the site in which these pieces can be found, Jordan aims to construct particular juxtaposition between the organic, fragility and fluidity of her invented forms, and the virile, masculine and industrial nature of her surroundings, which at the moment, is that of the Historic Dockyard, where the School of Music and Fine Art is located.”


Luiza Jordan (2016); Feminine Vessels: Balloons, Wool, String. Photo by Rose Sizer.


Jordan is now continuing to experiment with size, scale and material to prepare her work for the upcoming BA (Hons) Fine Art interim Degree Show Loading…  but this time within the beautiful historic Georgian building that is Chatham House in Rochester High Street.

The show, which features work by 30 artists, will be open as follows:
Saturday 10 December – Wednesday 14 December, 11am-4pm (closed Tuesday).  
The Private View is Friday 9 December, 6-9pm.  

Luiza Jordan (2016); Feminine Vessels: Balloons, Wool, String. Photo by Rose Sizer.


If you would like to be on the guest list, please book via

Show venue: 351 Rochester High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1DA

Further information here:
Facebook –
Instagram –


Article by Megan Boyle.

John Downton Awards for Young Artists



Dr Andrew Conio, Senior Lecturer in Fine Art was a member of the judging panel for the John Downton Awards for Young Artists, a County-wide school’s art prize sponsored by the University of Kent. The Ceremony was held on the 10th November at Kent County Hall in Maidstone, where an exhibition of shortlisted work will be shown until 3 January 2017, with selected works on tour at the Turner Contemporary in Margate during January and February 2017.

The John Downton Award for Young Artists is an annual exhibition which encourages and celebrates the creativity of Kent’s young artists. The exhibition commemorates the life and work of John Downton, the celebrated Kent artist, poet and philosopher.

Awards were given for Mixed Media, Painting, Drawing and Photography in 11 to 15 and 16 to 18 age groups and overall Gold, Silver, Bronze and Merit awards.

This is Dr Conio’s second year as judge.  He commented, “The number and range of works submitted shows that art is extremely vibrant in Kent schools.  The range of media, technical skills and willingness to address issues relevant to young people today to was exciting to see, and made judging very difficult.”

The judging panel, comprising the painter Charles Williams from Canterbury, Mike Addison printmaker and illustrator and Head of School of Further Education at the University of the Creative Arts, brought a range of experience and perspectives to the judging process but all they agreed that winning entries were excellent examples of art practice and indicated a promising future for the artists.


For more info go to:

School of Music and Fine Art at UCAS Design Your Future in London



On Tuesday 15th and Wednesday 16th November, 10am-3pm, The School of Music and Fine Art will be exhibiting at Design Your Future at the ExCeL Centre, London. Organised by UCAS, the event brings together over 100 exhibitors, workshops and demonstrations and is specifically for those interested in the creative arts and related subjects.

We are on stand 77 – come and chat to us about what the School of Music and Fine Art has offer and discover more about developing a career in the creative industries.

Visitor Guide here:

ExCeL London
S8 Entrance
One Western Gateway
Royal Victoria Dock
E16 1XL
Sat Nav: E16 1DR


More info here:

X factor vocal coach launches community pop, rock and soul choir

SMFA Concert 2016, Photo by Stacey Cooper.


A new University Pop, Rock & Soul Choir has been launched in the School of Music and Fine Art, led by choir director and vocal coach Kelly Fraser, Deputy Head of Vocals at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), who is currently working on this year’s X Factor.

Said Kelly, “The choir will work together to create vibey, innovative arrangements of existing popular music repertoire. Everyone is welcome, and choir sessions are guaranteed to be up-lifting!”

Singers are needed! This is a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the top names in the music business. Rehearsals are 1 – 2pm Fridays in the Galvanising Workshop, Historic Dockyard Chatham

To find out more contact:  Tel: 01634 888980.


Info on Kelly Fraser

John Doe Trio releases album under SMFA’s Foundry Studio recording contract



The John Doe Trio, an exciting Kent based three piece blues-rock band, is the first band to release an album under the School of Music and Fine Art’s Foundry Studio recording contract. The album Stranger is now available on iTunes, Amazon, HMV, and Spotify.

Based in the Chatham Historic Dockyard, The Foundry provides flagship music industry-standard facilities for the degree programmes, containing a 5.1 Control Room with a collection of outboard gear, a Live Room and Vocal Booth, with the studio designed by DACS Audio, who have over 25 years of field experience in Studio Design, Audio Installation, and Acoustic Treatment.

Phil Marsh, the School’s Technical Manager and Enterprise Liaison said,  “The foundry recording contract is a unique collaborative opportunity for artists to access the high end recording facilities and staff expertise that the school offers.”  Frank Walker, the studio engineer added, “Being able to use the foundry gave us the flexibility to capture the authentic John Doe Trio sound. Recording a band of this calibre made full use of the studio and I was really pleased with the results.”

The band, comprising Phil Woollett on vocals and guitar, Craig Ferguson on bass and Paul Townsend on drums, have been receiving glowing reports from the blues radio and online fraternity for their debut album, with Kevin Beale of Ridge Radio describing it as “a masterpiece”.  As well as traditional blues and blues-rock, the album combines influences of funk, bluegrass and even jazz in the creation of a truly exciting sound, with Phil also swapping his traditional guitars for lap steel and even a homemade cigar box instruments for stunning results.

After an extremely successful launch night at one of Kent’s premier regular live music venues, the band intend to follow up the release of Stranger with a number of high profile live shows over the next twelve months.


For further information go to , or twitter @johndoeblues.