Sevenoaks Visual Arts Forum (SVAF) have submitted a successful bid to run the Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery as an artist-led space. This blog will chart the progress of its first year.


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‘The remit for SVAF running the Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope Gallery as an artist led space has a focus on increasing numbers of the public and arts community visiting the Gallery space. Increasing its profile and visibility.

We aim to do this with a project about shoes and feet throughout the Kaleidoscope building, Gallery and the surrounding streets of Sevenoaks.’

‘We would like to invite residents; schools, organisations, businesses and members of the community to be part of FOOTFALL by making a fabulous creative shoe or footprint.’

And so the Footfall project is coming to a conclusion having achieved its objectives and no doubt having established a broad spectrum of people who will continue to visit and engage with the gallery.

It is rare to see so much work in one place created with so much endeavour and engagement. It is pleasure to sit with these things and to enjoy simply being there. But what to say?

I have struggled with this. The concept ,execution of the work, the engagement of the artists, the fun and joy of it all rightly demands nothing less than unequivocal praise. And behind it all a tremendous amount of hard work in the design and execution of the project itself.

Polite finely-crafted pieces contrast with edgy, hacked out cuttings of and into the slippers; what lucky adult keeps its child  in reserve, intact?

‘Who am I? asks one – ‘MUM, Wife,Nurse…”  If the slipper fits…..but do  I sense a boot in reserve? And there are shoes, knitted shoes, baby shoes, sheep – shoes, paper shoes. A pushchair shoe (?) – made from leaves. Loaves of bread shoes….a ‘horse’-shoe Feet are drawn around , coloured in ,written on, soles rubbed on, smiling faces drawn, names, spiders, cats and other animals, a mermaid, aliens….. labours of love.

Whilst I was in the gallery thinking and photographing, I spoke to two visitors. A man entered, stood, smiled, shared a few words about the pleasure of seeing so much imagination demonstrated in one place; the initial response to the show is  a shock of delight. SVAF member  Suzanne Beard called in to drop off a slipper,  and enthused about her engagement with workshops related to the project. She remarked about the way in which people gradually opened up, warmed to the possibilities of their work, – it was she said one of the most rewarding, the  best projects she has ever done. The show itself points to it. (And such a range of work and artists belies the usual business of comparisons and hierarchies of value.)

The works here  of the child, the sophisticate, the cultured, the innocent, the enthusiast, the amateur, the professional, bear comparison but not judgement. The power of a show like this is in its mass, of the capacity of its ’critical mass’, the combined power of all its happily formed parts, a social thing, to make an overwhelming statement about the necessity of making and the creative process, and of their importance in the educated person. There is an argument to be had about the nature of creativity and the place of the arts as fundamentally educative, an argument implicit in the work; the matter of judgement and how we talk about art is pertinent particularly in this context of increasing ‘footfall’.

And Enjoy!

Finishes 5th Jan

A Happy New Year to All!!




Selection and Curation by Rebecca Fairman at Arthouse1

By 30 artists.
A meaning of terms,
For each artist,
From each artist,
A serendipity of words?

No brief, no statement, no sentence
Meaning can slip and shift.
The beholder
Should not feel comfortable.

Systematic, unpredictable and intuitive
Ideas of breath and connection,
Atmosphere of dreamed spaces,
Forlorn and abandoned.

Lives that once were whole,
Transmuted through burning
The element of masquerade
At the moment of his death.

The fragility of desires,
Presence and loss,
Dead ones,
Erosion decay and transformation.
Find beauty.

In many towns
The surrender of being lost,
Life changing circumstances,
Capture the intangible
Connections, yet there is disconnect.

Our self obsessed culture,
Intolerance of mistakes/imperfections in life ,
A personal space, one that others might enter.

Trying to capture
Visual movement,
The play of line against colour
Is quite magical.


Pauline Alexander, Judith Balchin, Alison Berry, Jo Brown, Niki Campbell, Andrea Coltman, Christina Corner, Louisa Crispin, Angela Dewar, Margaret Devitt,Christina France, Sonia Griffin, Katie Hayward, Bill Hall, Melissa Hill, Elisa Hudson, Amanda Houchen, Marion Jones, Maria John, Sarah Jones, Marilyn Kyle, David Minton, Venetia Nevill, Diana Poliak, Deborah Ravetz, Julian Rowe, Jane Sandae, Sabrina Shah, Juliet Simpson, Rachel Wickremer.


David Minton


FLEECE and FABRIC A Textile Experience with Judy Balchin,Judy Balchin Angela Carole StockerAngela stocker and Sue Evans
This show represents a coming together of several strands in the work of the artists. It is appropriately puzzling in its varied preoccupations to do with meaning, process, craft(ing) content, form, performance, status. Its objects constitute a show essentially to do with a crucial, formative time in the unfolding ideas of the artists, the works exploratory conversations with themselves and replete with the uncertainties and difficulties that such conversations have.
Judy Balchin has had a varied and successful career, or set of careers based in graphic design, writing, teaching, working for the BBC. This exhibition represents a new direction for her work, in a search for something else, something to do with that sense of purpose, exploration of self, engagement with open-ended ideas and insecurities that is part and parcel of the business of making ‘art’.
It raises up an exploration of distinctions to be made and questions to be posed concerning the concept(s) of art.

Her piece, ’Delightful Dolores’ is an ornament, an artwork, reference to a ‘Dolores’ type, gender statement, light hearted and serious, a toy, an insight into what we are, both sexualised and neutered, an image of a woman and a stereotypical image of an image of a woman, simulacrum and fetish, a simple thing and a conundrum; there is a ‘kind’ of person there, a flirting Venus, intention and accident, surrogate tease. What would a feminist reading make of it in terms of the male gaze.?

The art-craft divide stands at a crossroad of moral discomfort, where the pretty and the comfortable camouflage uncomfortable realities of being, and at a class divide between rough hands and refined minds, doing and thinking, and the divide between mind and body, all arguably false distinctions fashioned for the purposes of power and control. It engages too with notions of the decorative, decoration, the ornamental and the sculptural.

There resides in ‘Delightful Dolores’ an underlying pathos of prettiness which sits at the fulcrum of Judy’s art. Dolores is painfully, precariously balanced on an edge ground sharp by the meetings of ‘craft’ and ‘art’. It opens up questions regarding the portrayal of women.

At a basic level, the term ‘craft’ refers to processes and not to things, whilst ‘art’ refers to things and not to processes. But the term ’craft’ as a finger pointing at certain kinds of thing is also a political use of the term, designed in pursuit of a kind of order of merit in support of a fine art hegemony.

Throughout the first week of this collaboration, Angela Stocker worked in a wardrobe. Only the sounds of an artist working – knocks , bumps, rustling, greeted whoever entered the gallery.
Working blind she felt her way into her work with paper, wire, silver faced paper held together with masking tape, like a hiding naughty secretive child in the wardrobe. (Would Mummy approve, understand even?) And the noise within as the artist’s embryonic torn paper offspring grows in the womb-wardrobe makes for a pleasurably perverse piece.
Is there then a meeting that takes place between‘With hidden noise 0.3’ and Dolores? What secret sounds might reverberate through her voluptuous form? What sadnesses might her curves conceal, what joys echo within? Her knowing posture sends a signal? Shake the wardrobe and hear the sound, sound as tease, sound as Dolores. Is noise the sound of something? Do we look beyond the image of Dolores or enjoy the moment? What do things so different in kind as Angela’s cupboard and Judy’s felt work have to say to each other?
Our tastes our choices, our affiliations, mark out the territory of our values, making distinctions between self and other, and more pertinently, between me and not me, us and them. We are defined by our tastes, the tastes that bind us and validate us through the forms of objects and which in validating our judgements validate ourselves… ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall …’ what we do is what we are- our work is what we are.

Sue Evans,is like Judy Balchin engaged in a period of deliberate change, through her MFA course. Her pieces, ‘Gradual Loss of Focus’, ‘Memory Quilt’ and ‘Ambition’ have taken a turn of ideas and form in an empathic direction in contrast to her previously wryly descriptive approach; an embrace pushes aside the handshake. Formally she uses the physical qualities and behaviours of her materials for their potential for metaphor and empathy, a felt process of ‘identifying with…’,The embrace now occupies space where once was a relationship, an engagement with experience as opposed to a more distanced description of events. ‘Memory Quilt- Body -18-68’ sldes and drops from the wall. Black and beaded it descends from soft black canvas like rectangles to spill onto the floor collapsing and folding gaining experience along the way. It speaks of ageing, 18 to 68, a lifetime. Sue’s lifetime? Someone once said to me that death is maturity.

There are two material based collaborative pieces in the show it being ostensibly a collaboration but the sense in which the show is truly cooperative is in the discourse, conversation, in the provocative juxtaposition of things, maybe a give and take…..

See more at SVAFSVAF

This show is now finished and was part of the Sevenoaks Visual Art Forum programme at the Kaleidoscope gallery.Gallery


‘Blurred Boundaries’ explores decisive moments when the traditional boundaries of fiction/non-fiction,truth and falsehood Blur’ This quotation from the blurb of Bill Nichols’ book ‘Blurred Boundaries; Questions of Meaning in contemporary Culture’(Indiana University Press 1995) sets the context for ‘An exhibition by Maidstone based Arts Cooperative ‘Making Art Work’, ‘Blurred Boundaries’ will consider and investigate how the blurring of boundaries can be viewed from a multi-dimensional position and how these considerations can be expressed through contemporary and critical visual art practise.’
Boundaries and borders, beginnings and endings, edges and limits. All are temporary, impermanent artefacts – now this and not that, this for the time being, self and other, inside and out, dualistc, yes and no, physical and psychological, geographical, metaphorical, descriptive, definitive, imbued with ambiguities.
The works in this show run the gamut of boundaries. Blurred? The blurred boundary is a matter of interest to different perspectives, an instrument of deceit as much as it might be a prerequisite for investigation, a grey area. And given the boundary as a social artefact, boundaries come with a point of view, take a stand. Matters of taste, value, judgement, and their consequent behavioural expressions, are reproduced over time through interlocking and overlapping boundaries of social class, race, gender, sexuality. Maintained explicitly through laws and rules and implicitly through relationships, such boundaries as lived are recognised and misrecognised as natural. They are insecure ideological things in need of constant attention lest they crumble or shatter. Like Martin Creed’s light switching on and off, boundaries are vulnerable at precisely the point where they are neither the one nor the other and become a tentative form through which new possibilities might flow; a hiatus in the boundary is home to the creative, opportunity to the viral, subject to the threat. Our notion of the boundary partakes of the ultimately doomed and misplaced hope that certainty is possible. Boundaries are much in the news at present.

Deborah Humm’s ‘You Look Great Today’ is a heartfelt piece speaking of mental anguish, depression. Layers of poetry printed on sheets of transparent acetate degenerate into a cacophony of words to be deciphered by the viewer. Nearby, Angela Stocker’s ‘Forgotten Corners’ sits a little forlorn on the floor in the corner, and draws our attention to places that are ‘…overlooked, underused….’, a metaphor for those spaces in our minds where we lean mental bits and pieces, offcuts of ideas and stuff that later remind the passing eye of what might have been and might still be.

Christina France’s ‘This Was Once Someone’s Life’ a multilayered copperplate etching hints at pathos, highlights the fading in what is now only half seen, just as the wallpaper peeling in Jenny Fairweather’s photograph, ’Bungalow’ appeals nostalgically to its own pinkness for a sign of hope.
There is nostalgia too, particularly for those of us of a certain age, In Elizabeth Dudley’s ‘Off The Wall’. Two girls stand smiling, innocent, outside their home perhaps somewhere in America. They stand for all that is right and wholesome, holding their dolls like the good mothers that they must become;
a nuclear brightness creates harsh contrasts in the scene and a frantically hand-drawn electrocardiograph trace alludes to…….
And does the the title of Asli Shehi’s ‘Me or You’ look sideways to ‘Me orYou?’ as its mirroring co-opts the viewer into a kind of identity crisis.

Judy Balchin’s ‘Le Chapeau Rouge’ is the polite title to a piece reflecting the expression, ‘Red hat,no drawers’, a term used to intimate a certain kind of female sexual proclivity.Now transgender, under the Chapeau, it is brought up to date. Its stark juxtaposition of sartorial omission and intimations of flesh shocks in the manner of a joke, with a frisson of tensioned excitement and its saucy red hat that is a fetishised proxy for desire. Anne Delacour (Untitled) ponders the ethical and moral issues of the slaughter of animals, and the so recent cruelties of the institutional repression of homosexuality. She argues for the individual. She argues for harmony.

In ‘Chimera’, ‘A hybrid of human, animal and fauna.’ Angela Wooi has created a sugary sharp irony in the embracing of Piercing by Pinkness, a kind of ‘pretty’ pain, a scraping reconciliation of opposites in an ongoing revolution of tastes.
Fleur Alston and Sarah Abercrombie Jones both use collage, Sarah with the physical remnants of previous pieces, Fleur digitally, their juxtaposition an indication of the flow in which language travels the borders of change, identifying and exploring common threads in technical evolution.
Shirley-Ann Galbraith’s pieces refer to Hypnogogic and Hypnopompic experiences in sleep, connecting and forming a continuum with Sue Vass’ work, ‘Trance State’ an automatic drawing produced in a kind of hypnotic state in which ‘…We become oblivious to our surroundings and outside stimuli.’
Sue Batt ’s piece ‘Hidden Barriers’ and Sharon van Diepen’s ‘Soft Sculpture’ point to different facets of the social in law and government and their physical manifestations in fences and signs.
Linda Simon documents in knitted form cycle rides taken over a year. Recorded on Strava, the information from 119 rides and 1225 miles travelled is reproduced in knitted form displayed as a spiral mounted in the rim of a wheel.
Margaret Barretts ‘Growth, 2017’ sits comfortably with itself. Made from reused rope and string collected over 20 years, it retains the gentle demeanour of something unhurried.
Ostensibly unfinished, but unequivocally complete, a length of loose blue rope tumbles lyrically, like birdsong, from its rim.

Sevenoaks Kaleidoscope until 11th November
Open Mon-Wed 9-6, Thur 9-8 Fri 9-6 Sat 9-5
Kaleidoscope Gallery Buckhurst Lane Sevenoaks TN13 1LQ

Nucleus Art Gallery Chatham 17- 28 November
Mon-Fri 9-5 Sat 10-5 Sun11-4
Nucleus Arts Centre
272 High Street
Kent ME4 4BP


‘During October 2017 artist Nicole Mollett will be in residence in the Kaleidoscope Gallery, using the space as her studio during the week. Situated above a library, the gallery is well suited for the artist who regularly uses books and encyclopaedias as a starting point for her ideas. Nicole will explore the idea of drawing as a language, using visual images to tell stories and make connections.’
Nicole’s posting on a-n of details of the residency (
provides a comprehensive overview of her work and interests to date The residency has on the other hand offered an opportunity to, as she puts it, ‘.. get away from my own stereotypes… by locking myself in a white cube and seeing what happens…’
There is a political underpinning to Nicole’s socially engaged, deceptively playful and considered work. Her piece, ‘The A to Z of partnership .’ from her collaboration with writer Sarah Butler on ‘Creative People and

( points to the manner of its drawing which she explains ‘….takes the style of a 1930s- 40’s instruction manual, or educational poster. Using the reassuring structure of an A-Z guide to give instructions on how to form successful partnerships……The illustrations within the text refer to specific instructions…’ Hers is an educative, discursive, unassumingly democratic art, her residency subverting those connotations of the White Cube to do with hierarchy, commodity, and the establishment. See her piece, ‘Why you should go and see Rachel Maclean’s Spite Your Face instead of seeing Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable by Damien Hirst’
I have found the idea of drawing as a language perversely opaque. The idea of exploring the ‘idea’ of drawing as a language, using visual images to tell stories and make connections’ is immense in itself. Is it the case that to use visual images to tell stories and make connects assumes already, or is evidence that drawing is a language? Or do we use drawing AS THOUGH it were a language to suspend disbelief (that it isn’t) and enable an act of faith, (a drawing.) Is drawing less a language than an allusive, referential, thing, a pointing thing – look here, look there.

Alternately, is this the IDEA of drawing as a language or the idea of DRAWING as a language? The shift of emphasis from IDEA to DRAWING is a shift from exploring the possibility of drawing as a language to an exploration of drawing as language in action. How might either be explored? Is ’Drawing is a language’ simply a figure of speech that gets us out of a categorical hole? Is ‘Drawing is a language’ a category mistake? If it is, in which category is Drawing to be found? Is a taxonomy of drawing languages possible? The business of ‘reading’ a drawing involves approaching it through a verbal enquiry, describing and ‘interpreting’, whatever strikes the eye? Is this a separation from the experience of the work in itself or a means of accessing it? It operates between the known and the emerging, the suspected, facilitates the emergence of particular meanings, firms up meaning, connotes our experience?
But in the end, if it looks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck, then surely it is….. but what if it isn’t…….?’ How can we be sure of its Duckness? Well it’s common sense isn’t it? If it looks like a Duck, quacks like a Duck………, maybe it’s a Stereotypical Duck, or a Metaphor Duck.
In her talk to SVAF Nicole expressed her intention in this residency to ‘….get away fro my own stereotypes… by locking myself in a White Cube and seeing what happens…’ Is the notion that ‘Drawing is a language’ itself a stereotype? What might an artist’s stereotype look like? How do stereotypical behaviours and stereotypical ideas come together in work; the stereotype is a self-replicating organism, with, at its heart, the mutated DNA of a grain of truth.
This piece below to do with male vulnerability reflects the current tide of thinking about gender issues. Dualistic definitions of gender are beginning to dissolve into each other. A realisation is forming that male/female, mind/body distinctions can no longer be sustained in their traditional (and conservative) forms.

All this is not of course quite what was meant by the original proposal, yet my misreading, misinterpretation, misdirection might have some meaning. Not all engagements are considered, rational events, but often are an uncomfortable tripping over the unexpected. My understandings of Nicole’s work if understandings they are, have come slowly, have dawned on me. For others the meanings of her work will have been clear from the outset. And I take some reassurance from the thought that this is what these things are about, an education, a nudging and cajoling, an encouragement , a reminder of value, principle, an encouragement to keep an eye on ourselves, examine our stereotypes and our languages, to look at things afresh. Nicole’s work has a conversational feel, something to be trusted, drawn somehow in the manner of speech, with a turn of softness and compositional manner reminiscent of a spoken dialect. Drawing and word embrace, reflect and echo back and forth in each other as the work develops.
On Wednesday 25th, a change as small children came to the gallery to enjoy a practical session.
‘Make your own magic lantern slide with the help of artists Nicole Mollett and Frog Morris. See and be inspired by original 18th century slides of beasts and monsters painted by Sevenoaks artist William Knight.’

Nicole and Frog Morris ran a session titled ‘Drawn to the Light,’ engaging children with the Magic Lantern. They were introduced to the working of the magic lantern, viewed some slides and then made their own by painting on glass. The little academic matter of drawing as a language wasn’t a problem. They just got on with it, followed their own thoughts.
They loved it.
This writing is a wrong -end -of -the -stick thing, but is a lesson to me and my struggles have a curious fit with the subject. It is 27th October now. I have written reams of stuff, over hours and days . My stereotypes have taken a bit of a hammering. The residency ends tomorrow.