Art in Bridge started in October 2001 with the staging of an exhibition in the village hall open to anyone living or working in the village of Bridge. The date was scheduled to coincide with the Canterbury Festival and the Exhibition was included in the Festival programme.

This one day exhibition was very successful in that over 60 artists exhibited more than 160 works, in addition to which there were displays from the Bridge school, the Playgroup and Woodpeckers. Several of the artists were professional or at least semi-professional artists. Some of the entries were from secondary school students. Thus we had a great range in age and ability.

The only criticism levelled at the exhibition was that one day was not enough! So encouraged by this success the exhibition was repeated in October 2002. Its scope was widened to included the area in and around Bridge. The support was very much as for the previous year with 70 artists (50% had not exhibited in the previous year) and over 170 exhibits (only two from the previous year). At the same time Elisa Hudson staged an exhibition in the Plough and Harrow public house, which was very well supported.

The success of the first exhibition also lead to the idea of a community art project, initially as part of the Queen's Jubilee. This was explored and it became apparent that external funding was likely to be needed. To assist with any applications for grants that might be decided to be made Art in Bridge was formally constituted with its own bank account. This community project has as yet not proceeded any further than exploratory contacts with Canterbury City Council, East Kent arts and Kent Institute of Art and Design.

The open exhibitions were a great success as social events, bringing together many in the village who would not have otherwise met, partly due to the provision of a cafe. They also provided an opportunity for local artists to exhibit who might otherwise never feel confident enough to do so. This hopefully has the result of encouraging local artists in their endeavours.

To further encourage this local enthusiasm, plans are afoot to set up workshop classes when invited artists will talk and demonstrate their practices. A pilot scheme is planned for 2003.

At the last exhibition it was found that more helpers were needed and we are actively seeking offers for next year.

Art in Bridge could develop in a number of ways but without support and enthusiasm from other villagers it will not happen. Activities could include social events, lectures, practical demonstrations, involvement with the village school's art and of course a village community art project.

If anyone is interested in contributing their ideas and energies to furthering Art in Bridge we would be very pleased to hear from them.

John Corfield November 2002

Since the above was written we have had successful exhibitions every year since.