Current Projects – Dan Thompson Studio

This is a selection of current work, at the end of summer 2021.

Peace: an ongoing series of connected works.

Interbeing: at the Powell-Cotton Museum, Kent, August-December 2021.

Newcastle Common: a three year empty shop programme in Newcastle-under-Lyme, with Appetite.

Art City: telling the story of radical theatre company B arts and their work.

Manifesto of Care: Bernadette Russell’s manifesto for Frequency Festuval, designed by me, exhibited at the Albany, Deptford.

I’m also writing a new poetry collection, Towerblock, and planning a new series of workshops with Company of Makers, for veterans, to be delivered in autumn 2021. Alongside this are new projects in development, and some one-off workshops and Zoom sessions. In my studio, I’m playing with an Adana flatbed letterpress, making badges, and creating a series of large collages on board.

If you’d like to work with me in 2021-2022, drop me an email.

The Social Artist Podcast

Lloyd DavisThe trouble with being a social artist in a small town is that it can be rather solitary. And it’s an area of work that’s fed by discussion, debate, a bit of discourse. So – good fellow, fine chum and all-round top chap Lloyd Davis (left, photographed on our Workshop 24 project) have decided to address that, by having a conversation regularly, and recording it as a podcast.

Here’s the first one. A little rough, sans exciting jingles, and Lloyd sounds a bit quiet in places; but where else will you get happiness, Mary Portas, Jeremy Deller, Humphrey Lyttleton at Conway Hall, Bryony Kimmings, William Gibson on bohemias, the tidal Thames, The Story conference, a mysterious trunk belonging (maybe) to Powell-Cotton and the Arcadia Sweetshop all in one podcast? Nowhere, that’s where.

Download the Social Artist podcast – it’s about 30 minutes long – here.

Fresh challenges, new collaborations and further adventure

P1020430It’s been a good few years for Revolutionary Arts, and we’ll be 13 years old this Thursday. As always with a birthday, that means some reflection – and some thinking about the future..

We’ve set up all sorts of projects with Revolutionary Arts. One, Empty Shops Network, has made the case for town centres, and it’s now accepted that we should be reusing spaces on our High Streets for something more interesting.

Projects like Workshop 1a and Workshop 24 tested the ‘agora’ idea, Retail Ready People gave young people a voice in the debate about tomorrow’s High Street, and I’ve just curated the Amy Winehouse Foundation’s pop up shop in Camden. All that experience meant that I was asked to write a book, Pop Up Business For Dummies – seeing it in a bookshop for the first time was rather special.

Starting #riotcleanup in August 2011 meant I got to hang out with some great people, And building on that experience, Revolutionary Arts got funding for #wewillgather and used it to test, prototype and try new ideas around getting people together to do good things. It’s shown that people love the places they live, and are willing to roll their sleeves up and make change happen.

Travelling to talk about these ideas and to help people start their own projects, I’ve seen more of England than ever before. I’ve fallen in love with some of the places people never tell you that you should visit – Boston, Coventry, Leeds, Margate, Rochdale, Southsea. Trips to Belfast, Rotterdam, Stresa, and Newcastle in Australia have been experiences which I’ll never forget.  I’ve been to 10 Downing Street, watched the New Year fireworks from the roof of the BBC’s Bush House, and went to the Olympic Opening Ceremony. Better than the places were the people I’ve met; inspiring, challenging, entertaining.

I’ve been feeling a little bit like that work’s done. I need a fresh challenge, new angels to wrestle with, another unexplored corner of the map. And I’d like your help. So – as Jed Bartlett would say, what’s next?

You can tell from this site what I’m interested in, and the skills, knowledge and experience I have. You might have heard me talk, seen me on telly, or read something I’ve written.

I’m interested in architecture, in the problems around housing, in cycling and the infrastructure that goes with it, in the return of small-scale manufacture, in local distinctiveness, in easy listening music, in going back to Newcastle NSW for a longer visit, in writing about England, in looking at the working class culture I grew up in, in working with young people, in Mod style, in reusing old buildings, in design and typography, in making social media useful, in tomorrow’s High Street, and in taking a DIY approach to problems. I’m looking for fresh challenges, new collaborations and further adventures. Want to talk about something?

The Fisherman’s Prayer, The Ice Prince and Me

At 7am this morning, with the streets still dark and empty, I loaded the bike pannier with six chunks of ice. Inside each was a splinter of pine from the cargo of the Ice Prince, which sank a year ago. And – a year ago today – Worthing, West Sussex woke to find thousands of tons of that pine on its pebble beaches.

I rode along the prom, and stopped at the Foreshore Office, by the Lido; locking my bike to an old fishing boat winch. 

One by one, in the dark, I unpacked each chunk of ice, photographed them, and took them to the sea. In the dark, cold, wind and rain, I recited a traditional fisherman’s prayer before releasing each chunk of ice into the salty sea. Each release was one groyne to the east, leaving a trail from west to east.

By the time I released the sixth, by the pier, the sun was rising and the beach was light.

As I walked back along the beach, the chunks I had launched had been released by the sea again, thrown up the tide line and left stranded. Unusual, odd objects but somehow looking as if they belonged there, amongst the pebbles.

It felt raw, and rough, and primal, and ancient, and religious, this simple action. It marked a year. It marked an event. 

Tomorrow, I will walk the beach and see if I can find the pine splinters.