Dilute To Taste was formed in Chatham in 1999 by David Wise. Here you can read, see and hear a little about the projects it has undertaken.
'Legacy of the 20th Century' was the groups first project, featuring work created in response to the Millennium celebrations and during workshops that David Wise and Richie Smith held at the Medway Soup Kitchen. It cost £3760 and was funded by Awards For All. The exhibition took place over 3 days at The Brook Theatre in Chatham and featured installation art, photography, live music, film, creative workshops and a functioning soup kitchen.
The groups second project in 2001 was also funded by Awards For All (£4,540) and saw them working with the Stuckist poet and painter Bill Lewis, textile artist Cas Holmes and users of the Medway Soup Kitchen to create poems, quilts and photographs. David Wise also conducted creative workshops with children at Demelza House Hospice and the results of these 2 projects was exhibited at The Brook Theatre. In 2002 Tescos gave the group £400 in order to enable us to take this body of work and exhibit it in the foyers of their superstores in Ashford, Maidstone and Ramsgate for 3 months, during which time the store managers estimated that 250,000 people saw the work.
Also in 2002 The Co-Op gave the group £1,600 to operate literacy and creative workshops with disadvantaged people in Medway, and to put on regular entertainment (acoustic music and poetry) in Chatham’s New Art Centre.
In 2003 Awards For All again supported the group (£4,687) to collaborate with writers/artists Jim Shean, Charles Thomson, Bill Lewis and Billy Childish to collate and publish ‘The Medway Scene’, a book that aimed to relate the history of Medway art, music and literature from Roman times to the present day, and also to curate an exhibition of the best of the art produced in the area over recent years. This show featured the art of Billy Childish, Traci Emin, Nick Tidman, Cas Holmes, Joe Machine, Amanda Randall, Sexton Ming and several others. There was also a launch event with entertainment provided by Medway Opera. The group used the funds raised by the sale of the book to form the publishing house, ‘Urban Fox Press’.
In 2008 the group worked with the companies Art Safari and Helping Hands to provide an orphanage for a village in Malawi, Africa. For this they produced a book (The Art Safari Sketchbook) and donated all of the profits to the project, which turned out to be more than enough to erect the building and set it on its way. In 2009 the group produced another book which allowed them to feed/refurbish 3 orphanages in Sri Lanka. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings, please Click Here
Dilute To Taste has worked often with schools in North Kent, especially New Brompton College in Gillingham. The projects have included...
1/ Transitions; this was also in association with The Excellence Cluster and Aim Higher. The group took 20 children who were deemed to be at risk and together with them made a book which is used today to help students make the transition from Junior to Secondary school. The groups part in this was to take the art and literature classes, to organise the recording sessions (they also made a music CD out of their thoughts), collate the material, design the book and CD, edit the book, typeset it and then print it.
2/ Collaborations; for this the group contracted the musicians, planned the workshops, then together they looked at the children’s songs, worked with them on areas that they felt needed improvement, recorded the songs at a professional recording studio and launched the album at a live gig in a local pub.
3/ New Voices and Rockbox; these project was very similar to Collaborations, except the group were working with students from Robert Napier School.
4/Various Events that have opened up new venues in Medway and offered opportunities for local bands of all ages to perform, as well as more established acts for further afield. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings please Click Here or click on any track below to hear examples of the music and poetry produced during the studio sessions and live gigs.
In 2004 Awards For All awarded the group £4,950 to fund a project that celebrated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar by creating work relevant to the River Medway, where Admiral Nelson’s flagship, the ‘Victory’, was built. As part of the project the group…
1/ Made a film called ‘That Girl Ammonia’, featuring the ballet dancer Julie Winn. Directed by Billy Childish & David Wise, filmed by Wolf Howard, and with a soundtrack by Billy Childish.
2/ Commissioned Billy Childish to create a 6ft by 4ft oil painting of HMS Victory which featured in the exhibition (details below) and was then donated to Medway Council's Art collection (it is to this day on display in a corridor of the Brook Theatre).
3/ Created several books, including ‘Memories of a Medway Tugboat Captain’, the story of a disabled seafarer who’d worked the river all of his life, ‘The Chatham Ultramarine’ by Stuckist painter Joe Machine, ‘The River be my Blud’ and ‘9 Stories of the River Medway’ which both feature river-inspired poetry and prose by Billy Childish, and ‘River’, a written and photographic account of a 3 day canoe trip down the Medway by David Wise and painter Karl Farrer.
4/ Commissioned 4 creative workshops; ‘Woodcutting with Billy Childish’, ‘Pinhole Photography with Wolf Howard’, ‘Painting with Jon Barker’ and ‘Creative Writing with Katherine May'.
5/ Held a one month long public exhibition of the artwork created, at The Brook Theatre, Chatham. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings please Click Here
Urban Fox Press was Dilute to Taste's publishing and event organising arm from 2004 until 2009. Through it the group published over 40 books of work by local artists and writers. Most of the books were funded by door receipts from the groups entertainment events. They also organized the Medway Festival Fringe, an event which ran for 4 years. The group funded and advised on the start-up of Medway’s first all female writing group, The Medway Mermaids, and printed their first compilation of work. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings please Click Here or to listen to a selection of songs and poems recorded at the 1st Fringe Festival, please click on any track below.
In 2005 Awards For All awarded the group £4,950 to set up, administer, publicize and pay artists fees for the ‘Smoking Dog Club’, and also publish the monthly ‘Smoking Dog’ magazine. The club was a Friday night affair in Chatham town centre offering civilised entertainment, organised by David Wise alongside the artists Wolf Howard, Billy Childish and Zara Carpenter. At each night there would be an exhibition of artwork by local artists, poetry readings, films, acoustic music and an open mike slot. The group would also pay for artists from other areas to travel to Medway and perform. The award money allowed the club to make a profit in its first year, and the group used this profit to continue operating the club until 2008. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings please Click Here or click below to hear songs recorded live at the club, and also at other Urban Fox nights at the Command House and the Sunlight Centre.
In 2008 Awards for All gave the group £9,800 to undertake a project called ‘The Band of Historical Hillwalkers’. David Wise worked with the artist Billy Childish to create an art-based walking group which organised free, artist-led rural walks twice a month, created a website where walkers could display their art, produced 3 books of the art created whilst on the trips and also curated an exhibition of the art at The Brook Theatre. To view relevant Photographs and Newspaper Clippings please Click Here
In 2011 Awards For All gave the group £9,850 to undertake a project called ‘Discover Your Estuary’ in partnership with the Medway Swale Estuary Partnership (which is a meeting point for the KCC, Medway Council, The Wildfowlers Trust, Peel Ports Authority and several other estuary stakeholders). The projects' aim is to increase awareness of and access to the Medway estuary, and also provide a platform for all to share their images, experiences and tips about the area. David commissioned 2 artists to create canoe and walking trails, and created a website, which can be seen at www.discoveryourestuary.com There were also 2 books published on the creative attractions of the area and a public launch events aboad the LV21 Lightship in Gillingham as part of Kent Coastal Week.