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Streets Ahead Collective launched by Visual Arts department

2 February 2024
Visual Arts have helped transform a former cafe in Canterbury High Street into a pop-up art shop.

EKC Canterbury College’s Visual Arts department have helped transform the former Saffron Café in Canterbury High Street into a pop-up art shop.

The Streets Ahead Collective has been organised by Ben Kidger, Head of Visual Arts and Liz Welstead, Owner of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The shop sells a collection of art designed by EKC Canterbury College students, local artists and clients from Catching Lives, an independent charity supporting the homeless and vulnerably housed.

The shop was launched on Friday 19 January with a Private View event, as part of a four-week pilot. In attendance were EKC Canterbury College staff and students alongside local artists and industry experts, who were able to explore the work and take part in professional networking.

Visual Arts students and clients from Catching Lives have been working in the shop to promote their work, gain an idea of what the future can bring, and to engage with visitors. Through this partnership, this has been a great opportunity for students who have gained valuable transferrable skills, alongside dedicated work experience in the Arts industry.

Level 3 Art and Design student Holly, said about her time working for Streets Ahead: “I’m appreciative of the experience this has given me. Not only have I been able to expand my business knowledge, but we’ve also been able to expand the art offer within the city. As Canterbury is such a tourist spot, there’s such a wide audience for art and culture, so it’s been great to be part of a project that can showcase local artists and get students’ work into a more public space.”

Rock, Paper, Scissors is a community arts collective which provides workshops, inspiring arts activities and opportunities for those looking to get into the industry.

This projects’ aim is to help empower community spaces and emerging talent in the art sector. It is also hoped that the project will become even bigger in the future. Ben said about the project: “This project hopes to leave a lasting and permanent mark on Canterbury’s shopping district and serves as an introduction to a larger city-wide vision. This vision focuses on creative workshops, studios, galleries and retail spaces aimed at further empowering and enriching the community.”

Level 3 Photography student Chloe is grateful about the experiences that Ben and this project has given her in College, saying “When Ben first invited us to a meeting about the project and how it would benefit us, I was eager to get involved. Assisting within the shop has helped me gain valuable experience and develop customer service skills that will help me in the future. The business knowledge and skills I’ve learnt will be invaluable as I hope to become a freelance photographer once I complete my course.”

The Streets Ahead Collective is currently open until Sunday 18 February, where you can discover students’ artwork, including ceramic pieces, pin badges and prints.

You can learn more about our Creative and Design courses and other opportunities that students have on our subject area page.