Kendal’s YWCA will be transformed in October into an art installation that is part comic strip, part crossword puzzle, that examines our concepts of home, and homelessness.
As part of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival (16th -18th October) “Windows Trail”, local shops and businesses are paired with comic artists, who transform their window displays into comic book art throughout October.
Stroud-based improvisational comic book artist Dave Crane, who will be running improvisation photoshoots with the public during the festival, has been paired this year with Kendal YWCA. The YWCA Resource Centre at Yard 95 Stricklandgate includes a café and local business resources including a conference room. On the upper floors Impact Housing provide supported accommodation for young homeless people.
Dave describes the exhibition as “somewhere between a conventional art exhibition, a series of comic strips, and a crossword puzzle. The public space around the cafe contains a large number of full-length windows, including a circular bank of ten over 7 metres long – it’s an amazing canvas to work with, and, of course, it’s visible from both sides. Having picked the theme of ‘home’, there’s a great opportunity to tell both sides of the story – the view from inside the home, and from the outside.”
“There are a lot of ways of looking at the topic of ‘Home’”, Dave continues. “At the personal level, the security offered by a home is an essential human dignity, but on the flipside, fear of not having that security can drive us to callousness and inhumanity. There’s a political dimension too, of course, that’s very much in the news right now. Many of us are chasing positive notions of community, and submitting to very negative notions of exclusion, nationalism and isolationism.
“Even with over seven metres of double-sided glass, there’s quite a lot to try to fit in, but I’m aiming to touch on many of these aspects in the short narratives that I’ll be putting across the windows.”
Rather than working solely from his own experience and imagination, Dave, working with Heather Lindsay of YWCA staff, has been sending out questionnaires to the various users of the building – the staff, business users, cafe people and the residents – asking them what home means to them.
“I prefer to work with other people’s ideas. I’ll start with a very rough idea of what I want to say, which in this case shaped the questionnaire, but I’ll then let it go out into the world a little, and see what comes back. I’ve had some great responses for this project, many of them quite surprising, and these are shaping the exhibition in ways that I wouldn’t have considered if I’d just sat in my studio by myself thinking about it. It’s a wonderful way of working.”
Dave has previously combined improvisation and comics at last year’s International Comic Art Festival, collaborating with Kendal Community Theatre, local photographers and members of the public for a day of photography, improvised acting and games. Material from that event will be used in the exhibition, and in a collection of short stories that will be launched in time for the Festival.
The exhibition will be installed on 3rd October, and will run through to the end of the festival (18th October). The Centre/cafe is normally open Monday – Friday, but will be open over the weekend of 17 – 18th October, in special comic art festival mode. (Expect comics-related cakes and other surprises!)
• For more about the 2015 Lakes International Comic Art Festival visit: www.comicartfestival.com
• Dave Crane’s website: http://improvisedcomics.co.uk
• Kendal YWCA: http://ywcakendal.org.uk