Dickens News Project at CoolTan Arts
During 2012-2013 CoolTan Arts worked with a group of participants and volunteers to create The Dickens News project – an original newspaper and exhibition series which explored Southwark’s heritage through the prism of Charles Dickens and his early life.
Exhibitions were held at The Cuming Museum, Southwark Cathedral, Morley Gallery and The Charles Dickens Museum. Original artworks celebrated the life and work of Charles Dickens, with a contemporary creative twist and social comment to boot!
The Dickens News newspaper was produced in partnership with The Southwark News and published on Thursday 8th November 2012. Articles, poetry and illustration explored Dickens early years and compared and contrasted society and social issues in Dickensian and modern day London.
Experiences in Southwark inspired Dickens’ work. He spent his early years in Lant Street and his father was imprisoned for debt in Marshalsea prison. Later, a major theme in his work was social injustice and the enslavement of disadvantaged children and adults. Dickens experienced personal mental distress, also spending time visiting asylums and writing about the inhumanity of treatment by restraint.
Dickens work reflected the hardship experienced in Victorian London. The project looked at Dickensian poverty, homelessness, substance abuse, prostitution and the great recycling industry of London’s poor and told the histories of those excluded and without a voice.
Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund this project provided opportunities for CoolTan Arts’ participants and volunteers to gain some of the skills necessary for creating a publication. Workshops included oral history, story-telling, creative writing, archiving and journalism.
Artwork was created in a variety of different mediums including painting, drawing photography and textiles.
Read the Dickens News Newspaper online here:
The CoolTan Arts video group documented the project in the following film: