Blank Canvas

Community • 2011 - 2018

About Blank Canvas

Blank Canvas was an intergenerational group based at Turner Contemporary. The group, consisting of around 40 members, brought together people of all ages to share, ask questions, be curious, support each other, inspire, imagine and embrace the unexpected through art.

Ran in partnership with artist Lucy Steggals, the group engaged with experimental creativity as well as longer term projects, and milestone activities included producing exhibitions, and a European cultural exchange programme.

The group

Prior to the opening of the gallery building, the group was initially brought together as Time of Our Lives, an award winning intergenerational project led by artist Lucy Steggals and developed in partnership with BBC Radio Kent, Kent Youth Service and University of Kent’s School of Engineering and Digital Arts. Time of Our Lives enabled participants to explore what it means to be a teenager, both now and in the past, and was influential in the development of the major exhibition Nothing in the World But Youth in 2011

Following the success of the project, the group renamed themselves Blank Canvas and evolved, embracing their intergenerational ambitions. Participants took ownership of the group, over the years having a combination of weekly facilitated activities with Lucy and other artists, and self-directed sessions. They had the opportunity to respond to exhibitions, work on their own longer term projects as well as to socialise and develop their individual practices.

What blank canvas means to me – Friendship, fun, laughter, a challenge, pushing boundaries and imagination, being given the change to meet artists, try different art styles and do things I would never in a million years have tried to do.

Blank Canvas member

Project Highlights:

  • In 2010, the group were brought together for the first time for intergenerational project Time of Our Lives.
  • Over the years the group were involved in digital photography, filmmaking and animation, craft workshops, drawing, archiving, creating exhibitions and more.
  • In 2011 the group agreed to create an artwork to celebrate the opening of the gallery building: Etagram, which took the form of a large wall drawing and fanzine. Etagram was an imaginary landscape inspired by Margate, with elements of the past, present and future sitting alongside each other, and highlighting the groups hopes and fears for the town.
  • Alongside meeting and creating work, Blank Canvas regularly made cultural visits to exhibitions across the UK, as well as some trips to Europe. As part of the exchange programme ETNA (Exploring Technologies and New approaches in Art Education for Adults), funded by Grundtvig European Commission, members of the group visited Bulgaria, Belgium and Germany. This project enabled older people to use digital media and make connections with peers abroad, and aimed to decrease isolation, enhance quality of life and increase social activity. In June 2013 Blank Canvas welcomed 40 older people from Germany, Poland, The Czech Republic, Belgium and Bulgaria to the gallery.
  • From autumn 2014, Blank Canvas worked with various artists across disciplines to explore a mysterious fictional character from Margate named Mr. Lion. The project culminated in a multimedia exhibition in the Foyle Room corridor in 2015.

I live on my own and it’s a way of connecting to people. I have made some really lovely friends out of it, just wonderful relationships that I really wouldn’t have made otherwise. People who, in my daily life, I wouldn’t meet as our paths wouldn’t have crossed.

Sharon Lowe, Blank Canvas Member

Blank Canvas Gallery