BLINK: inspired by the Huguenot story

Hi I’m Kat, and I’m one of the young producers from Medway who worked on BLINK: an exciting interactive walk through experience which explored peace in the UK, with the grand finale landing on Sheerness. BLINK was made up of five giant eyes, and each eye represented an area; Dewsbury, Stoke, Peterborough and Medway + Swale. Our goal was to create an interactive art piece that reflected Medway + Swale’s rich relationship with peace and to celebrate it within our eye.

In order to achieve this, we wanted to explore the local areas strong connection with water. The River Medway and the sea has greatly influenced how our local towns are shaped today, and we wanted to discover what stories of peace were intertwined in this.

This led us to the Huguenot Museum, where we explored the history of the first refugees to come to England. When you enter the Museum, the first thing you see is a painting of people desperately trying to get off boats in a stormy sea. The Huguenot Museum does a lot of work with refugees, and I was so alarmed to hear that when some of the refugees see the painting, their stories are reflected within it. This really moved me as it shows nothing has changed. The hardship people endured all those years ago is still a very real part of people’s experiences today. I felt if we were able to help people understand this, then we could help to change perceptions. This had a profound impact on all of us as producers and we knew it had to be integral in the creation of our eye.

“Inspired by the water and stories that flow around the Isle of Sheppey to Swale and Medway beyond. This land has sheltered populations in pursuit of peace, from the Huguenots seeking refuge in the 17th century through to their 21st century counterparts”

We commissioned local artist Natasha Steer to help us achieve our vision. Our eye involved people working together in the space to create a boat from boxes. Each box represented something that you could choose to take with you on your journey, from security, to clothing, to friendship. We felt that this would be an effective way for people to consider what would be important to them when embarking on a journey, and it would hopefully encourage people to reflect on those people who have had to do it.

The turnout for BLINK was incredible, with over 400 people attending of all different ages and backgrounds. For some, it was their first time attending any kind of art event and it was quite powerful hearing about people’s experiences on the night. It was a really exciting project to be a part of because it gave us a platform to voice our views and reflect on peace within our area, whilst being a part of a bigger national movement. It was a proud moment to be able to bring something of this scale to Sheerness, which was completely free and accessible to everyone. Thanks to the Huguenot Museum for being our inspiration!

December 2019