I’ve been to Ramsgate many times, but as with all places, I see something new every time I visit. To see beyond the obvious facade of everyday life, its structures and its seeming banalities, to see the potential for beauty and impact, is, for me, the thrill of photography.

I snap, yes, to catch the moment of light, shadow, tone, or form. No set-up or pre-planning for me. But through considered editing and the push and pull of my limited knowledge of the tools at my disposal, I draw out what I knew was there before I could technically ‘see’ it. I hope you enjoy them!

These photos were taken with a Nikon D5100 / 18-140mm Nikon lens and edited with Adobe Photoshop

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Prague is a bit like Amsterdam in the sense that it is an exceedingly beautiful city, but the kind of place you’re usually too wasted to really appreciate. Until recently I had not been to Prague, and with three hours to spare at the airport I quizzed my new temporary drinking companion, a lovely old Irishman named Mick, about his experience of the city. Sadly he only remembered a glimpse of it from the boot of a car – having been there on the ubiquitous stag do – but assured me that the momentary glimpse was a very pretty one. Stag do’s and tourist groups appear to make up the majority of the population of Prague in the city centre, the former marching around in full get-up; roaring, singing and swigging unidentifiable coloured spirits. The tourists loved it, and the kitschness of the spectacle actually tallied quite nicely with the mountains of tourist tat we had to orienteer through as we crossed the bridge into the Old Town. These various social interactions take place against a Disney backdrop of Bavarian-esque pink turrets and gold spires. Looking down a street at dusk I could’ve been marching headlong into the Magic Kingdom.

But I’m being deliberately disparaging of course. For those of you snorting with derision at my plebeian misunderstanding of this cultural centre I assure you, I did love it. Warts and all – because none of the above is a lie.

It is merely a wonderfully delicious contrast to the whole of the city outside of that square mile; enhancing the stupendous, visceral impact of an architecturally patchwork landscape reflecting centuries of shifting political and economic change in a remarkably extravagant manner. That is to say, the buildings are bloody lovely.

The following photos were taken on a Nikon D5100 with 18-140mm lens and edited using Adobe Photoshop.













(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (4)

After a lengthy period in the proverbial pipeline, Dartford Arts Network’s Dartford Assembly project is finally seeing fruition, springing up over a mad 2 weeks and birthing from its project management cocoon a beautiful mass of visual art for public delectation.

Conceived nearly two years ago, the central aim of the project was initially to kill two very significant birds with one stone: to provide a vehicle through which local artists could publicly display their artworks in the town, and to deliver a project which greatly enhanced the aesthetics of Lowfield Street in Dartford (which has been boarded up with hoardings for over a decade) for the general public.

Dartford Arts Network (the local arts network which I co-founded and of which I am Chair) was still in its early inception stages at that point and learning how to produce such a major project as we went along was a huge hurdle to overcome. Thankfully, we received some financial support from the council to make the project happen, but the logistical planning was immense; the time spent on design, artist liaison, landowner and council consultation, material production and site planning was overwhelming. All this was produced with a small group of local artist volunteers, each of whom was trying to (variously); do their day job, have babies, raise babies, have a life and do their own artwork. To say we are incredibly proud of, and grateful to, everyone who contributed, is an understatement.

13 individual artists contributed, as well as art students at North West Kent College, children at The Bridge Primary Community School, and 10 members of the public who produced collage and monoprint works at the public workshops we held last summer at One Bell Corner.

We have had overwhelmingly positive responses from the public, who are generally delighted to see such a wide variety of local art on public display.

I hold a firm belief in the power of art; as regenerator, motivator, and as inspirer. To lift the spirit of a community and create a sense of belief and communal optimism takes more than just physical rebuilding or looking backwards to what once was. It takes beauty and reflection; it takes recognising how much (sometimes unseen) talent and potential is already present in the area and how those resources can be nurtured and used alongside retail and development to draw interest to our town.

This is the first major public art exhibition in Dartford and I am confident it is only the beginning.

Our next project – Plastic Fantastic – is already underway. After winning a grant from Ellandi, the owners of the Priory Centre, to produce a sculpture for the community addressing the issues of sustainability and plastic waste, we will be holding workshops in September to encourage members of the public to contribute to the construction and design. See our website for more details on the project and how to get involved.

Contact us at @dartfordarts / hello@darfordartsnetwork.com / www.dartfordartsnetwork.com

(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (6)(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (5)

(c) Matt Fox Photography (2)

(c) Matt Fox Photography

(c) Jeremy Moseley Photography (2)

(c) Jeremy Moseley Photography

(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (7)

(c) Matt Fox Photography (3)

(c) Matt Fox Photography

(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (2)(c) Kate Withstandley Photography (1)

(c) Jeremy Moseley Photography

(c) Jeremy Moseley Photography

(c) Matt Fox Photography (1)

(c) Matt Fox Photography

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Something unexpected has happened. I’ve managed to get my own exhibition; yes me! On for a month at the Peter Blake Gallery in Dartford Library.

The show is called Moment because, well, what do you call an exhibition? I took the same tact I take with naming the pieces (and why some of them seem rather random), which is to think of words and phrases which instinctively come to mind in relation to my viewing of them, and go with the one which makes a vague bit of sense in the knockings of my consciousness.

So, Moment. It does encapsulate the process in which I produce photographs, the emphasis being on curious composition and striking detail rather than technical perfection. This set of images were all taken impromptu; no set up or endless test shots, but the capture of a moment in time which struck me as being beautiful in some way.

I get enjoyment from seeing beauty in the mundane. A photo of an unusually shaped water stain will often be far more enduring to me than a traditional landscape scene which may be more obviously pretty. I try to convey my own sense of pleasure at seeing these odd things, through capturing them in a shot.

That’s not to say I don’t use outside influences. Although the shots aren’t set up as such, I do use photoshop to edit them to my particular liking. A crop here, up a level there. These tweaks can turn a drab detail into a captivating one. I consider it a skill in itself to be able to spot the potential in a seemingly discardable image.

This set of images are only linked by my use of this process of immediacy. In every other way they are a varied mix of subject matter, style, colour and tone. But I like it that way. I feel that it reflects both me as a personality and the way in which I view the world around me.

If you would like to visit the exhibition it is showing at the Peter Blake Gallery in Dartford Library until 10th June – Opening hours and directions here. Or join us at the private view Thursday 19th May at 6.30pm where there will be some drinks and nibbles.

Here’s a selection of some of the works on show.

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Human beings produce a lot of useless and often ugly crap. So when you come across something which is both functionally beautiful and aesthetically stimulating, it provides an interesting subject to photograph.

These images are part of a series detailing the working elements of a backstage management system at a theatre in Leicester. I have deliberately lost the clarity of purpose in order to focus on the images as visually abstract works.

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Invert mindful

Close your eyes. Back straight, arms relaxed. Start at the toes. It’s quite difficult to feel your toes without moving them. Are they really there? There’s one; the very tip of my little toe hardly pressing at all on the inside of my boot, but pressing nonetheless. My heel. I feel that. Even as I sit, weight supported on the train seat, I am aware of my heel. The innate pressure of gravity on my leg pushing out through the bottom of my foot. The floor. I am aware of the floor. Pushing upwards to meet my foot. Solid, so as to stop my foot from pushing down through it. The balance in the battle for up and down reaching its terminal velocity; a harmonious point of mutual agreement. Foot stops – floor stops. My leg. How did I not notice before, the cold breeze washing over my jeans, seeping through to my skin. That tingling feeling. Not cold, but almost pin and needley. What is that? It’s in my feet too a little. Is that always there? Knees. I’ve never noticed before how much they stick out when you sit down. My jeans feel tight across them; a second skin. Arms. Resting heavily on my thighs; another stopping point. Gravity pushing down on them like invisible hands. Chest. The constant rise and fall inevitable and expected. Unmanaged and unchecked. It just is. I just am. I am.

Damn. Missed my stop.

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It’s so easy to lose track of yourself. To find yourself morphing into a different type of person with whom you have little in common. Someone who doesn’t look – who doesn’t see the beautiful shapes in a ripped piece of wallpaper, or notice the startling effect of light and shadow cast on a busy pavement. You can very quickly become part of the melee who walk over them, heavy footsteps smashing the composition blindly. But that’s part of what I love about myself. Part of what makes me proud to be me. I notice these things. I find them more beautiful and interesting than most artworks in a gallery. The beauty of man-made nature. The stuff which is so natural to us it may as well be placed in the same category as trees and plants; concrete, tarmac, trains, windows, pavements and doors, shopfront reflections, burnt edges, peeling paint. They’re everywhere. The fact that others don’t notice them gives me a little rush, it makes me feel as if I’ve been treated to a personal glimpse of something. Like the children in the Narnia stories who see the portal to the other world, while others around them see nothing but a wall. My experience isn’t that dramatic of course but it has that same special feeling. It brings me joy. Sometimes I can stand at the edge of the tube platform and see so much beauty and art in form and shape that it makes my heart full. The other side of this coin is when I don’t see it. When my heart is sad and my eyes are down. When I look at the wall and see only degradation and the need for a paint job. I’ve been feeling like that recently and stopped seeing the beauty. But today I saw it again and it’s as stunning as ever.