The Beaney in Canterbury’s City Centre always showcases a range of art installations free of charge to the public. Currently the installation on display are artworks curated by London based artist and illustrator Kremena Dimitrova in response to women during the First World War. The installation is titled ‘Beyond War - Visualising Peace: Artists Respond to the Armistice of 1918’. It involves many pieces by Dimitrova herself and other artists, of multiple forms that depict the roles and attitudes towards women at the time and abstract paintings derived from the theme of peace itself.
At first glance you will notice that the artworks in The Front Room are split into two sections. On your left you will see works from Dimitrova that are placed around the room. This compels the viewer to explore the entire space as they admire and read through her work. She usually takes inspiration from historical events and vintage art which is clearly demonstrated in the art style of visual collages chosen to depict the armistice of 1918. She additionally utilizes a relative comic book style of painting and caption on the canvas, using an intriguing art style to portray characters, with a running narrative across the room. Also, on this side of the room is a large white board that encourages members of the public, mainly children, to write on. They are given the chance to describe what they want to be when they grow up, encompassing the notion of women protesting to work jobs made for men whilst they were at war and the idea that you can be anything you want to be. Some wanting to be doctors or writers and others taking more creative approaches in wanting to be “the first lesbian to assassinate a president”. Kids.
The right-hand side showcases art depicted from other selected Kent artists in many forms in their response to peace and memorials. One piece by Robert Nye is an eye-catching acrylic painting titled ‘Untitled’. It features a pair of canvases with muted oranges and greys to reproduce the sentiments of despair and defeat but in the lighter regions, a glimmer of hope.
A more contemporary outlook on the theme features the very vibrant and colourful chakra points, oil and gesso on a canvas by Catherine Digman titled ‘Inner Peace’. This work outlines how practices of yoga and meditation are becoming more popular in today’s culture and finding peace within a turbulent society.
The works are clearly curated with much thought, involving multi-media aspects projected onto the wall and a television screen which thematically ties the room together for the ultimate sensory experience.
To see more of Kremena’s work she can be found on Instagram @kremenadimitrovaillustration