Across the UK, the arts are beginning to bounce back after one of the most challenging times in living memory. Scripts are being dusted off, creative folk are getting back into gear… So what better time for Chester to grasp the nettle, be bold, and create a programme of revitalising events for spring 2022. Welcome to Refresh.
Refresh is a sparkling new showcase of work by artists, makers, actors and writers as well as a chance for communities to come together to create and experience new work. A brilliant smorgasbord of free workshops, performances, networking events and exhibitions, Refresh is inspired by the fabric of Chester, its evocative Rows, and its remarkable people.
Watch or take part in Refresh. The choice is yours. Check out the programme highlights below. It’s going to be a busy few months. But boy, does it feel good to be back.
Artist Estelle Woolley’s wearable garment sculptures and Rachel Davies and Cheshire College students textile installations will be appearing in city centre shop windows; an exhibition of ceramicist Simone Cobbold’s Friendship Bowls made with Chester communities; six new short stories inspired by Chester’s Rows will be published in a ‘zine for the Rows; new dramatic monologues created by Cestrians at workshops with actor and writer Janys Chambers will be performed on the Rows; there’ll be a performance of Storm in the North’s Idlib in Lache and in the city centre; Facing North’s Seahorse is performed by Lane Paul Stewart with the help of young people; a new climate conversation performance for Chester by John Young and Chester communities will be revealed in the Rows and at Chester Cathedral on Saturday 12th March and the cathedral is home to Once a Desert, a stunning new immersive projection work by artists Heinrich and Palmer from 10th-13th March.
The Missing Building – Neuza Morais and the children of Chester
Saturday 19th February – Friday 18th March
CASC Gallery, The Forum Shopping Centre, Chester
Mon/Wed/Sat 10am-4pm Fri 12-6pm
FREE – no booking required
What’s the one building Chester’s missing? Architect Neuza Morais asked primary school children from schools across Chester the question. This exhibition reveals their incredibly creative and thought-provoking answers. Don’t miss this glimpse into the future.
Idlib by Storm in the North
Friday 25th February
Lache Community Centre, Chester at 3pm & Garden Lane Church, Garden Lane, Chester at 7.30pm
FREE – ticket required
‘Idlib’ is an extract from the award-winning play The Syrian Baker by Kevin Dyer, performed live by the amazing Paislie Reid, followed by a friendly, relaxed writing session exploring your own food experiences and memories – there’s no need to have written before, everyone’s welcome!
There’ll also be a very special food experience for participants – beautiful Syrian bread cooked before your very eyes, accompanied by a tasting of three delicious Middle Eastern mezzes.
To book your tickets for Lache Community Centre email firstname.lastname@example.org
To book tickets for Garden Lane Church https://bit.ly/3uTPKQ0
Once a Desert by Heinrich & Palmer
Wednesday 9th March, 6.30-10pm (last admission 9.30pm)
Thursday 10th March, 7.30-10pm (last admission 9.30pm)
Saturday 12th March, 6.30-10pm (last admission 9.30pm)
Chester Cathedral, St Werburgh Street, Chester, CH1 2DY
FREE – just drop in
Chester Cathedral is the venue for Once a Desert, a stunning large-scale video, sound and light installation created especially for this magnificent space by artists Heinrich & Palmer.
Filling the majestic interior of the cathedral with a 17.5m-high voile hanging from its vaulted ceiling, Once a Desert uses high speed film and animated point cloud imagery created from 3D laser scans of the cathedral to produce an awe-inspiring work of art accompanied by a mesmerizing soundscape.
The installation harks back to a time when the rock used to construct the Cathedral was laid down in the Triassic period, 200 million years ago, when this country was a desert lying to the south of the Sahara.
Once a Desert is an ethereal journey that celebrates the history and geology of this ancient space, revealing the cathedral as it’s never been seen before.
The Rows – a Journey through Time
Saturday 12th March, 2.30pm
Set off from Eastgate Clock Tower, Chester, CH1 1LE
The trail should last approx. 90 minutes and will end on Northgate Street by H Samuel
FREE – booking required
A walking trail with added drama!
Follow in the footsteps of Chester people from the past – some real, some imagined – in this outdoor trail around the Rows. Short, vivid, first person monologues are performed by Chester residents, ordinary folk who bring the past alive for us today.
Eavesdrop on the last woman to be burnt at the stake in Chester as she embarks on her grisly business; feel the pain of those who lived through the civil war and the siege of Chester; watch as the visit of a prime minister inspires a suffragette to act…
Hear the echoes of their voices through the ages. Fleeting moments in ordinary lives. Stand by as the Rows give up their secrets. These monologues have all been created by everyday people from Chester at writing workshops with actor, director and writer Janys Chambers.
On Saturday 12th March, catch ‘A Climate Conversation’ created by Chester groups and director John Young on the Rows at noon and 1pm and as part of Once a Desert in Chester Cathedral at 7pm, 8pm & 9pm.
Saturday Girl About Town with Casey Orr
Saturday 12th March, 12noon-4pm
Watergate Street Gallery, 60-62 Watergate St, Chester CH1 2LA
FREE – no booking required, just drop-in
Don your best Saturday glad rags and pop into the award-winning pop-up portrait studio of international photographer Casey Orr. The best Saturday girl images will be shown in the city centre later in March.