Wars During My Lifetime, Canterbury

wars during my lifetime

wars during my lifetime

Performances: Saturday 21 September 2013
11:00 Dane John Gardens
12:30 Whitefriars
14:00 24 Burgate

In a time when war is still being waged around the world a Peace Pavement in our Cathedral City of Canterbury strikes a note of hope. It is now twenty years since the European Peace Pavement was installed in Dane John Gardens and it continues to be a contemporary cultural focus for international visitors to Canterbury. To mark this anniversary it has been refurbished and will be re-launched on International Peace Day 21 September with a new artist’s commission by Martin John Callanan and related events.

A performance of Callanan’s Wars During my Lifetime will occur at sites throughout the city on Saturday 21, starting in the Peace Pavement at 11am.

An installation at 24 Burgate from 21st September to 6th October will further extend ‘Wars During my Lifetime’. It will be accompanied by a free newspaper publication, which will be distributed on the day and during the installation at various city sites including: Waterstones, Dane John Gardens Kiosk, the Cathedral Shop, Saffron Cafe, La Trappiste, Cafe St Pierre, Rymans, Browns Coffee House, Tesco, University Creative Arts, University of Kent, Christ Church University, Royal Museum and Art Gallery,

The Peace Pavement is situated at the Bus Station end of Dane John Gardens. This events are free and open to all.

The United Nations International Peace Day is observed around the world on 21st September each year.

The Peace Pavement was a collaborative project led by curator Sandra Drew involving ten European countries whose cities were bombed, like Canterbury, during recent wars. Each artist came to Canterbury and carved a York paving stone donated by Canterbury City Council. It was opened by John Drummond, director of the European Arts Festival on April 13, 1993.

The refurbishment and new artist’s commission has been organised by Sandra Drew and Sandra Pearson and funded by Canterbury City Council, St Mildred’s Area Community Society (SMACS).

Lab for Culture: At Home in Europe overview


“The project invites selected artists to think about what it means to be European and what it means to have a particular nationality in the light of the shifting boundaries within Europe. Daily more and more European people decide to live in other European countries. With a shifting concept of nationalities it becomes increasingly important to consider what it means to be European.” (At Home in Europe Project)

Established through the process of differentiation toward the other, it has been reshaped in relation to changes in the environment, i.e. social, political, cultural or economic changes etc. The process of differentiation and identity transformations in the individual or collective sphere, on national or European levels, were depicted as artworks that formed the programme “At Home in Europe”.


Designed to meet the current need for mobility, to enable cross border connectivity and empower professional and cultural exchange, the “At Home in Europe” programme was developed using four main activities:

  • Production residencies for artists (took place during January to July 2007)
  • Selection of the films for the screening programme in the Big M (February 2007)
  • The Big M European tour: screening at a mobile venue (May to September 2007)
  • The publication and DVD, which sum up the outcomes of the project

The activities were followed or preceded by four working meetings of the coorganisers, each of which took place in one of four participating countries.


Four artists, selected for their reflection on the project theme and the creative use of new technologies, spent three months in one of four participating organisations (InterSpace –Anya Lewin, UK; RIXC- Martin John Callanan, UK; BEK – Kriss Salmanis, Latvia; ISIS –Borjana Ventzislavova, Bulgaria).

Dislocated from their countries of origin/residence, they were in the position to quickly grasp the new environment and to give feedback to a framework question: “What is culturally European and what is culturally national when viewed from within Europe but outside a national experience.” Digital artworks, done in the form of video/sound/internet/or interactive art, are also available through blogs as a document of the work-in-progress.

To stimulate exchange of ideas and interaction with local communities, each artist had an opportunity to present her/his work, and to do a workshop for young people.

Big M

Co-curated screening programme in the Big M, focused on moving image culture. This project consisted of 16 short video works selected by the coorganisers on the basis of the international call. The video works thematised the notion of “European Identity” by posing the question “Can we ever really be At Home in Europe?”. They tracked the phenomenon of moving through different identities in the melting pot of contemporary Europe. The digests of the films are encompassed in pdf “Leaflet_at_home_in Europe” (see attached document).

Big M Tour

The Big M European screening tour was shown at festivals and public sites in Sofia, Stockholm, Bergen, Riga, Newcastle Upon Tyne, and Berwick upon Tweed during May-September 2007. Designed as inflatable structures equipped for presentation of video and digital media, The Big M provided a sight that blended different artistic surveys in the one cross cultural narrative. This attractive mobile venue brought an air of moving image festivity to the city squares across Europe tempting an audience to come inside, experience its content, and reflect on “What it means to be European?”.

“In Sofia we had on average each day around 1,000 people visiting the venue and a great deal of local press, television and radio coverage.” (Sharon Bailey, Co Director ISIS Arts)

Publication and DVD

The publication and DVD summarise the results of the project. The book (written in the four languages of the partners) includes essays on the project process, on the artists’ works, and on the issue of European identity. DVD includes media-based artworks that were part of the “At Home in Europe” programme.


Four partner organisations cooperated in this one-year project, all of them with the same professional orientation (working in the field of media arts), but from countries with different socio-political and cultural backgrounds (e.g. UK – established EU member; Latvia – recent EU member; Bulgaria – entered EU in January 2007; and Norway – decided against EU membership). This diversity provided a start up for transnational settings, but assured the variety of cross cultural approaches to the theme. International calls for artists were widely distributed.


The project “At Home in Europe” was funded by the European Commission, Culture 2000 Fund, and Arts Council England.