The Rise of Maidstone United
Spreading the joy of books and reading
Clients: Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone United Football Club and MidKent College with funding from Arts Council England
Artists: Mark Barnes, Accidental Collective, Malcolm Glover, Steve Tasane and Ed Thompson
The Kent History and Library Centre, Maidstone United Football Club and MidKent College joined forces to tell the story of Maidstone’s football team and to spread the word about the enjoyment you can get from books and reading.
With support from arts organisation FrancisKnight , artists were commissioned to produce a limited edition book, an exhibition, and a performance which all told the story of the football club. The project set out to share the excitement of this story with the whole community to help capture an historic moment for posterity.
The artists included writer Steve Tasane, photographer Malcolm Glover, performance company Accidental Collective and illustrator Mark Barnes. Documentary photographer Ed Thompson also worked with first and second year media students from MidKent College, introducing them to professional practice in photography.
The wider project included a programme of football-inspired events and activities for all the family at the state-of-the-art Kent History and Library Centre and the new Gallagher Stadium, home of Maidstone United Football Club.
Writer’s Commission Steve Tasane
Steve Tasane is an experienced writer, with a current 3-book deal writing Young Adult fiction for Walker Books. He has worked with communities, collaborating with members of the public , local writers and taken part in writing residencies.
Residencies have included 2012 Dickens Bicentennial, My Old China celebrating the Lambeth Walk and Battersea Dogs Home.
Steve worked closely with photographer Malcolm Glover to capture the various aspects of Maidstone United.
‘My main interest is in producing work that is accessible to people, and brings a non-traditional readership to fiction. Football has its own unique language, and every fan is a natural born storyteller. The heroic ups and downs of the club is a natural framework for the story of Maidstone and its people, and its history links generation to generation in a way which demands its own narrative’.
Steve attended matches, chatted informally with fans and MUFC staff, conducting lengthy recorded interviews with key individuals. He collated archive material for research/visuals and wrote the text for the book.
Photographer’s Commission Malcolm Glover
Malcolm Glover is a documentary photographer whose work encompasses diverse communities and subjects in their urban and rural environments. He also works with digital technology to produce large-scale constructed panoramic prints.
He has exhibited widely around the U.K including the National Portrait Gallery, Corner house, Photofusion, the Towner Gallery and the Independent Photographers Gallery.
Malcolm worked closely with writer Steve Tasane to capture the various aspects of Maidstone United.
‘What excites me, as a photographer about the subject matter is not only the game itself but also the associated events that occur and play themselves out alongside the main event. The fans play such an important role within any football club and I feel their involvement within the amateur league is more evident than within the professional leagues. There is more contact between the spectators, players, staff and management’.
Student Engagement - Maria Coombes
FrancisKnight worked closely with Mid Kent College Aspire to develop student engagement opportunities using the project as a live brief for students to develop their photographic skills. Photographer Ed Thompson worked with first and second year Media students, introducing them to photography and providing some hands on experience.
Maria Coombes, a second year student really embraced the opportunity to work with Ed and produced some credible black & white images that beautifully frame and capture the poetic nature to football.
"Its been great working with Ed, he has taught me a lot of useful photography techniques that I know will help me through my photography career and given me confidence in my ability." Maria Coombes
MidKent College Aspire was also involved in the branding of the project through MAD Creative, a design agency set up to give creative students the chance to gain experience within the commercial world of design.
Michael Smith, Managing Director of MKC Aspire Ltd added, “The opportunities for MidKent College students to get involved were excellent, the quality of the experience for those who did get involved was very significant.”
Illustrator Commission - Mark Barnes
Mark Barnes is an illustrator, writer and graphic designer specialising in humorous, narrative illustration. His influences are varied but stem from a lifelong love of comics, newspaper cartoons and mid-twentieth century commercial art. As a lifelong comics fan, Mark wishes that stories were as quick and effortless to draw as they are to read.
Mark was commissioned to be the illustrator/documentor for The Rise of Maidstone United, his work was also published in the final book as well as helping in the process to document the journey of the project.
Working from a draft of Steve’s manuscript he pieced together eight stories, contrasting the factual information with a visual quip to illuminate some of the ‘you-couldn’t-make-this-stuff-up’ moments from the team’s lively history. Through the process he developed great respect for the legion of dedicated MUFC fans.
Performance Commission Accidental Collective
Accidental Collective is an interdisciplinary performance company based in Kent comprised of Daisy Orton and Pablo Pakula. They create innovative work that engages with people and places. Their work is always generous, participatory and visually striking – it has both a big heart and a strong mind.
For the Rise of Maidstone United, Accidental Collective presented They think it’s all over… as an interactive exchange.
They turned the comments fans shared with them into colourful postcards, they carried mini-football pitch trays and invited fans to listen to some of the mini-stories they had recorded, they also asked supporters to write down a wish for the club and release it skyward on a yellow balloon. As a parting gift they gave fans each a small piece of a larger puzzle, because for them MUFC is more than the sum of its parts.