Blind Ditch


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Mobile media project exploring rural places & identities through the eyes of young people & their wider communities.

A Social practice project.

Rural Teignbridge & County Kildare
Find more videos, sounds and writing from VANLAND
VANLAND at Air Fusion, Newton Abbot 2006

It was the best media thing I’ve done in ages!

Jeremy, aged 15

We started out in on this creative journey with the young people of Teignbridge, Devon in 2004. We explored village hangouts, boundaries, local stories and hidden dens, without wifi, mobile phone technology or social media.


Mapping ideas on big pieces of newsprint in village halls and youth centres. We made PAL videos on mini dv tapes with garage band soundtracks. We edited slowly and collaboratively on an i-book G4 with a projector.


The young people led on the creative content, filming and editing the work, with help from us and team of associate film makers. Each film took around 4-6 days to complete from meeting the young people to delivering the DVD.


These are crazy visions of rural life, dreamed up from the young people’s experiences, frustrations and love of their home places. They roped in any adult willing to help them achieve the finished short. Each village project had it’s own distinct feel, from the grannies illegally trading Cheese in Dunsford, to the search for The Perfect Hole in Moretonhampstead, The Mystery of the Moor Mower in Widecombe, to the dystopian world of Milk Boy in Chudleigh. DIY props and a passion for the absurd made these worlds come alive in ways that we never anticipated.

Mobile Screenings


To share this work with the wider community we transformed a 1980’s touring caravan into a mobile cinema space. For three short years between 2004-06 the VANLAND caravan became an iconic visitor to the fields, fetes and parks of South Devon throughout the summer season. We bumped and scraped around country lanes and into fields that no tourist would dare to attempt – often helped by a man with a tractor.


VANLAND VisionsSwitch

Interviewing the older generation about their life in rural Teignbridge as part of VisionSwitch 2005. Background footage courtesy of the Devon Film Archive.

In 2005 we were approached by Teignbridge Rural Regeneration Partnership to run an exchange project with a young people’s media organisation in County Kildare, Eire. We made Thin Air with the young people of Ballitore, toured the caravan to Ireland, ran a music video making exchange with Irish young people on Dartmoor, and organised a celebratory sharing event with bands, live mixing, video screenings, and Devon archive footage sharing at Christow Village Hall.  The success of VisionSwitch and its impact on the young people involved earned us a Brussels Observatory Best Practice Award from the EU.

VANLAND Framing the Forest


In 2006 were were invited to expand our workshops to include work with women and people aged 55+ as part of Framing the Forest with the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World at Haldon Forest Park. You can have a look at the work we made together on our VANLAND vimeo channel. 

After the initial funding ended in 2007,  Blind Ditch continued to collaborate with a range of communities and organisations across Devon and Cornwall on projects exploring art film, documentary & video consultancy, issue based fiction and animation.

The VANLAND caravan is long retired, but you can still take a trip to Organic Arts at West Town Farm, Ide to see the it recycled into its new life as a workspace for Woofers.

Here’s a 24 minute documentary which captures our early VANLAND experience, and the views of the many people who contributed to its success.


VANLAND 2004-07 young people’s media project was produced by Blind Ditch and run with partnership support from Teignbridge District Council and Coombeshead College. It was funded and supported by the EAGGF of the EU, DEFRA, Arts Council England, Teignbridge Rural Regeneration Partnership & Teignbridge District Council.
Other funders and partners include: Village Screen – funded by Mediabox & The Department for Education and Skills Training,  Framing The Forest – in partnership with CCANW funded by TRRP and DEFRA.
Further VANLAND projects include:
BIAS – Seaton youth action consultancy – working with young people to  gather community views on a potential new skate park, commissioned by East Devon District Council.
The Pottery Films – commissioned by Bovey Youth Action funded by Heritage Lottery Young Roots.
Me,  Myself, I – A Young Persons’s Guide to the Care System – collaborating with looked after young people  to create an animated DVD guide for young people just entering the system, commissioned by The Children’s Society and Take Part Torbay.
Relay! – made in partnership with Plymouth Music Zone commissioned by Zest Health Arts & Devonport Regeneration Community Partnership.
Dream It Large! commissioned by The House in St Austell funded by Groundwork and the Terrance Higgins Trust.
The Woodland –  in partnership with Broadhempston Community Woodland and Devon Integration Support Services. Funded by First Light and nominated for a First Light best drama award 2012.
VANLAND awards and nominations include:

2012 The Woodland – shortlisted for a First Light award for Best Drama with a screening at Leicester Square, Odeon.
2008 Crossed Lines – wins Audience Award for Best Young Person’s Film at Two Short Nights Film Festival.
2007 VisionSwitch – wins Brussels Observatory Best Practice project as partners on the transnational exchange.
2007 The Perfect Hole – wins Best Young Person’s Film from Appledore Visual Arts Festival.
2007 VANLAND project – shortlisted for the Devon and Cornwall Media Innovation Awards.

Devised and delivered by Cat Radford, Paula Crutchlow, Volkhardt Müller and Daniel Harris from Blind Ditch with associate artist Tim Dollimore from Media Workshop and many visiting workshop faciliators.
The project would not have been possible without the help and support of Doff Pollard Arts Officer at Teignbridge District Council, Rae Hoole, Community Arts Officer at Coombeshead College and Phil Aubrey at Leader+ TRRP.
VANLAND 2004-07 young people’s media project was produced in partnership with Teignbridge District Council and Coombeshead College. It was funded and supported by the EAGGF of the EU, DEFRA, Arts Council England, Teignbridge Rural Regeneration Partnership & Teignbridge District Council.

2004-06 VANLAND workshops held in: Buckfastleigh, Newton Abbot, Moretonhampstead, Christow, Chudleigh, Dawlish, Dunsford, Exminster, Kingsteignton, Chudleigh Knighton.

2004-06 VANLAND caravan screening tour visited: TR2 Community Arts Conference in Plymouth, Lamb Pie Day in Buckfastleigh, Litfest Port Eliot, Moretonhampstead Carnival, Rixey Park Tractor and Machinery Country Fair, Hennock Country Fair, Bovey Tracey Carnival, Party in the Park in Chudleigh, Kingsteignton Youth Club, CCANW in Haldon Forest, Chudleigh Knighton Summer Fayre, Exminster School Fete, Airfusion Newton Abbott, Maker Festival Plymouth, Manaton Show & Fair, Big Picnic in Haldon Forest, Dawlish Carnival, Christow Show, Lustleigh Show, 9 Days of Art at Organic Arts in Ide, Anti-static Festival – Taunton, Motion Plymouth Festival.

2005-06 VISIONSWITCH events: Ballitore 24th – 31st July 2005 Blind Ditch VANLAND workshops with young people in Ballitore, County Kildare, Eire to make Thin Air. Oct 27th 2005 Time Trip, Christow Village Hall, Dartmoor. County Kildare Caravan Screening Tour 8th-10th February half term exchange trip – Young people from Teignbridge visit Ballitore in County Kildare for film making workshops and general fun. 8-11 Feb 2006 Old Town Hall car park, Newbridge, ClaneAthy Dominican HallOutside the library, Ballitore. 17 Feb 2006 7pm VisionSwitch Red Carpet Screening at the Shaftesbury Theatre, Dawlish.

2006 Framing the Forest: Film making workshops and events with women, older people and young people at the Centre for Contemporary Art and the Natural World, Haldon Forest Park

Cinema and event screenings of VANLAND films: 5 Sept. 2005 Teignmouth Film and Cine Club, 19 Sept. 2006 Manhatton Short Film Festival, Exeter Phoenix. 19 Nov 2006 Vanland Wrap Party, Shaftesbury Theatre, Dawlish. 21 Nov 2006 Framing the Forest screening CCANW Haldon Forest Park. 6 Dec 2006 Two Short Nights, Exeter Crossed Lines, Funkenstein, The Bridesmaid and more showing at the Young Film-makers Screening, 15 Dec. 2006 Bovey Tracey The Potter’s Key and the Heritage Pottery Project Documentary showing as part of an evening exhibition hosted by Bovey Youth Action at 7pm, Bovey Tracey Town Hall, Bovey Tracey. 1 Dec. 2008 My House showing as part of View From Here young people’s screening. 7pm, Carlton Theatre, Teignmouth. 29-31 May. 2008 screening of Funkenstein, Appledore Visual Art’s Festival, North Devon.

Presentations and sharings: 

13 Oct 2004 All Aboard, Community Council of Devon, Social Inclusion Conference, Okehampton.

25 October 2004 Quality of Life Conference, Leader+ Observatory Contact Point, Brussels.

9 Feb 2005 Getting into Film and TV symposium, Exeter Phoenix Media Centre.

21 April 2005 Presentation at the Viewing in Alternative Spaces Panel, Interfaces Between Theory and Practice Film Symposium organised by the University of Exeter.

22 September 2005 NALGAO Arts Workers Conference, The Quay, Exeter. 17 Feb 2006 Devon Arts Forum, Dartington College of Arts, Totnes.