Festival Finale

19 May

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With a touch of sadness, songs, guitars, words and bicycles that lit up, the Swindon Festival of Literature 2014 came to a typically unique close.

Guitarist Richard Durrant opened proceedings with works by Paraguayan composer Agustin Barrios, his intricate plucking courtesy of a local nail bar.

Durrant’s music and visuals set the scene perfectly for the sell out Town Hall audience . Richard has an ongoing bicycle opus as he tours the country in the saddle with his music and equipment packed alongside.

He next treated the capacity crowd to ‘Gravity Bikes’ a sort of prog-rock ‘Tubular Spokes’ full of atmospherics and some innovative use of bike percussion.

Spoken word artist Hollie McNish has been selling out venues all over the country with her tales of Grandma’s, biscuit tins and breast-feeding in public and she played to a similarly full venue in Swindon.

The first half closed with a story from Cat Weatherill, for adults this time about ears made of wood and noses made of wood and teeth that came out and a moral at the end.

Poet AF Harrold immediately brought his own brand of weird to part two with a tale of a poem about iced buns which got him ejected from a Gregg’s Bakers in Havant, haven’t we all had that happen some time?

He then invited the audience to choose from a set of numbered poems as he used his rapid fire wit to keep the banter going. Then there are bears in hives stealing honeycombs to do their hair with and all that entails and a couple of songs to finish off.

By then we needed another story and were not disappointed as Cat Weatherill took to the stage again.

But the last night of the festival always has a surprise or two and this time the first came in the form of some Festival demise misery clowning from Maria and Nuria, two of the current residents at Lower Shaw Farm. Everything depended on their wheel barrow full of props for the next five minutes.

Festival Director Matt Holland described them as having arrived and made sure that ‘nothing will ever be the same again’, I’m sure if they could have got the new Red Tractor and some white chickens onto the stage they would have done that too.

A swirling bicycle light show and a serenade from Martin Hawes and Linda Lee followed before it was left to Matt Holland to declare the festival at an end and Jake Hirsch-Holland to make it official with the final bugle blow on the traditional watering can.

Next year, more tractor, more thinking, more words, guaranteed.

Words by Michael Scott. Photos by Calyx Pictures.

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