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Upfest 2018 celebrates The Simpsons and women’s suffrage

30 Jul

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Upfest celebrated its 10th anniversary this weekend with arguably its biggest coup to date.

After teaming up with the Mr Men in 2016 and Morph in 2017, organisers this year announced a collaboration with The Simpsons, and their creator Matt Groening, who handpicked three artists / teams to bring America’s most dysfunctional (until The Trumps came along) family in their own style.

So it was fitting, in a festival that also sought to mark the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, that some of those artists should be female. Continue reading

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Distracted by Seven Million People and Nudybronque at Larmer Tree 15

18 Jul

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The atmosphere at Larmer Tree Festival 2015 was a buzz with everything good and then add some Nudybronque and a whole tent is smiling and dancing and laughing and gaping in did-they-just-do-that? Lead man Aidan is adorned in flarey jeans, cape and girly top to strut the stage in a million personas that we can’t quite put our finger on. He’s got friends too in Luke (bass) and Wolfman (drums) both dressed to the sparkles and looking handsome and bright. Add John on keyboards, Faye Rogers on Sax and Connor on guitar plus glitter, and add a NudyExtraSomethingAmazing to this immense set.

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This was a magic, mesmerising show pulling together their own creative mix of 70’s Avant-Garde, Post-Punk and Britpop boogie in a new rock opera Graffiti & Her Friends: Against The Never Ending Sadness. The tent was rocking with little kids at the front and teens going crazy forming a moshy mess of arms, legs and sweaty hair. The place was full – “They are amazing,” says the guy behind me, due at the Magic Numbers 5 minutes ago. he was late but I get the impression it was worth it.

Larmer Tree Festival next week

7 Jul
The carnival procession at Larmer Tree Festival near Salisbury

The 2012 carnival procession at Larmer Tree Festival near Salisbury

Next week is the big family party known as Larmer Tree Festival, down, down at the bottom of Wiltshire barely squeaking into the county. We’ll be there for the whole thing (slipped disc permitting) hoping, for its quarter century birthday, that it will be more like a garden of pleasure and less like a mud pool. Anyways, here’s our highlights from 2012:

  • the garden’s peacocks – they like an audience more than comedians
  • parading to the sun – who eventually got his hat on – with a colourful sculpture made at an art drop-in session
  • Paloma Faith
  • pockets of poetry
  • local beer
  • shaking a tail feather in a tent full of people to Shake a Tail Feather.
  • blearily enjoying The Artist at Mark Kermode’s Film Club
  • the home-made pizza tent

Alongside highlights Tom Jones, Bill Bailey, Jimmy Cliff, Femi Kuti, The Magic Numbers, Ed Byrne (etc), is Nudybronque who are awesome and partly made by the son of chronicler Hilda.

See what we made of 2012.

larmertreefestival.co.uk

What I did last summer part 2

25 Sep

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Devizes Festival. A brilliant example of how a market town comes alive with a well-run two week set of events. This is where I encountered the iron man and became a spider minion.

I’m very into carnivals, always have been. Loved making slightly rubbish fancy dress outfits and strutting my stuff in the parade. Now I’ve got kids to make costumes for and fortunately they love it.

This year we took part in the Devizes Festival makers workshops. Me and Milo (aged eight) made our colourful feather head dresses then went back a couple of days later to work on a giant spider. Continue reading

An overlooked hero – Wollstonecraft in Swindon Festival of Literature

18 May

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As with many notable historic women, Mary Wollstonecraft is an overlooked hero.

Sandrine Berges, a French professor flown from her home in Turkey for the Swindon Festival of Literature, has a mission to raise Wollstonecraft’s profile.

Wollstonecraft was a British writer and philosopher who wrote what is probably the first feminist tract.

“Wollstonecraft would have been shocked at how slowly things have moved for women today,” said Sandrine, arguing that Wollstonecraft’s values have still not been fully realised.

The eighteenth century writer and philosopher lived a pretty racy life for a women in that age. She did not deliberately set out to provoke society – she came from a respectable family abeit with issues – she simply wanted the freedom to live the life she wanted to lead. She had two lovers, fell pregnant, fell in love with another man and fell pregnant again. She married the father of her second child but lived apart from him so they could both maintain their independence. They shared childcare of the first child. Sadly for her and for early feminism, she died days after the birth of her second child. Continue reading

Dawn Chorus, Swindon Festival of Literature

5 May

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Apparently there are plenty of morning people in Swindon. Or maybe, like me, they like the Dawn Chorus so much that they forgive the early rise. Or maybe, just once in a while, it’s great to make the effort and see the early May mist, hear the joy of the birds as they wake and see the day slowly easing in with a beautiful red, stretching across the line of artfully arranged clouds. And then think, wow, Swindon can be really quite picturesque. Continue reading

Exciting poetry coming down a slip road – Swindon Festival of Poetry launch

5 Sep

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The great thing about being a chronicler is that on the one hand I can write whatever I like (as long as it isn’t defamatory and all the words are wrote proper) but on the other I feel part of the team.

So going to the Swindon Festival of Poetry launch today at Swindon Arts Centre was a chance to catch up with wordsmithing friends. Continue reading