London has had many guises over the millennia, cheapest website like this and what we Londoners (born and bred in my case) consider essential and iconic about it varies wildly from what foreigners do, buy information pills whether they be from the Welsh borders or much further afield. Some outsiders hate London and all it stands for – everyone knows someone from outside who refuses to ever come to the Big Town because it is so “noisy and dirty, and everyone is so rude”.
Of course it is! It’s a big, bad mess of a place. It’s also much more than the sum of Oxford Street and Madame Tussauds, where lots of visitors start their London experience, missing out on the more personal, human aspect of the city because it’s all just too overwhelming. Admittedly, sometimes London feels like an overpriced dump, but it’s our dump. So how to make outsiders see what we see?
Mayor Boris has issued a competition to ad agencies to give London a new identity, presumably with an eye on the Olympics, and branding agency Moving Brands has decided to take its bid public. It’s inviting submissions from all of us to suggest ideas and images in the hope of coming up with something that’s quintessentially Londonic, something Londoners might actually like and want to look at, as well as luring more tourists to the banks of the Thames. There’s a lot of logos already defining some of London’s attributes, some more popular than others:
London needs its brand identity to unite all the different facets of city life in the capital. The new face of London can’t be all shiny and perky because we aren’t in America; it shouldn’t be too “yoof” or urban because huge swathes of London is preppy and upper-crust. But we also don’t want to see any references to Shakespeare or any mythical past golden age. London has street markets, opera houses, a Queen, gay clubs, curry houses, Fashion Week, Soho and more scenes than you could count. Why not have a go at designing something that does justice to the London you know and love?
The project is also an interesting peek into the journey a brand goes through during development. Moving Brand’s blog is essentially the brainstorm phase played out in public, where everyone can see the false starts and evolving ideas. There’s quite a few interesting submissions up on their blog already, which could form the basis of the agency’s tender, and they’re getting feedback on everything via Twitter and Facebook. One of these images might become very familiar some time soon.
Jeans for Genes day was once the highlight of the primary school calendar: one of only a few days when our joyous little selves can don our own clothes and ditch our school uniforms (of course inspiring the mini divas in each of us to spend hours deciding what combo to go with to best impress our school-kid counterparts, order or was that just me?!) Synonymous with freedom, this site equality and embracing the American way of the Western frontier, denim has always held associations with youthful hope. Becoming popular in the James Dean era with 1950s teenagers everywhere, jeans have become symbolic of casual dress, ‘devil-may-care’ attitudes and rebellion. Perhaps that’s why they make an excellent choice for supporting this charity for Genetic Disorders; giving kids a chance to make a difference through self-expression. Whilst providing adults a chance to embrace their inner child, wear their jeans with pride and be optimistic about making a change for a day in our doom-and-gloom world.
At the same time as raising money for children and families affected by genetic disorders, the charity donates funds to groundbreaking research into cures for the disorders it supports such as sickle cell anemia and cystic fibrosis. Frequently funding research into many unknown disorders enables small projects to receive help they would scarcely be able to generate on their own. By simply donating a bit of dosh each year to help change a life on Jeans for Genes day millions of people are ‘allowed’ to wear jeans to work and school. And this year is no different, with the event taking place on Friday 2nd October across the country.
With supporters such as Project Catwalk‘s Nick Ede and Donna Ida, of Dona Ida’s denim boutique, Jeans for Genes is well-known in the fashion world. Frequently running other initiatives to unite the fashion and charity spheres, including a t-shirt design competition at London College of Fashion. This year the competition was won by Asha Joneja, a London College of Fashion student for her gold foil double helix design.
Donna Ida summarises the case for Jeans for Genes rather fittingly: “Fashion speaks to such a wide audience that I thought it important to use that platform to gain awareness for a great charity, and Jeans for Genes was the perfect fit,” using the mass-appeal of the fashion industry to generate money for a good cause, rather than personal profit or greed.
Moreover Jeans for Genes are not the only ones with this attitude. It seems this ethic is spreading at the moment; with other charitable organisations tied to fashion springing up and stomping their heels in the name of raising money. One such event, Fit for a Princess, will be held on 26th September 2009 at the Bentall shopping centre in Kingston. Endeavoring to fuse the worlds of fashion and charity, the shopping centre states that it champions the event because it is giving back to the local community with a kick-ass fashion punch.
Helena Bonham Carter
The event’s exhibition is run by the Princess Alice Hospice, a local charity with 25 years of experience caring for its patients, providing free, excellent quality support in a modern setting; it’s income is largely generated by charitable donations such as this event promises to secure.
Undeniably, the event has drawn much fashionista support in the form of Twiggy, Trinny Woodall and Fern Cotton. Each celebrity will showcase their personal party outfits in shop windows throughout the centre, promising to exhibit sassy personal styling as well as trend and designer knowledge. Giving a new meaning to the term ‘window shopping’, shoppers will be able to bid on their favourite celebrities’ stylings on eBay from the 19th October. To locate the clothes type ‘fit for a princess’ in to the site’s search engine.
Key pieces featuring in the exhibition include an Alberta Ferretti sequin skirt and top worn by Helena Bonham-Carter at the Planet of the Apes premier, and a body con dress by current fascination and legend of the eighties, Hervé Leger, donated by Beverly Knight. It seems that fashion, despite its bad rep as heartless and money-grabbing, can also use its power for good… watch this space for more events that Amelia’s Magazine thinks you should be involved with.
Over the last few years, there the British summer has seen the festival crescendo. Featuring initially as a mere whisper in the background of our holiday activities to an overwhelming, generic near inaudible screech with festivals popping up bigger and louder than ever before. We all need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ‘STOP!’ Not everything needs to grow to epic, brand-lavished proportions, things can remain at a small, intimate size. In our economic c*****e (excuse the blasphemy), let’s take it DIY…
An antidote to all things grotesquely commercial, this weekend I ventured to Mellow Croft Farm in the idyllic hills of South Wales to check out the fifth annual CWM event, hosted by South London arts collective, Utrophia.
In place of queue foreboding portaloos, were handmade huts where excrement was neatly disposed of with a layer of pine needles. To be ethically turned into manure by the landowner in two years time. There was no sign of any beer sponsored, overprized bars. Instead a table offering £2 pints of local ale and organic cider via, at times, an honesty box system. Not to mention the fire-heated open-air bath to wash off the festival fun. But best of all, the festival goers consisted of around 200 like-minded music lovers and the organisers intend to keep it that way.
“Using the word ‘festival’ to describe these events is debatable, as we like to think they mimic the outdoor gatherings that had occurred pre-Woodstock. You know the ones you never heard of, where folk came from near and far to share their goods and entertain one another, ” says the collective.
Something charming about such an intimate event is that you don’t have that (self-coined) ‘Clashtonbury’ moment, where after desiring no bands all morning, you are forced to choose between seeing your two favourite acts, billed simultaneously. At Cwmback, the schedule was as organic as their cider, with announcements of acts made by a cowbell assisted role call from around the campsite. In between acts, was an obligatory regroup at the bar tent or campfire where gems of entertainment were born out of idle moments; the ‘communal hair washing’ incident and ‘crisp eating to music’ event to name just two.
Rather than a main stage live experience that is more like watching BBC iplayer for all you can see of the bands, Cwmback’s live music setting was built within a snug pine forest which handily provided shelter from the rain when those Welsh skies opened – which they love to do.
So what of the music? A cast made up mostly of friends of friends, there was an eclectic mix of the obscure to the bizarre, but never a weak link. Jame Dudy Dench delighted on the opening night with a comical Hip-Hopera, more in a vein of a satirical Beastie Boy than R. Kelly. Staying on the ironic end of the spectrum, duo Ginger & Sorrel, opened Sunday night’s entertainment blending Fairground keyboard phrases with beer sipped in comedy timing and a rap about tarpaulin, which was also a component of their outfits.
Gentleman’s Relish brought an air of Sinatra, if he’d have gotten lost on the way to Vegas and found himself in a sweaty indie club. The lead singer croons over a mire of guitar riffs and in ‘Wolves and Monkeys’, chimpanzee noises.
The Human Race managed to overcome technical obstacles in the form of a broken amp/guitar and eventual loss bass guitar string mid-performance to deliver a stomping set – nothing like staring into the face of adversity to up your musical prowess.
The lo-fi element of the weekend came in the form of girl/boy folk duo, Mouth 4 Rusty who had the audience clicking and clapping along to stripped back simple songs of love forlorn.
A personal hightlight were Limn, an instrumental 4-piece who play in a revolving drum/guitar rectangle, communicating in call and response riffs that transport you to an old Batman cartoon series.
Pop crooner, Mon Fio, was joined by a trombone player in an appropriately, Sunday afternoon, ad hoc fashion from the depths of the pine forest location. Such was the desire for an encore (and hangover), songwriter Jon, simply repeated the last song in the set to an audience who had broken out into a line dancing formation.
Please paid a fleeting visit to the farm to play a full throttle performance at dusk which had the most timid of music listeners moshing at the front. Festival closer, Pseudo Nippon donned African prints and tropical inspired outfits to screech over a Gameboy backing track, in a Japanese accent and individually hug every member of the audience several times throughout their set. We were charmed.
If you like to enjoy your festival from the confines of your bourgeois motorhome, then this may not be the one for you. If, however, you’ve given up on the scene, loathing everything about Reading Festival and its conglomerate cousins, then Cwmback, because you may well have met your match. Maybe next year avoid the big punchers of the festival circuit, take a leaf out of the Utrophia book and Do It Yourselves.
As previously mentioned in this week’s music listings, you can conveniently find the crop of these bands at Shunt in London Bridge this Friday.
Raised on a diet of sun-drenched, price rural, buy more about Californian folk, about it Alela Diane came from relative obscurity, initially self-releasing her albums in paper and lace sleeves with hand lettering, before finally getting noticed by the world’s music press. Only to have one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2007 with her debut, ‘Pirate’s Gospel’. Amelia’s Magazine finds out that she’s still keeping it all in her stride, as we chat on the phone with the down to earth lady, from her house in Portland, Oregon, before she crosses the Atlantic to tour her latest release, ‘To Be Still.’ Here’s how it went…
Amelia’s Magazine: After such a successful debut, how does it feel to release an album with all eyes on you?
Alela Diane: Well I guess I don’t always really realise that all eyes are on me if they are. I try to maintain a low profile. But it is nice to put out another record knowing that people are going to hear it.
AM: Are you excited to bring it to the UK?
AD: It will be nice to do a few more dates in the UK… We’ve been on tour so much this year and part of me is, ‘oh I haven’t been home at all’, but… we haven’t done a lot of touring this album in the UK so that’ll be nice. We’ve done lots of UK festivals with this album but not many smaller venues yet.
AM: Your music lends itself to an intimate setting, do you enjoy those smaller gigs more for that reason?
AD: It’s really difficult to compare the two. They both have a unique energy. At a festival people are out to have a great time. It’s just so different in a smaller venue. I enjoy both. But sometimes you can really get into the feeling of the music in a smaller setting.
AM: There is a fuller arrangement of the tracks on ‘To Be Still’ compared with your first album. Will you be joined by a full band on tour?
AD: I have a drummer and a bass player and back up singers. And my dad is touring with me also, playing electric guitar and mandolin. Yeah it is more full than I’m used to.
AM: Is that something that makes you feel proud to have your dad touring with you?
AD: My dad is an amazing musician and it really is great having him with me. It keeps me grounded. Makes away feel more homey.
AM: Is he responsible for getting you into music and writing it yourself?
AD: When I really started writing songs and began to perform… that was a thing I kind of did on my own. But my whole life growing up with my parents, my dad is a performer so it was a massive part of my upbringing.
AM: Michael Hurley‘s vocals in ‘Age Old Time’ off the new album really capture the raw, nostalgia present in a lot of your music. Was that a conscious decision?
AD: He was really fitting for that song because I wrote that song about my Grandma’s dad. He’d written all these songs for my grandma when she was little. So the song would resonate we really wanted a voice that sounded from another time. I’d met Michael living in Portland and gave him a record. His voice really captured what that song was about. It was one of those magical little moments of the record.
AM: Tell me about Headless Heroes, it was such a favourite album of mine… Is that ever to be repeated?
AD: I really don’t know. It was one of those somewhat random projects, which I was invited to be a part of and what I did on that project was really just sing. I didn’t have anything to do with picking the songs or really much else other than lending my voice. But it was kind of liberating and a lot of fun to just do it and not be responsible for every other detail of that recording. In some ways it allowed me to just really experiment with my voice and have a great experience. I think I learned a lot from doing it and perhaps in the future I will do more projects like that.
AM: So back to your own music, do you write mainly at home in Portland, Oregon or on tour? Where is most condusive for you?
AD: For ‘To Be Still’ I wrote most of them when I was living in this little cabin in Nevada City and I wrote some of them up in Portland when I was living there. Lately because I have been on the road so much I have started to write a lot more lyrics without having the chance to develop the songs yet. But I have a bunch of words that are waiting to become songs. And I never did that before. I was writing at home where I could make it a song right away. But I don’t have the time and space to do that on tour because I’m around people all the time or in a van. But in a way it’s nice because it’s given me a chance to really develop the words before they become songs. I think once I’m home after this tour I’ll get chance to find the music and the melodies for them.
AM: So it sounds like there could be quick turnaround…
AD: Yeah I think so. I’m feeling like there is good stuff there and I can’t wait to develop it.
AM: What do you listen to yourself?
AD: Well… I listen to a lot of older stuff – I guess I’m sitting in front of my vinyl collection right now… the one on the top is a Johnny Cash record.
AM: Which one?
AD: He’s older on the front and it just says CASH… Unchained! Erm… I’ve been pretty into Fleetwood Mac lately and Fairport Convention. I think Sandy Denny has my actual favourite voice. She’s my favourite vocalist.
AM: Is there anything modern that ever catches your ear?
AD: It has been a while… I have friends who I definitely appreciate. My friend Mariee Sioux, I love her music. She does something very different and special. I heard the Fleet Foxes last summer and really, really liked that. For a while I was a bit sceptical because they had been so hyped up and I was like, ‘yeah, yeah.’ But then when I actually heard it, I realised they were very, very talented.
AM: There’s definitely a folk explosion apparent with bands like Fleet Foxes in the US and much in what is coming out of the UK at the moment. Are there any countries that have gripped onto your music that have surprised you?
AD: Yeah. I’ve been a France and lot. And something about my music seems to be really liked in France. I don’t necescarily understand it but I think in a way it is so foreign to them. It’s coming from a place that is so unlike France. The things I sing about…
AM: Will the next album see any new collaborations?
AD: I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. Because I’ve been touring with the band so much… my dad, my good friend Lena sings the back up vocals. She’s been writing a lot of songs. My boyfriend is the bass player in the band and the four of us are starting to collaborate and working on the idea of what we can do writing together. So that is something that may end up happening.
AM: Is that a first for you then?
AD: Up to this point, all the songs have been written by me and then the studio arrangement… The songs come together from an idea from me or an idea from my dad. But the actual writing with a group like that, exploring ideas, I’ve never done that. And the little that we’ve done together is really inspiring and it feels really different and good. So we’ll see what happens. Everybody has a little different of thing to bring to the table and it’s working out to be pretty groovy.
You can catch Alela Diane with dad in tow on her UK tour this month in these places:
London (Shepherd’s Bush Empire) (17/09)
Lee Scratch Perry and new Caribbean cinema at the Tabernacle
Two very different events at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill this month will show how the Caribbean has been and continues to be a hive of creative activity, viagra 40mg with one of its iconic figures stepping out of music for a moment to create visual art, doctor and up-and-coming film-makers trying to get noticed.
First up, pilule an icon of reggae, Jamaican musician, producer and generally unusual person Lee “Scratch” Perry, has collaborated with artist Peter Harris to create works that burst with colour and liveliness, much like the legendary man himself. You might not know him, but you’ll have heard many of his cuts on the radio, at the Carnival, or blasting out of windows. Sometimes called “the Jamaican Phil Spector”, he was responsible for producing most of the famous reggae tunes that came out of Jamaica in the 70s. He ran the Black Ark recording studio, which he also claims to have burnt down when he got tired of it.
This project, entitled “Higher Powers” sees him create zany poster-style works, which will be displayed at the Tabernacle in conjunction with songs performed by Perry and mixed live by Adrian Sherwood, founder of On-U Sound Records. The songs relate to a film created by Harris, where he asks a variety of people, including reverends, gangsters and Boris Johnson about their ideas of a higher power. There’s a personal element to the film as Harris found out during the project, begun in 2007, that his sister and father had both been diagnosed with terminal cancer. The event will support CLIC Sargent children’s cancer charity.
The Higher Powers event is on September 10 and tickets cost £20.
Also at the Tabernacle this month is the Portobello Film Festival. Beginning tomorrow, all events are free and films range from Wall-E to a mini-festival within a festival showcasing Caribbean films. Only three hours long, the “Caribbean Film Corner” (September 16) is a chance to see short films from the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, with the aim of promoting film-makers from all of the West Indies’ main language groups, and the region itself as a good place to make films. The films range from documentary to one-minute clip, via animated and musical offerings.
The following day, September 17, there will be a director’s and actor’s workshop presented by journalist Franka Philip and including leading British film-maker of Trinidadian descent Horace Ové. There will be an introduction to Ové’s works and a screening, followed by a Q&A.
For more details on all events, visit the Tabernacle website.
This September sees Rich Mix cinema celebrating the origins of style through it’s Fashion On Film Season beginning with Pandora’s Box on the September 18th. The season coincides with London Fashion Week’s 25th Anniversary and Rich Mix continues it’s support of ethical fashion from housing the Ethical Fashion Forum, rx Pants for Poverty, adiposity Worn again and Erdem, to staging a Cut and Create Fashion workshop. Hopefully encouraging DIY activism in budding designers and an awareness of the joys at turning something old into something new. The Cinema/Arts Space complete their celebration of all things fashion by hosting a conversation with the inspirational Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki.
Recently Amelia’s magazine enjoyed the celebration of a fashion revolution in Coco avant Chanel, whilst anxiously anticipating the arrival of The September Issue. Simultanously visiting the eclectic world of Grey Gardens: Rich Mix on Sunday 20th September. This film is throughly recommended for anyone interested in the inspiration behind recent catwalk trends.
Amelia’s Magazine spoke to Rich Mix’s Negede Assefa (Film Officer) and Pawlet Brookes (Chief Executive) and the Education Programmer, Thalia.
What influenced Rich Mix’s decision to organise a fashion film season coinciding with London Fashion Week 2009?
Rich Mix is an arts and cultural organisation that supports and showcases a wide range of arts to celebrate the wide and diverse society of London, as well as a hub of creative businesses. We have tenants within the Rich Mix building that are strongly influential to London’s current fashion scene – Erdem, Ethical Fashion Forum and Worn Again – and are situated in an area (Shoreditch) that thrives on its influence. Our involvement in London Fashion Week is an ideal opportunity to showcase this important industry whilst representing Rich Mix’s dual role as an arts centre and centre of creative industry.
How did Rich Mix decide on the films showing during the fashion film season?
‘Brit Chic’ was an opportunity to showcase the history post-war of British fashion from the 1940s through to the 80s through the eyes of some beautiful and rarely screened films which we are proud to showcase. ‘Grey Gardens’ and ‘A Bigger Splash’ are both eccentric and entertaining films that highlight the history of some of the biggest style icons from both sides of the Atlantic. ‘Pandora’s Box’ is a classic silent film played with a live piano accompaniment, and is one of European silent cinema’s crowning achievements. The films were chosen to reflect a range of different styles and era’s and also to showcase how film can influence and celebrate creativity in the UK and beyond.
what were the reasons for staging the ‘In Conversation with Barbara Hulanicki’
Barbara Hulanicki, stood out for us as an icon that represents the history of London fashion as well as the style of today’s London, in particular East London in which we are situated. Her boutique BIBA had a huge influence on style that was synonymous with 60′s and 70′s culture – the eras represented in two of our films – and her current collection for Topshop confirms that her influence has not declined since.
How did the cut and create! fashion workshop come about – what is the workshop’s aim?
Rich Mix is keen to develop a relationship with London Borough of Tower Hamlets Lifelong Learning which has an established programme of courses for adults. We are developing a diverse cross-arts education programme at Rich Mix and one of our aims is to offer creative workshops and courses for young people, to develop their skills and interest in the arts. The workshop will introduce participants to the first stages of cutting and draping patterns on a mannequin, using paper and fabric. Participants will also be introduced to the fashion courses run by LBTH Lifelong Learning should they wish to pursue this area of study, and the film screenings and discussions taking place at Rich Mix as part of our fashion season.
The workshop will focus on fashion styles from across the globe, from Africa to Asia, and Europe to America.
Coming across Amelia Lindquist’s Peeps Website one blustery English Easter day through Style Bubble‘s ever on the button blog was a breath of fresh whimsical air. The summer collection evoked a skipping of the heart at the thought of long lazy summer days wearing peeps’ tie dye dress. The slow arrival of autumn delivers the new fall collection and a continually skipping heart at the intricate application of knotted rope against delicately draped fabric. Amelia’s Magazine interviewed the 19 year entrepreneur behind the clothes:
Can you tell Amelia’s Magazine about yourself please?
I am twenty years old and a California native. I started an online business, no rx Peeps.org, rx when I was in 3rd grade, making simple purses for my fellow classmates and school employees. As my sewing skills evolved in high school, I started making my own clothes, transforming my website into an online clothing store. From there it has taken off more quickly and successfully than I could have imagined. During this last year the site has become so busy, I can no longer be a one-woman business. So I hired a seamstress in Los Angeles, where my business is based, to sew the stock for the website. While maintaining and operating my website I am studying at Parsons School of Design in New York City and for this semester I will be studying in Paris.
Does Parsons School of Design encourage a particular style of design philosophy/ethos?
Parsons School of Design has a very commercial point of view in fashion. Most of the professors have had much experience in the design world and often come from big fashion houses for example Ralph Lauren and Chanel.
They mostly focus on designing successful collections and how to market them to a wide audience. There is only some room for
extreme experimentation in materials and silhouettes.
Which designers do you think are currently the most influential in fashion design?
Balmain, Martin Margiela and Nicolas Ghesquiere
What is your concept/brief when designing your pieces?
As an artist it is hard to describe the ideas and processes that go through designing. There are so many different ways that I think about pieces and how I think about designing pieces that it is very intuitive. For the most part I just start making things that I like and then from there I always fall in love with one new thing that I can base a whole collection off of. For my new collection I designed the rope skirt first and got inspired by the way the rope draped, so I then played with drape and proportion on the majority of my pieces.
How do you decide on the fabrics and the shapes of your design?
When searching for certain fabrics for my designs I sometimes have swatches or an idea in my mind of what I want it to be. But every time I go to a store, I find something out of the ordinary that gets my attention. From there a certain fabric sometimes even has an influence on the overall design of the garment and can change it completely. I get really inspired by textiles and the different colors, patterns and textures they can have. As far as silhouettes, the female body really fascinates me so when I design I like to work with it instead of against it.
I am influenced by everything around me. When I see things in my everyday life I apply them to the body without even thinking. I think about designing pieces all day so it has become somewhat of a habit.
What are your plans for the future of peeps.org and yourself as a designer?
Peeps.org is continuing to grow and by the time I graduate I hope to have a full time business that I will devote to.
Find Amelia Lindquist at Peeps.
The Green Man Festival takes place in the Brecon Beacons, what is ed in what is allegedly the “best event site in country, adiposity ” and I’ve no reason to doubt that. Last weekend, (from 21st – 23rd August) the Glanusk Estate was transformed into a family-friendly, alt-folk, cider-soaked, bustling, colourful and astonishingly hip music festival. Oh and it featured lots of other stuff too – from literature and comedy to science experiments and workshops on yurt making.
The festival was unofficially opened on Friday by the druids of Stonehenge. It’s always a good sign when you get druids at your festival I think, like getting lichen growing on your walls, or bees colonising your garden – it’s just one of those signs that you are probably doing something, somewhat indefinable, right. The druids led a ceremony to bring good weather (and peace) to the Green Man festival. Almost immediately after the ceremony finished it started raining. For about an hour. But then the sun came out for the rest of the festival so perhaps there was just a slight delay in appealing to the collective powers of nature.
In all seriousness though, there really was a strange sense of peace pervading the festival – I’ve never seen so many people have such a good time, and be so refreshingly friendly and relaxed. There was none of the late-night-lairiness you get at lots of music festivals; instead there was a genuine air of fun and happy times in the air.
I’d wanted to go along to take a look at the environmental side of the Green Man – a festival that manages to position itself firmly in the trendy boutique festival niche whilst still retaining its strong ethical and environmental principles. The festival doesn’t have any corporate sponsors and that’s probably the most noticeable aspect on arriving at the event. All the stalls are independents, many with their own ethical criteria (lots of organic this, fair-trade that and lots of proclamations about local sourcing and happy livestock). All the food on sale came in compostable containers complete with wooden cutlery that could either be re-used or composted – and compost bins scattered throughout the site, as well as a full range of recycling bins for paper, cans and plastics.
There was also a dedicated space given over to environmental and “alternative” ideas – “Einstein’s Garden” – where science and nature collided and people had the chance to learn more about various campaigning groups, try their hand at different crafts and learn more about alternative ways of living – from radical midwifery to aromatherapy – although a bit more could be done to highlight this area.
Before Green Man took place I caught up with Fiona Stewart, one of the organisers, to ask her a bit more about the background of the festival. This year the festival introduced a unique partnership with Mind, the mental health charity. Fiona explained, “We wanted to reach people Mind doesn’t normally reach – mental health is an environmental issue (and vice versa) how people deal with the world and with each other – it’s all part of the same thing. I’m very into making and supporting each other. Self empowerment is an important principle for me. If we are really to be Green Men, we have to think about it all.”
This sense of interconnectedness pervaded the festival – helped by the fact that there were no sharp delineations between different stages in terms of the types of music being played. The whole event felt cohesive and welcoming – genuinely a place for like-minded souls to come together.
That being said, there were some tensions between ethical and environmental principles of the Green Man (which I do applaud) and the nature of putting on such an event. Temporary festivals are fundamentally challenging things to put on without being very carbon-intensive. There is nothing like standing in a muddy field the morning after a festival and looking round the detritus left by thousands of fans all getting bored and dropping their beer cans at the end of the night to really make you despair of our ability to look after the planet. Even with the prevalence of the recycling bins and the sterling work of the small army of festival litter-pickers, there was still a fair amount of rubbish by the end of the headline act each night.
I couldn’t help thinking about Climate Camp at Kingsnorth last summer, where there was much less infrastructure in place, but also a much greater sense of personal responsibility to maintain the site as we found it. Of course, Climate Camp and the Green Man, or any music festival, are very different events – however it was interesting to be part of a 10,000 person crowd, most of whom would probably identify themselves as interested in green issues, yet who still abandoned a sense of personal responsibility for looking after their beautiful surroundings by the end of the weekend.
Saturday night was closed by Jarvis Cocker. “Look at this” he said, “We’re all together. There’s no adult supervision here, because we are the adults. And it’s ok. No-one’s fighting or getting hurt. So maybe that means that people are ok. That we’re ok.” As rallying cries go, it perhaps lacks definite punch – though it got a huge cheer from the crowd. But I think that Green Man is really onto something – it’s a great festival, with a fantastic line-up and is staunchly independent, and it is taking important steps in trying not only to organise the festival on ethical lines but also to minimise the environmental impact of the festival, though there is more that could be done there. But overall you are left with a sense that people are ok – and that with enough motivation there’s no need for world issues, mental health or caring about the planet to be heavy ponderous subjects. You can engage in a fun, creative way – and that ultimately people are ok if we give ourselves the chance to be.
Categories ,Environment, ,Festival, ,Green Man, ,Jarvis Cocker, ,Mind
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