Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Big Chill 2: The Art Trail

The Art Trail itself (an established feature at the Big Chill) was stunning, and it was a truly lush setting for the Illuminated Tipi (or rather, Haunted Tipi in this context). Our fellow Trail attractions were mainly exquisite light sculptures by Saatchi artists including some wonderful green lightning in the form of a static shape of rope light (?) stretched in angles over wire under a tree, florescent neon tubes in beautiful colours hanging from trees in a glade, in purple, red, blue, etc., and a fantastic tall sculpture made completely from found objects/recycled materials intricately put together as a tower and then lit with a circle of solar lights, and with threads tied all around it to form a sort of cone - which all looked amazing when lit up at night. We were opposite a yurt with a delicate shimmering projection of images sensitive to movement inside, and along the trail were two video projections, although we only caught one set of films - of flocking birds and old piers, atmospheric and eye catching. There were some funky love seats, big wooden benches with heart shapes and spray painted in striking colours and designs. The performance acts were some performance art of the durational/endurance variety involving what looked like space suits, some corde lisse aerial movement from a tree, and occasional music under the neon tubes in the glade - the first of which we missed sadly, as we were of course all on while the Art Trail was open from 9pm till 2am! - And ourselves in the Haunted Tipi.
    Whilst the area (behind the Enchanted Garden) was ambitious to put anything in - brambles, ant hills, nettles, thorn trees, and tucked away in the wood as well as hard to light even with powerful architectural lighting on some of the trees and installations (including the recycled sculpture and ourselves) and small spotlights studding the path, it was very beautiful and crazily atmospheric. To our surprise, hordes of folks trekked up the path and found us all, so whoever decided to locate it there was right about intrepid the festival-goers were likely to be! So while the space was somewhat of a challenge - the big pvc floor tarpaulin did save us the thorny ground, but it also was a fun surface for rugs and cushions to slide about on when folks came in to sit down and a few of the unwary went flying over an ant hill on a surface not entirely unlike a frozen windswept sea! And of course lugging everything there and back from a nearby field, and then finding things in the dark, as oddly, green and coloured lighting aren't nearly so easy to find objects in as daylight-colour light.
    However, despite all that, the setting was so striking and so picturesque that we fully understood why it had been set there, and the tipi all lit up at night on the hill, seen from below and from the path itself above, behind it a wonderful panorama of the sea of lights that was the rest of the festival site, looked so amazing that it made up for the bother.
   We just wished on Monday that we (all those on the Art Trail) had made an effort to have a drink or something together afterward! As we had all faced the same challenges and delights, and there was such a great deal of talent on the Trail. Thanks to Katie and Liam of the sculpture tower (artist Katie Surridge), for being such lovely company and to Lizzie Jordan of the yurt opposite for sharing our travails! Also to the love seat folks, and the green lightning and neon tube artists for making such lovely things to look at, ensuring that we didn't miss everything as some of the best stuff lay on the path to work! Also to Kelly of Festival Republic for booking us! It was a big success and a fabulous festival.

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