It’s a pretty bold statement… But Meadows in the Mountain changed my life!

29 Oct

I’ve been putting off this blog post because I don’t exactly know how to put into words my experience at Meadows in the Maintains. All I can tell you is that it has completely changed the way I view the world. I have been travelling a lot in the past, however, this was the first time I travelled anywhere alone, let alone flew to another country then had the task of finding a way across Bulgaria and up a mountain at 3am… Nevertheless, though, I am so glad I did because being a part of Meadows 2018 is something that will stay with me forever. The sites I saw, the people I met and the sunrises I will never forget. Honestly, it gives me chills now just thinking about it. It also re-instils in me the knowledge that I know what I am doing, I can make great decisions and I will be rewarded by the universe for having the guts to follow through an idea.

Let’s start with the people, the Meadows team is one of the most amazing I have ever had the opportunity to work with, from the Don’s running the behind the scenes stuff (who even when running around like headless chickens to get organised, are never to busy to stop by and say hi). To the whole décor team that welcomed me with open arms. I would like to think I earned my stripes with them, proved my place there and did a sick job in terms of the aesthetic… Nevertheless, there is something very humbling about simply being trusted with a task and given free rein to complete it. I just wanted to take a second to thank Raff and all the girls for welcoming me into your little family, not only at meadows, but all summer, your warmth and generosity has really touched my heart and I am so genuinely happy to have you all in my life now ❤ Not to mention your endless trust throughout the build process, you girls remind me to believe in myself, because turns out I’m pretty good at what I do 😉

THE VIEW… This is the thing, how do you put that into words. Living on the mountains for those 2 weeks, despite the rain and the storms was maybe the most majestic thing I have ever done, sometimes it’s easy to forget and take for granted how lucky we are to work in the festival world. To have epic experiences with magical people (and that’s our job can you believe!) But waking up every morning and staring out over the mountain, I will never forget that feelings, I will never forget that view and I will always appreciate how incredibly lucky I am to have that experience and to know that I will probably have that experience every year for the rest of my life now (as I cannot even begin to fathom not being at Meadows ever again now). That first sunrise, every time I think back to it, it takes my breath away… That was really the moment it all changed for me, without giving you all the hippy bullshit, I honestly had an epiphany that morning, watching the slow sunrise up over the cloud, listening to amazing music and dancing with my new soul sisters, it makes you appreciate life. Every second of this crazy life we have and the gift of sharing with each other.  I am so utterly humbled by those moments, I will never forget them and honestly, they have completely changed my life. They have given me a new appreciation for myself, my life, my friends, my family, my work and most of all my time, (well how I spend my time and those I chose to spend it with), never again will I pine after something I don’t have, or something that others do. Because if meadows taught me anything, it’s that I’m winning, everyone on the mountain is winning. I am incredibly lucky and fortunate to live the life I do, with the friends I have any possibly the best job in the entire world?

Okay, so let’s chat about the work, shall we? For starters, I am such a fan of the meadows aesthetic, the DIY, the Handmade, the natural materials. Respecting the land is of the utmost importance so their nod to natural materials is key. From rigging the main stage to making flower frames and props, dressing the woods, to working on the nest, I enjoyed every second of the build. The team I had the pleasure of working with and the utterly majestic setting I got to create in. It was such an incredible opportunity (it was also my achievable goal of 2018, to work décor for a festival abroad and make the FeelFree Company international)!

Working with natural materials salvaged from the land was maybe my favourite part, this ramshackle approach to décor harks back to the mountain and reflects in it, its natural beauty. Being my first meadows I had heard about some of the spaces that were built in the previous years, so it really was an honour to explore them and add to them. I am so excited to join the team again next year and incredibly eager to bring new ideas to the aesthetic.

 

 

I guess the only thing left to say is thank you, thank you for having me Meadows team, thank you for being so utterly kind, warm, welcoming and open. It’s truly incredible to have a bunch of strangers treat you like family with no questions asked, purely bound together by the fact we want to make something beautiful for everyone to enjoy in one of the most magical places in the world. I am so excited for next year… Words cannot do it justice, I am already counting down the days!

Thank you Mountains for changing the way I view the world, I am so humble and so grateful. You have changed me, for the better, forever.

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Reflections from Summer… What a better place to begin than Triplicity Festival!

15 Oct

When I think of Triplicity 2018, a line from one of my favourite texts comes to mind…

‘Whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.’

Despite all the challenges that we faced this year, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by how incredible the weekend turned out to be. The beaming sunshine felt like the universes way of thanking us for keeping faith, striving to achieve our best and not giving up when the times got tough. The epic lightning storms provided amazing entertainment when we had to confine ours and the blissful smiles and amazing vibrations from each and every happy soul makes it all worth it… We say you are our energy and it’s true. The crowd’s warmth throughout the weekend keeps me full to the brim with positivity. We all know it was not as we originally designed it to be, but ultimately this weekend reminded me the real meaning of community, as well as the true understanding of tenacity and for that, I will always be grateful and truly cherish these memories.

This year I was lucky enough to be in charge of all the Site/ Live Art as well as the partner in crime to running the Art Gallery… I hope you will all agree with me that the standard of work this year was truly mesmerising. Our gallery was literally packed to the rafters with pieces that drew you in and blew your mind. Being a 24 hr space in the festival, sometimes I would just spy from the door, watching artists create live pieces of work, listening to endless chats about how these pieces came to be, what they mean to the artist and what other see in the works. It was a space for contemplation, conversation and in many ways a very meditative space that anyone could enjoy (any time day or night). So thank you to all the contributing artist as well as our fab gallery monitors that looked after the space and made it a hub of creativity and activity.

I had the absolute pleasure of creating a mural myself this year, placed next to the main stage so I could enjoy the massive beats whilst creating, my piece was an interactive work that developed along the weekend… A door of possibility and imagination. I think there is something so exciting and engaging about creating work that grows and develops over the course of a live event, so I hope you enjoyed watching it as much as I enjoyed making it.

Big shout out to Tolga & Loosh for their truly stunning snake mural, situated next to the art gallery (also created live over the weekend) and to Holly and Archie for their hidden grotto get away. I am excited to see what applications we receive for next year… For 2019, we will be focusing on sustainable work, ecologically minded pieces will be paramount and with recycled/ reused materials encouraged (so get your creative caps on, I look forward to seeing what ideas you throw my way!)

Adding to the killer line up and super groovy to-tappers that enjoyed the music over the weekend, we also were treated to an epic array of talks, taking place in the healing area. As well as fire performances that definitely turned out to be the perfect way to unwind after a long day dancing. If you have creative ideas and would like to be a part of Triplicity next year, we want to hear from you. Share your passions with us: explore, experiment and amaze us J the Triplicity family is always growing so get in touch!

Last year I was utterly impressed by the tenacity of all of the Triplicity crew, however, this year it simply took my breath away. You learn a new understanding of what family means when you are thrown into a situation where you need to support each other (through the good times and the bad).  I feel as a team we are now banded together, we can face any challenges and have grown so much from this experience. It sounds cliché to say, but every day really is a school day, we learnt so much, we were challenged so much, when seemingly never-ending tests were put in our way, we strived for the best we could be and I feel we achieved so much more than that. Regardless of the challenges we faced, I feel that ultimately we came out the other side with an amazing event, an incredible audience and a super PHAT weekend! For me personally, I feel I have grown as an artist, creative, organiser and feel confident to call myself a logistical badass… So thank you for allowing me to find parts of myself I didn’t fully realise were there and flourish under pressure Triplicity 🙂

To all those that lived, laughed, loved and boogies with us! Thank you, thank you for the support, thank you for getting involved, thank you for the early morning’s starts, proving that we are no mediocre ravers, when the man tries to keep you down, we rise above and skank our problems away. We did it. No, actually, we smashed it. I feel so humbled to be a part of this whole community and I can only look forward to the future.

It was an unexpected opening to festival season, but made me realise a lot about myself, as well as why I do what I do. I think we all learnt a lot about where our passions lie in this test of faith. THANK YOU to my triplicity family, always welcoming me with open arms (challenging me in new ways) and supporting my decisions and judgements…. Such epic good times with incredible people. YOU ARE MY ENERGY!

 

The final chapter of the summer… The brilliant thing about Bestival!

8 Feb

The most fantastic thing about Bestival (apart from the killer line up) was the fabulous and fantastic people I had the pleasure of spending it with, for this festival I was absolutely spoilt by not only getting to work alongside my always awesome Aespia crew, but also having the pleasure of the festival moving to my home ends meant I got to catch up with some of the nearest and dearest palls from home, which was just delightful!

As the closing festival to what can only be descirbed as the most sensational festival season of my life, this was an opporunity to really test my skills. As well as proving FeelFree Company dreamcatcher decor for the Aespia take over of the woods, I also ran 3 day workshops so that everyone (no matter what their age or ability) could have a go at creating their own mini dreamcatchers to take home with them.

I met every kind of character imaginable over this weekend, from the eco-warriors picking up recycled crafts wherever possible, to the mums who were just happy to have some free, light entertainment for their children so they could put their feet up and enjoy a quick bevvy before getting back to parent duty. This was a fun-filled weekend where people really did go home with a new craft and something handmade and created with love (see I’m all about making mem’s :P).

I would like to just take a quick second to thank Aespia Scool of Art for taking me with them on their festival journey of voyage and discovery, its been a breathtaking, showstopping season and being a tutor for you is one of my highlights… So thank you!

Anywho, back to the Bestival chat! So despite the horrendous weather (ALL WEEKEND) there were lots of laughs shared by all, it was a brilliant opportunity to catch up with old friends, and even see some of my beloved Goa crew who I thought would have already disappeared back to paradise. I enjoyed a plethora of music, from the main stage headliners to the intimate sets Haai and Lone treated us to!

Here are a few snaps of the crazy fun times… Don’t be jell!

So this is finally it, The FeelFree Company is signing out of summer antics, thank you all for following, reading and getting involved in my tales of adventure. Watch this space to see what future projects I have in store.

The final thing I wanna say is: ROLL ON SUMMER 2018!

See you soon,

Love The FeelFree Company x

Field life continues… With the fantastic Field Maneuvers!

29 Jan

Field Maneuvers although small in size, is mighty in what it aims to achieve, with always an unimaginably good line up this is a festival that isn’t trying to pretend to be something it’s not! The pioneers of throwing shapes and 3 stages of constant foot tapping goodness, if you think you know festivals and love the field life, this really is something you need to experience.

What it really is, is a tight-knit family of dirty little ravers, who all have one thing in common, their love for dance music and their need to escape the shackles of the city. FM offers you a haven away from the hustle and bustle, it is simple yet at the same time, there is something so exciting about it. It prides itself on not having the noise a lot of other sites surround themselves with, without excessive production value, this doesn’t try to distract you, it simply leaves you with a subtle sense of the sublime… FM’s noise, is just that of the sound systems releasing banger after banger into the field.

For me, FM was exactly what I needed after a very long season of festivals, space to relax, good friends, and a small and easily navigatable site to rest my wiry legs on.

If you are looking for something to show off to all your friends, the selfie paradise, then this really isn’t a festival for you. Everyone who attends FM is incredibly liberated, they are there simply to have a great time, let their hair down for a few days, sans responsibilities and surroundings themselves with friends and fantastic music. This is a small site for serious music lovers. So if you are looking for something a little bit more intimate to end your season with, then look no further.

I feel my experience was made even more special by the sensational crew I had the absolute pleasure of working alongside, so kind, so welcoming and always there to lend a hand to anyone that needs them, the FM family really is that, a family and they welcomed me with open arms!

I think RA sums it up pretty well here: RA: “In the saturated UK festival market, you have to do something different to stand out. Many go bigger, more polished, more commercial, but in its five years Field Maneuvers has remained defiantly small and anti-corporate, channelling the spirit of ’90s free parties.”

Here are a few snaps of my favourite mini weekend away this season, I am already counting down the days until I get to return… I hope you can join us in the field!

 

Taking time to talk about Aespia…

3 Jan

Aespia is one of those festivals that unless you have been to, it’s actually quite hard to visualise… It’s more than a festival, and I know there are many events that say that, but for Aespia it could not be truer. It is not just a party, it is not just a festival, is 24 hours of pure, otherworldly bliss and it is created especially as a get secret getaway for the lucky punters that choose the embrace the madness, throw their trust to the wind and come and explore this magical secret world.

We say leave your ego’s at the door, as well as your phones and your fancy clothes as we give you overalls to put on as soon as your journey to our magical destination begins…

We pick you up from a London based location and take you in a blacked out bus to our secret slice of heaven tucked away deep in the woods. With an overwhelming amount of things to see and do, you are invited to try new things, meet new people, learn new skills and of course dance until your legs can’t hold you up anymore.

I am lucky enough to have returned to Aespia for my second year, I create for the site large sustainable dream catchers which are hung in each of our 5 worlds, as well we teach and all day (free) dream catcher making workshop which is again created from recycled materials. My workshop can be taken by anyone, with any skill level and is designed to bring people together in a new and exciting way.

I have been almost completely overcome by the sheer kindness, warmth and welcoming nature of the whole team who have embraced me into their fantastic festival family. Having created my bespoke works for Aespia for the second time, they have adopted me into their decor team and I am excited to take on an even larger deore role for next year.

Comprised of pretty much all volunteers, it really is incredible what can be achieved with the imagination and tenacity of individuals when they act as a collective… This is a festival built with love and shared with anyone who puts their trust in our 24 secret getaway, and I promise you won’t be disappointed 😉

My favourite part of this festival is working with people who have never really created craft objects before, with a crazy busy workshop running all day, I was blown away by the almost 100 people that took my class and created their own dreamcatchers to wear and take away with them!

Here are a few snaps of my pieces from this year for you to enjoy…

So… If you want to learn new skills, hear trailblazing new talks, meet new people, and party like you have never done before, join us at Aespia 2018! (Plus with tickets this cheap I really don’t know what you are waiting for)

 

😉 see you in the woods!

 

 

Building Boomtown…

11 Nov

There really is nothing quite like Boomtown… Whether you love it or loathe it you have to admit that it is a totally unique experience, and if you are like me then you bloody love it!


For a few years now I have had my eyes set on building boomtown, I have never experienced a festival with decor and scenic work like they have, their production is second to none, and this year it was finally my chance to contribute towards the brilliance and madness that is Boomtown Fair.


I was lucky enough to be working in up town, Mayfair specifically, and especially lucky that the team I had around me were just so utterly brilliant. I learnt so much during this build, both in terms of endurance and technical skill… As without a doubt building this site was simultaneously the best and worst thing I have ever done. The unrelenting weather from pretty much the moment I arrived on site made this massive task a mammoth one. Nevertheless, what I found was the most impressive part of it all was the sheer determination of every builder/ decor team across every town and their ability to power on through despite everything the English weather had to throw at us. Apart from a few short breaks because of torrential rain and lightning storms which temporarily halted the site for fairly obvious health and safety reasons, we all worked tirelessly late into the night to get the job done.


The biggest thank you I have is to my two fantastic Mayfair bosses, not only is it totally empowering to work for two incredibly talented ladies, but I was literally blown away by your generosity, the knowledge you shared with me has improved all elements of my practice two-fold. You have made me quicker, more accurate and efficient and I will take the tips you taught me through into future projects. So thank you. Thank you so so much 🙂


Of course in classic sod’s law fashion, from the moment the festival doors opened, we had pure, blissful sunshine (not that I am complaining) which meant by the time my palls arrived none of the previous chaos was anywhere to be seen!

I am so happy to have been a part of Boomtown this year, and it really does make me proud to know I helped contribute to the sheer majestic brilliance that culminates in this unique site… Thank you Boomtown, see you next year!

Crisis is too strong a word…

8 Nov

However, I am having an artistic crisis… I know what your thinking how can an artist who prolifically makes, exhibits and collaborates be in a crisis, but its all about the context you see darling.

When I was in art school and actually for about a year after graduating I knew exactly who I was, what I made and what it meant for me to be an artist. I was a political printmaking, treading a new path and trailblazing to create rich, new meaningful work, happy to stand up for the heritage of political printmakers that have come before me. Especially through woodcutting to quote my existing artists statement ‘Through establishing a revival of woodcutting; a common-place practice amongst ‘revolutionary’ artists of the past.  I am embracing the heritage of political printmaking, woodblocks were initially developed due to their accessibility both as a resource and their communicative qualities, which contextually, I continually exploit throughout my practice’.

Now though, I do still love to carve wood and in many ways, I am just trying to get myself back to this, but after reading my artist statement back to myself I realised, am I really still all those things I say I am? Does my work even look like that anymore, because it doesn’t feel like it does? I have spent the last 3 year traveling around the world and traveling through the contemporary art world. I have become a poet, I am even known for the odd performance piece or two, but my latest pieces don’t really feel that political at all. I’m not saying that that is a bad thing, but its really makes me question what I am, and what I’m doing if its not what I was doing before.

After my time in India, I started a new aspect of my practice, one which in hindsight is pretty much completely removed from politics. I started drawing again (I hadn’t drawn properly since first years mandatory drawing class on a Friday morning) and I loved it, and what did I start drawing (I hear you so eagerly asked) Mandalas. Detailed, intricate patterns that for me are completely meditative. They are good for my soul and they help me feel at peace… But, in many ways, they are so different from my previous work that I now have no idea how I got here?

I was at an opening of a print fair my work was part of a few weeks ago and I was asked by someone who hasn’t seen my old style of work before, rather disgruntledly, “why aren’t you making work like that anymore? That’s Great!” And I thought to myself god, why aren’t I making work like that anymore? In this crazy, politically unstable time, why am I not making work about politics anymore… There is SO MUCH going on that I could be making work about, why am I totally uninspired by it all? When I think about it, it is probably because I cannot think of anything worse than spending my time, making a drawing and meticulously carving out of wood anything remotely to do with Trump, nor Theresa May and especially not Brexit! All these things literally make me shudder and maybe it’s my naivety to try and run away from these terrible contemporary life concepts that have resulted in my hiding my head in the sand. I realised today after talking to a brilliant arty friend of mine that when it comes to contemporary politics I feel 50% overwhelmed and 50% dissolution, which leaves no real space for creativity.

So where do I go now?

Do I abandon all that I knew before? (Which is really really not what I want to do) hence the fact I haven’t taken it off my website yet? Do I write a new artist statement about my new work and my current practice, but that is so diffidcult when I am too afraid to shake myself of the shackles I previously and so deliberately attached to myself…

Am I copping out?

Or can I do both? Is it possible to keep my contextual rigor, but also create work that simply makes me feel good? But, when I do make this other work I then feel guilty that my work no longer makes a difference in the world, it no longer says anything. I used to say that for me a successful artwork is one that sparks conversation, but do my beautiful mandalas ask anything? Or have I just fallen into the Art for Arts sake category which I always avoided?

Is it possible to be two different kinds of artists without seeming a touch bi-polar? Or will all my mandala work completely devalue all of the political work? Does that even matter if I can’t bring myself to make anything political at the moment anyway?

So that’s pretty much where I am now. I am sorry if you were reading this and hoped I had I reached a conclusion by the end of this, but I was quite hoping by some miracle that you guys might want to give me that answer? Or at least through the process of writing this down (as my new mentor has advised) that I might figure out the answer for myself… I’m not sure that that has happened though, so if you do have any words of advice please feel free to throw them my way!