we took part in speed of light at edinburgh festival. it was a night walk of 3 hours up to arthur's seat in holyrood park overlooking edinburgh with walking sticks that had a a light at the bottom end to help you walk and a gizmo that emitted ambient sounds at particular altitudes. groups of runners in suits with lights on them ran across the adjacent hill to the walkers, creating a mesmerising effect. whilst it was called speed of light it was actually a slow meditative experience raher than a fast one. it was designed and put together by NVA. if you are in edinburgh book yourself in. clearly a challenge to photograph so i took up a tripod and grabbed a few 10 second or so exposures which look rather beautiful in their own way. this is the base of walkers light sticks (sabres?!) as they walk past. this is a moment at the top to pause and look over edinburgh and this gives a sense of the light sticks.
if you want to see a much more amazing set of images than mine (!) this slideshow at the guardian is brilliant...
"one of the greatest things i've ever seen" - that's how harry's show proper pop-up purple paper people was described on radio one ths afternoon and given a 5 star rating! who knows how but chris who picks out a show to review each day for scott mills landed at harry's venue and loved it (if you want to listen on iplayer it's about 1:23 in to the show). joel rang me as he was in the car and had radio one on at the time and was somewhat surprised to find harry being reviewed... the show is in a small basement at the royal oak so expect tomorrow to be packed!!!
following last year's debut fringe show, harry is back for three weeks with a new show - 'proper pop-up purple paper people' with a bundle of new material. we're on holiday in scotland next week so will be going along and looking forward to it. this runs for three weeks before he takes it to greenbelt festival for a solo show. he is also repeating last year's amazing adventures - birth of a champion show for 10 days from 13 august so you can catch him twice!
i'm heading up to scotland again at the end of june for solas festival which you may remember me blogging and enthusing about last year. the line up is growing. rory butler and adam stearns who i picked out last year as highlights are both back. harry baker (!) is performing, along with the likes of ricky ross. this year i am giving a couple of talks. maybe see you there?
last year i went on a retreat to the mccormaig islands off the west coast of scotland with some pioneers from cms course hosted by chris goan and the aoradh community in dunoon. it was a wonderful experience - amazing location, retreat with silence and space for reflection, and as a bonus i missed the royal wedding!
chris and others are now running two trips in 2012 that you could go on - in june and august. contact them direct if you are interested. lots of photos and details are here
mirazozo is a colourscape construction lit solely by daylight and designed by architects and kept up by being filled with air pumped in and through it. chilled sound plays inside and it's delightful. these photos are all taken on my phone which couldn't seemingly handle the colour saturation but i rather like it because of that... i encountered it at edinburgh festival.
i took a photo of another lightbulb that was in the corridor of one of the buildings i visited for another exhibtion in edinburgh
as well as the david mach exhibition i meant to say i had visited a bundle of exhibitions in the edinburgh art festival which i really enjoyed. a particular highlight and surprise was stumbling across lineage at edinburgh printmakers (partly to get out of the rain) and absolutely loving the prints by all the artists but julian opie in particular. he had these lenticular landscapes that were amazing - a kind of three dimenisonal print. this page doesn't even begin to give the impression of what they are like but you'll get a vague idea of the effect here.
then the other part of edinburgh i discovered was some of its brilliant coffee particularly as it seemed to rain for virtually the whole time i was there so i needed shelter! there are quite a few independent coffee shops - but my recommendations would be for a place to sit and have breakfast urbanangels, for a cheap lunch and good vibe and decent coffee black medicine, but for simply the best coffee you will get in edinburgh artisan roast is in every way totally amazing! no idea how it rates on glasgow's best coffee, but this article helped me out in edinburgh...
(oh and yes i did visit some comedy shows, free fringe and all that!...)
in edinburgh one of the highlights for me was david mach's exhibition precious light. this is a project exploring the themes of the king james bible as part of the 400th year celebrations. david says he is not a christian but finds the themes of the bible resonate with today's world in a way that he has loved exploring. he explores around 17 bible narratives with a mix of sculptures and collages spread through 5 floors of the exhibition. he has set up studio there and a team are working on a huge collage of the lord's supper to be added in september (the exhibition runs until mid october). i came across david mach's incredible scultpure of christ on the cross - die harder - at gloucester cathedral last year. in a similar vein he has created golgotha which is in the entrance to the exhibition and the only piece you are allowed to photograph - i have added a set here. it is a really powerful exhibition - do go if you possibly can. and the catalogue is incredibly well done - i had to buy it...
david's approach seems to be to make his art from everyday stuff - coathangers, cut outs of magazines... and matches. he has been sculpting heads from matches for decades and they look amazing. for this exhibition he has done christ's head and the devil. the devil looks particularly brilliant. at the start of the exhibition he set fire to the devil in what he describes as a creative act - creative in that it doesn't destroy the piece but makes something else beautiful. he talks about it here on youtube and you can see the devil's head being set alight. this created quite a controversy in the run up to the exhibition because his intention was also to burn christ's head in what he sees as a creative act. i guess it's unsurprising that it caused a stir. like a lot of these kinds of things it depends on how you read it but a burning effigy in the daily mail says one thing. a construction of christ that might stop us seeing other images of christ being burned to see beyond it is another. he may still burn or have burned christ's head - i couldn't catch the latest. pete rolins would love this as the ultimate act of pyrotheology perhaps?!
because harry had a show in the edinburgh festival free fringe i decided to take a few days off work, head up and surprise him by showing up and enjoy some of the festival while there. his show was wonderful - delivered with a lot of confidence and a lot of laughs and an hour whizzed by. it's weird to think that a year ago he only really had two proper poems. i remember when he said he was going to do a gap year focused on poetry wondering how that was going to work but it's been an amazing year and brilliant to watch… if you are in edinburgh next week his show is back on from mon to thurs.
if you've not been to edinburgh festival there is an astonishing amount on in all sorts of arts. there's the official festival, the fringe festival (paid gigs but relatively cheap), the edinburgh art festival (more about in another post), and the free fringe. when you arrive there are so many programmes to pick up it's really quite overwhelming the amount of choice at any one time. and events run in virtually any available space. lots of the free fringe events are in small rooms in basements or the back of pubs like the one harry is in here which seats around 30 people.
[update: since i wrote this entry harry has retained his title in the edinburgh fringe poetry slam winnng for the second year in a row - congrats! and how about this for a wonderful five star review of his show by what's on stage]
i'm writing this on the train wending it's way through the north of england en route to london with a bleary post festival look and feeling. i figure that if i don't blog now it may not happen as a busy week lies ahead...
for several years people have been dreaming of a festival in scotland along the lines of greenbelt and finally last year it was birthed as solas. i went along for the second festival with jenny who was speaking and harry who was performing (rather than me being left home alone)! it has been a quite magical experience. i guess around 5 or 600 people were there and that smallness made it easy to access everything and for a real community feel. there was a big top for a main stage and a few smaller tents with talks and workshops, as well as lots of creative things around the site. the artists were all excellent and it had a real scottish flavour throughout. i have actually come away wondering if every other scot can play the guitar and sing soulful songs as the open mic slots in the glad cafe brimmed with so much talent. it's hard to pick out highlights but rory butler a 20 year old debuting on main stage has got whatever soul is - reminiscent in places of john martin. the butler household is clearly quite extra-ordinary as the rest of the band were family members and the album released at the festival was produced by steve butler (one of whose albums i must have bought 25 years ago).it's wonderful to see families where artistry is somehow just in the air they breathe. then adam stearns was the other complete unknown who bowled people away with his quirky inimitable style. i say the other, but harry also went down incredibly well which was amazing to see.
but it's the essence or spirit that's at the heart of solas that is what makes it special. it's quality, but open and warm and generous and infused throughout with irresistible faith. the team who put it together give of time, money and energy to pull this off. it's fragile but I hope it can ride the challenges of early years and inevitable challenges of finance and gaining support to become a regular fixture in the scottish landscape. something really special has emerged - go along next year. even the weather worked out. i confess I was checking the bbc predictions of heavy rain with despondency ahead of time but aside from a couple of showers it was dry and the sun shone which was a great blessing.
the early years of this sort of thing are particularly exciting i think and it made me wonder what the first greenbelt or big chill was like. and there are little things that i loved. one was the lack of a big commercial feel - artists cds were sold on a small table at the back, corporate sponsors weren't having big slots or plugs. volunteers contributed to their tickets. the communion service was so simple - it was delightful. children just felt part of things rather than separated off.
i was also thinking of the wild goose festival kicking off in the usa and hope their debut was equally magical. i'll add a few photos to flickr when i get back and find a spare moment.
[update - that spare moment has come - a few photos here - solas 2011]
well jenny is speaking and harry performing at solas festival in scotland the last weekend in june. so fairly last minute i have got myself a ticket and am going along as a punter! if you are north of the border and going along maybe see you there? or indeed if you are south of the border and heading up like me maybe see you there? looks like it should be good...
i have added a set of photos of the trip to the isle eilean mor which is part of the mccormaig isles off the bottom of jura in the western isles of scotland. it was a magical trip. this is a view from there across to jura.
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