PORT ELIOT FESTIVAL
A weekend of making, music and impromptu creativity at the Hole & Corner Makers' Tent
Port Eliot truly is a magical experience – I’m biased of course. It could be the Cornish Rattler cider still talking but this event, nestled in amongst the verdant grounds of Port Eliot House, is a picturesque festival idyll. With little or no effective mobile reception, you must release yourself to this place and be present in mind, body, spirit; open to new experiences and community. From creative talk in the Walled Garden to new facts on weather phenomena by the river (there was a blue moon – two full moons in a month whilst we were there); from making something in paper, leather, wood or clay to the glorious communal cheer in response to a late night disco classic.
We at Hole & Corner created our own world within this world, a makers' tent there to reflect the values of the magazine we produce quarterly. It was a space to celebrate craft, beauty, passion and skill – and to engage and empower festival-goers with a joy of making.
We had experts working in wood, with the prolific (certainly both in name and nature) showing visitors how to make their own egg boards, beach bats or boot jacks as well as building – with offcuts brought from their workshop – a magnificent #myholeandcorner structure with the help of Alice Blogg and many other active volunteers. Sebastian Cox Studiogave us a weekend master-class in wood weaving, creating their own Landscope; this interpretation of the #myholeandcorner theme is now sited to provide visitors with a view of the viaduct overlooking Port Eliot. Bill Amberg brought in a whole new level of luxury to the space, encouraging festival-goers to make their own designer belts from the highest quality leather over the course of two days. Tortie Hoare revealed some of the secrets to ‘cuir bouilli’ a medieval boiled leather technique, whilst Zoe Bradley and her team helped visitors create spectacular paper flowers.
Potters Jacob Bodilly, Billy Lloyd and Steph Buttle offered ceramics workshops and pot throwing lessons that manifested in a weekend-long impromptu ceramics making session – many kids (and parents) spent hours working on their creations on any surface available.
Aboubakar Fofana shared some fascinating insights into the process of indigo dyeing. (You can discover more about his techniques and philosophy in Issue 06 of Hole & Corner, out now). Meanwhile, South West local Robin Mackenzie demonstrated his intricate printmaking skills to groups of engaged onlookers. (He was to be found in his own #myholeandcorner - a huge lime tree - of an evening!) A special mention must go to Jeremy Atkinson, England’s only traditional clogmaker – who sold his own clogs to a man desperate to have a pair to wear to work the next week. Atkinson, with his singular, purist vision, is a true disciple to his craft and his work embodies our values so much that one of his clogs is next issue’s cover star.
However, the true spirit of Hole & Corner could have not been achieved without music. I’m not sure how many makers' tents have been filled so consistently with such a fecundity of gorgeous, lyrical music – thanks to Seamus Fogarty, Sweet Baboo, Meilyr Jones, Oliver Coates, Rozi Plain and Stealing Sheep. Or how often a craft tent has been so successfully adjoined with ‘dancing on the seats’ disco vibes! So a big thank you also to Stephen Bass at Moshi Moshi Records &Amateurism DJs Leo Walton, Rob Leggatt and indomitable guests Pete Fowler and Pete Wiggs for being part of it all.
Finally, a huge thank you to AFFINITY with Plymouth University (check out their lively blog with a range of reviews on other goings-on at the festival this year) and Cathy St Germans who made it possible for us to be at Port Eliot Festival. We look forward to doing all again - and even better in 2016!