A variety of colours, outfits and locations as I ambled around Wilderness
Last weekend was one of spectatorship and spectacle. I was enjoying the wonders of Wilderness festival with my friend Flo, courtesy of Hunter boots. Perhaps our time there is best described through a series of snapshots, or short recollected reels of footage. There was the cold lake full of swimmers, all of us held by the green expanse and occasional clumps of weeds. The life-drawing tent, hushed apart from the scrape of charcoal as we sketched limbs and outlines. A valley filled with masked revelers at midnight. The ‘village hall’ decked out with bunting and scrabble boards. Stalls devoted to the flash and flicker of sequins. Flags in the breeze. Burnt orange sunsets. Art instillations. Large crowds. Queues for coffee. Plenty of tutus, feathers, glitter and other magnificent costumes (the atmosphere of a music festival does seem a little like the modern day version of Bakhtin’s writing on Carnivalesque).
Then there was the food. It was a rare treat to forgo pre-festival plans on how to make pasta and salad stretch across three days. Instead, thanks to Hunter we could indulge. We had stone baked pizzas with oil dripping everywhere, a chunk of blue cheese with chutney and crackers for our second lunch, crumpets with smoked salmon as a decadent 1am snack. I booked a Sunday feast in the St John dining tent, meaning my first taste of snails (a little like garlicky leaf mulch in a good way) and a mouth-watering roast. In between these highlights there were brownies, breakfast muffins and breadsticks with olives. But perhaps the highpoint was taking our boxes of J Sheekey fish and chips and rowing across the lake. We sat in the soft bronze light of early evening, fingers greasy as we ate. Occasionally one of us would grab an oar to steer us out of the way of a looming bank or other boat.
Music became an integral bonus, rather than the sole focus. Sam Lee’s set was short but perfect, utterly suited to the sunny Saturday afternoon. Tom Odell’s stage presence was infectious. Penny Arcade Quartet's four-part acapella group were incredible with their Daft Punk cover and Destiny’s Child/ BeeGees and R Kelly/ Marvin Gaye mash ups. Many of the more extraordinary performances weren’t purely musical. We also saw physical theatre, dance and aerial artistry. Transe Express had an entire band suspended from the struts of a metal ‘petal’ that expanded, contracted and rotated high in the night sky. Seeing bells and drums played in mid-air will be hard to forget. Les Pepones specialised in dizzying acrobatic feats with their performers swinging from one pair of hands to another through the dark evening. The capacity of the human body became wholly compelling as we wondered what flip or stunt might come next.
After days full of activity, Flo and I took pleasure in the ritual of dressing up. The sturdy shorts and shirts of daytime were replaced with sprawling sixties prints, vintage velvet and home-made beaded mask for me - geometric jumpsuits and fringing for her. We assumed our characters and painted our lips. Then the wellies were pulled back on for the hours of dancing ahead.
Flo looking fabulous, as she always does
All photos of me are courtesy of Flo's eye for framing, light and a good background. The ones above were taken with her camera, those below the result of a Lomo workshop she attended. You can see more of her work here. Glad to have a visual record of us in our finery. Thanks again to Hunter (you can see some more snippets from the festival on their Instagram.)