Views from our Deep Roots Festival
Arts Destination South Molton, undaunted by the impossibility of holding a live fun-filled festival weekend this year – to be based on our already well-developed plans for 2020 (also cancelled “beyond our control”!) – has managed an “opening-up” series of festival weekends this year. Deep Roots Festival in June was all online; the one in July was socially distanced, and we are hoping that for most of our September weekend our audiences will be as we normally expect them!
All online events in June – also positively known as watching from the comfort of your own home with your family and pets around you – included the TV comedian Patrick Monahan, who performed a unique show especially for us in South Molton from the comfort of his London house with his pet dog, Pedro, for company. The long-haired cat in Roborough – and the black and white cat with its family of four – differed greatly in their attitude to the show: one showing remarkable perkiness throughout and the other sleeping all the time! This was not unremarked by Patrick, who used it to comic effect!
Another of our exciting Zooms showcased two local musicians, Jo Preston and Tom Bayliss playing as a trio with Art Destination South Molton’s patron, the acclaimed flautist, Ashley Solomon, on the edge of Exmoor in musician Lorraine Homewood’s stunning Roundhouse. It was a sunny, lively, and, even emotional, evening: the range of classical music in differing combinations of piano, recorder and flute across the centuries and from around the world stirred deep feelings and gave great pleasure. All the music was enhanced by warm, well-chosen and easily accessible introductions to the pieces.
We were also royally entertained and entranced by nationally famous performance poet, Liv Toc, who renamed us all and got us to write our own haikus online; informed and enlightened by the Silver Dagger award-winning crime author, Ann Cleeves, who told us, amongst other literary morsels, about her two latest novels set in North Devon – The Long Call and The Heron’s Cry; and intrigued and fascinated by the young Devon dancer Maya Bodiley’s film, Speaking in Tongues, which she not only choreographed but also filmed in Northern Spain – and edited, especially for our show!
Socially distanced in July: we managed two fascinating presentations in the marvellous setting of the Hexagon at Quince Honey Farm. The rough-hewn wood building in its setting in the midst of untamed gardens, chimed with our rural aspirations for the festival, as did the talks. The first by science and environmental journalist Myc Riggulsford and the second, given by Head Gardener at Quince, Pip Howard. Both talked about trees; Myc about the ancient Charter of the Forest and its relevance today, and Pip about the importance of trees in our landscape generally, and to bees in particular.
This was succeeded by Old Favourites, poetry presented by Dr Richard Westcott; which was a Deep Roots Festival/South Molton Library collaboration. The audience of 14 were super keen and friendly; all arrived early – clearly excited to be at An Event! The Garden Room, in the Amory Centre, worked perfectly as an intimate, but well-ventilated, Covid-safe venue. Without exception the audience came away very happy: one respondent said it was perfect, another enjoyed it enormously, one said it should have been longer! Thanks to Richard for generating such joy: “Old Favourites” was a very positive experience and left everyone with merrier hearts and smiles on their faces.
We were exceedingly privileged to be able to hold a light-hearted, classical musical concert in the welcoming – and acoustically good – setting of South Molton Methodist Church. We were equally fortunate that the local wind quartet, Giocoso, agreed to play for us. The music they played was a playful as their name suggests: including Handel’s Water Music to an arrangement of English Country Gardens, a medley of melodies from Gilbert and Sullivan and to end with, a breathless-romp through Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture – complete with audience-fired canons, in the form of party poppers! All the excitement was topped off by a delicious cream tea.
In September: most audiences as we normally expect them!
On the evening of Monday 20th September, Hester Berry heralds the Festival online, with a Zoom portrait class.
On Saturday afternoon 25th September at South Molton Assembly Rooms, Gordon McKerrow will show the première of his film Capturing South Molton made by, with, and for South Moltonians. A cream tea will follow!
We return to the Hexagon at Quince Honey Farm on the morning of Sunday 26th September for another inspiring live talk by Myc Riggulsford; followed by “In Conversation” with Katy Lee, who will talk about her community-participating Ode to The Ash Tree Poetry Project and the book of poems which accompanies it.
Early on Sunday afternoon 26th Katy Lee will lead a group around the Community Woodlands to demonstrate her project in its setting.
Throughout the weekend Beth Pedlar will lead a two-day pet portrait workshop at Filleigh Village Hall.
On the evening of Monday 27th September our Festival season closes, online, with Exmoor artist, Luna North talking about her art and inspiration with local author, Claire Barker.
For more information click here.
We hope to see you at one of our next events somewhere, sometime soon!