Hope Festival

Hope Festival 2nd – 5th June 2006. This was a real training ground for my woodworking skills. It was the first time that we set up the pole lathe and shave horse outside the community project. Obviously with all those kids about there would be a concern for safety of equipment. But the weekend started with a reality check when, taking down the yurt, discovered it to be filthy dirty from underneath the trees in its old location. This was due to the honeydew that drips from them causing a black sooty mould to appear. Secondly, the bottom of the canvas had rotted where it dragged on the ground and held water in its folds. The insects moved in and consequently it tore along the seam. The solution here would be to cut it and re-sew it, the shorter length benefiting with a lack of drag. So washing it proved a long job and I didn’t get to the festival ‘til the evening of Friday. The weather was fine and it was an enjoyable experience to put it up. At one stage there was four of us erecting it, but as the situation may be, it is always a case of teaching everyone to do it properly. The best method was to stake out a circle beforehand, and this prevents messing around. Jose, the organiser of the piano bar, decorated the interior with lovely hangings. As a sacred space it was imperative that children govern its use. Consequently, we got them to dig for clay at the nearby ditch and form a sculpture inside, whilst Tracey did some environmental art with them and hung their pieces. A sign quickly went up, ‘No boozers allowed’. Amelia also done some spinning and I managed to do some turning on the lathe. The weekend was grand and tiring. Showing extra attention to the kids using side axes and chisels can take it out of you, whilst setting up the lathe to get it right proved to be a learning experience. The weekend progressed with music all night long. Amelia told some stories and the sculpture, supposedly a cat, turned into a tawny owl. Its eschewed posture, with one eye facing the door, reminded one of the need to keep vigilant. The final day saw a flourish of activity in readiness for the procession. A Re-LEAF banner was made with leaves around the edges. The sculpture was painted and a slot made in the top for donations to drop in, since in the interior was an upturned basket. Kids were getting painted up, lanterns were being made elsewhere and instruments drawn and at the ready. With a hoot and a strum we set off in a great circle. I was painted up as the Green Man whilst being pursued by vampires, cats and other creatures. The Sunday ended with a little kid making a candlestick, the joy on his face warranting a handshake. But I took the opportunity to enjoy my yurt so every night placed t-lights inside jars to welcome the kids in, or anyone else. I slept well in the yurt. The following day, when most had gone, proved to be full on. I spent the time cutting a doorway in the oven in preparation for some cooking, and once the fire had got going, the kids wrapped potatoes in sliver foil, and ate them with beans. We tried making some cake but it didn’t work, but it was fun. The final act, as the oven sculpture burned and crumbled, was for the kids to take some of the parts away with them, including the nose, eyes, and ears – great permaculture.