We are starting to look towards next years festival season at Teapot Tower, getting a feel for where SingleMaltTeapot might be a good fit and where my spoons and courses might find a little spot of their own over a (fingers crossed) warm summer weekend. I put a lot of importance in how a festival feels and the sort of atmosphere that it creates so it seemed like a good time to natter about my time behind a lens at one that really got it right, The Goodlife Experience in Hawarden.
It’s not that often that I start a shoot by pitching my own accommodation (though by no means the first) but in glorious sunshine it does set a wonderful tone for the weekend ahead, a calmer and more relaxed experience without the immediate rush to squeeze everything possible out of a limited time.
It’s something that really seems to be promoted by the festival, the wonderful folk at Pedlars and the acts and exhibitors there. From the very first moment you are encouraged to take your time, to listen and connect with the experiences on the festival site. I suppose that is the essence of 'the good life', though sought in different ways it is a hope for a life connected to the ground beneath our feet and things we can touch and make.
I was lucky enough to have a shot list of artists, makers and impact makers and as I introduced myself to each found incredibly warm welcomes and people who wanted to talk and share their passions. It was something that was apparent across the site, curious people talking to enthusiastic makers. A long standing fan of Amanda Banham’s fantastic ceramics, I was looking forward to the chance to put a face to our occasional Instagram and email correspondence. In a bustling circus tent I made my way to Amanda’s table, met with a wide smile but quickly surrounded by festival goers fascinated by the ceramics on show (I can entirely see why) and it was entirely lovely to see. I made a quiet goodbye with a wave and let folk enjoy their time, this group of people who were doing more than simply picking things up and coveting them, they cared how they were made and how that connected to their own feelings and that was quite wonderful.
As I explored my way further through the exhibitors I would find excited and passionate Gin makers, fire pit diggers and bush crafters. I could not get through a blog on the festival though without mentioning the wonderful folk from Doodle Planet. The playful and color rich art, blown up from charismatic doodles and painted in a number of mediums was amazing. That they nattered with me, fed me sweets and allowed me to geek out with them about art toys and lost hours flicking through Hi Fructose was pretty darn lovely. Like so much of the festival I am sure they were gloriously welcoming to everyone but I am super glad I got to hang out with them for a bit.
As afternoon became evening I took up residence in the Caught By The River tent (rather made up at the chance to see headliners Stealing Sheep, hey, we can all have a fan boy moment right?) and was treated to a fantastic collection of bands and live sets, eagerly lapped up by an attentive and appreciative audience.
Like the sights on my day time wandering the evenings bands felt perfectly curated for this happy and welcoming crowd.
The festival was a marker for the sort of experiences that I hope to find and for SIngleMaltTeapot be a part of throughout 2017 and beyond. Places that we can connect with folk and to introduce them not only to our creations but to a passion for making, to nerd out with creators about how and what they do and to be part of a growing movement to become more connected to the world we are walking on. These are the places you’ll find us excitedly and proudly being a part of, may there be many of them.
For more info on The Goodlife Experience you can head here - www.thegoodlifeexperience.co.uk
The lovely folk over at Pedlar's can be found here - www.pedlars.co.uk
Amanda Banham's gorgeous ceramics - www.amandabanham.com
Keep an eye on everything Doodle Planet - www.doodleplanet.co.uk
Do you have a festival you adore? Are you organising or helping to set up a fledgling festival? Let us know in the comments so we can check them out and find the most wonderful experiences the UK festival family has to offer.
My weekend of wandering at the festival left me with far to many photos to pop into the blog. For a greater look at the sights of The Goodlife Experience I have put up a gallery of some of my favourite shots from the weekend. You'll find it in the photography drop down at the top of the page or just click one of the images below.