Monday 26 August 2019

Imber Village & The Delaware Road

So Ian and myself set off from Cornwall on  a Saturday morning to Salisbury Plain - bright and early as the A303 is likely to be gridlocked. Traffic was pretty slow, we took the turnoff past the horror that is the Stonehenge Experience,and then...after a while..
  along this single track road across the Plain, on roads that are built for tractors and moving troops around.

There’s a lot of vintage  red double decker London buses out, and lots of people out for the day. This is the one weekend of the year that the public are allowed into the Imber ghost village.

This village was evacuated in 1943 - and has been used for military training ever since. There’s lots of signs up telling you not to pick up anything that might be an unexploded bomb..well I go for a pee in the bushes behind the car park and find this little unusual metal kind of thing, that looks like it may be some sort of a detonator, er maybe the sort of a thing that a person might pick up and it blows their arm off…so maybe I won’t take that home with. me.

So there’s the village of Imber, presenting very post-Brexit image of rural England, families picnicking by the barbed wire that surrounds the 16th century  church, a windowless pubs and farmhouses..the militray industrial complex rooted in the chocolate box rural.

Somehow there’s a bit of  a Scarfolk vibe going on ---  time has become a loop – and we’re living through a time of power cuts and UFO sightings and cold war paranoia and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
So after while, we set off to the New Zealand farm, where this Delaware Road festival is happening in - just back down the track a bit. It's a military training site surrounded by barbed wire & surveillance towers . My bag gets  checked over by security --- no they aren’t suppositories, they’re earplugs----

The hidden history of the 20th century....

The camp site is good and has clean enough portaloos. There’s a couple of spent bullet cases where we pitch the tent.

 I’m guessing there’s an air of paranoia in the concept behind this festival, but I have to say, in the past I’ve been to some seriously bleak and fairly scary  pop festivals, this was in no way one of them.. This one is lovely, there’s a set of concrete buildings, called STONE TENTS, with some spaces as big as a sitting room, some as big as maybe a classroom, and a biggish Nissen hut for the main stage. And most of it is indoors, so there’s very little sound leakage form one venue to another. It’s ideal for left field electronic music and sound and video installations, and that’s what there are here.

A beautiful re-purposing of a space normally used to train people to kill other people. Well, if you don’t think too hard about that, it’s great.

The beer is good and there are number of trajectories I could have taken.. there’s a few faces I recognise: snookering synth superstar Steve Davis is here, the Well Weird West crew from Yeovil have a bunker to themselves, there's people we see on the weirdy music circuit - if there is such a thing..

Theres' something strange set up in the back of a van:

There’s 40 acts in 10 hours, and mostly there’s about three things I want to see on at once.

Best thing is to give up on planning and just wander around....

 Here’s some of things I did see:
Alison Cotton – melancholic viola
Cukoo –great  synth pop 

Penny Rimbaud doing a Q;A about the old days in Crass and then some of his beatnik poetry

A documentary film about Wally Hope (that voice on the phone sounds familiar)

Sarah Angliss gives  talk on a man who sold fall out shelters in the 80s and the ridiculous Protect and Survive monthly magazine.
Ian Helliwell – with some sort of tiny video projecting sound to light &;what looks like a battery powered interociter  on his desk.

Howlround –– in a room crammed with people and tripped out projections. –

Sequential – a  video installation , mesh screen and normal screen with soundtrack left running. Blurry mix of mayday, folk festivals, fires, and flashes of magical symbols and map references and computer code on mesh screen

Kemper Norton – the missing link between Cornish folk and techno youth on mushrooms
Ekoplekz –– I hope somebody recorded what he was doing
Cattle (heavy metal two drummers & very popular here)
Lone Taxidermist – very very loud and playing two human spines

..a siren goes off... a procession with green faced morris men ...

A’Bear  -lovely happy uplifting dancey stuff, this fixed my aching back.

it's all a blurr..but..

An amazing bit of organisation by
All in all a brilliant weekend!

Jill Smith: The Gypsy Switch.

Jill Smith
The Gypsy Switch.
Book review.

It’s the early 1980s. Jill had up till then been a partner and collaborator with the artist Bruce Lacey,

but finding the relationship dissatisfying, made a break from “ritual” performance art

and took to the road,  seeking something possibly more meaningful, personal and authentic.

Jill split from the  rest of the Lacey family to follow the route of the “Gypsy Switch”, a search for meaning on a route which is never properly explained. It’s some sort of a terrestrial zodiac, a forgotten route taken by travellers, centred on Arbor Low, that somebody has drawn on a piece of paper and given to her.

She hitch hikes alone, the length and breadth of the country, sleeping in the open air and taking very long walks to Neolithic sites which were at that time mostly forgotten.
Along the way, she gives birth in a tepee village in Wales, somehow blags sponsorship for a detour to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and then back in Norfolk joins an obscure theatre troupe that wanders the countryside in simple wagons covered in blue plastic tarpaulins towed along by ponies, her son Taliesin in a sling around her shoulders.

It’s a very personal and subjective story, it describes what it used to like to hitchhike and wander the land far more freely that you can nowadays. All along there is a very personal and sometimes rambling dialogue with what is happening in the here and now, the threat of global annihilation. A small part in the resistance to the military industrial complex at Greenham Common and the growth of a feminine goddess consciousness and deep connection and integration with the Earth mother, and animals as much as people.

It’s part of a lost history of possibilities and imaginings that existed for a brief moment in time, before these kinds of cheap experimental, lifestyles were so brutally suppressed by the forces of exploitative landlordism and the constant monitoring by the judgmental gaze of the ubiquitous mobile phone screen.

See also: