Science, art and a sprinkling of fairy dust

Category: Music

Robopop

Robotic bells,  Clara 2.0, the ‘polite robot thereminist’ and Edgar Alan Crow: to anyone who knows her – which is an impressively vast and thoroughly deserved fanbase – the words Sarah Angliss automatically follow. Part science, part art, all performance, Angliss’s robotic and hypnotic acts tempt you down meandering paths towards unexpected magical discoveries. While this may seem like hyperbole, her biography speaks for itself:

“My work has been seen at the Brighton Festival Fringe, Coin Street, Gasworks Gallery (Vauxhall), Cheltenham Music and Science Festivals, Final Cut, the Eden Project, Edinburgh International Science Festival,  London Zoo, Placard Headphone Festival,  The Roundhouse, South Bank Centre, Science Museum, Soho Theatre, Southwold Pier, Quake Dance Festival, Winchester Festival of Art and Mind and many other venues.

Alongside my solo projects, I regularly collaborate with other engineers and artists. Recent collaborators include the National Physical Laboratory, Punchdrunk Theatre Company, psychologist Prof Richard Wiseman, dancer Caroline Radcliffe and sculptor and automatist Tim Hunkin among others.

I’ve won a number of awards, include NESTA Dreamtime funding and public engagement grants from the Wellcome Trust.  In 2007, my AV installation Repeat Repeat, in collaboration with performer Caroline Radcliffe, won a Quake Dance Festival Award. My collaborative performances in the Festival Fringe have twice been nominated as  ‘stand-out’ shows of the Brighton Festival.”

And now she’s arranging the aftershow party for Brighton’s first Maker Faire which takes place at The Brunswick on 3rd September. In addition to performing her unique and mindblowing work, Angliss has put together an incredible line-up of fellow artists including Thomas Truax, Jane Bom-Bane, Nick Pynn and FoT favourites, Sawchestra (pictured above) who ran two amazing events for us at Playgroup.

Book your tickets now – you won’t be disappointed.

The Brunswick
Holland Road, Hove, BN3 1FJ
MAP

Buy tickets (£7)

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Children of the revolution

Without Playgroup Festival, the Forest of Thoughts would have remained a thicket in my head. However, the lovely Playgroup team asked me to put together a cabaret tent and it spiralled from there. 140 performers and crew, 200 vintage photographs (thanks, mum), assorted bizarre props and many, many, many hours work later, the idea had turned from a bag of tiny acorns into, well, a Forest of Thoughts.

The entire Playgroup Festival was magical, with incredible decor (so good that I’ll be posting separately about the amazing team who created it) festival-goers dressed as woodland creatures, silly games, incredible walkabout performers, and delicious food and drink (again, more on the individuals behind that in a later post).

And that’s before we even get onto the utterly inspired musical line-up featuring the hottest new acts. This is not hyperbole. Having known the Playgroup team for a year, I’ve already seen several of their featured artists go on to become massively succesful. Quite how the team are so good at A&R, I don’t know – I used to work in the music industry and had an effortless knack for loving and supporting bands who went on to have a staggering lack of success. As such, I think anyone who’s a good A&R must have been dipped in fairy dust that gave them magical powers.

But, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. As such, the above video from Latest TV is worth about 1000,000 words. Watch it and judge the festival for yourself (it’s particularly lovely to see the amazing NGP Security get the praise they deserve. If you’re arranging an event and need security, NGP are by far the best I’ve ever worked with and I’ve heard rave reviews of them from many seasoned promoters.)

Playgroup Festival tickets are now on sale, and if you get in quick, you can take advantage of the Early Early Bird price of £65 (plus booking fee) – but buy now. I have it on good authority that the 100 tickets are moving at an extremely rapid pace so you’ll miss out if you don’t act now.

Step into the Forest of Thoughts

 

Illustration: Kate Shields

Thinking is nice. This was the idea that spurred the creation of the Forest of Thoughts: a place where creative people can come to share their ideas, find collaborative partners, promote their events and find out about events that stimulate the grey matter, whether scientifically, artistically or, better yet, both.

The seedlings for the Forest of Thoughts were planted at Playgroup Festival: if you haven’t heard of it, read the reviews.

Over 140 artists were involved in the Forest of Thoughts alone. As such, rather than listing them in the first post, we’ll be posting profiles of the various individuals and groups involved over time, to help show the amazing diversity of clever, witty, interesting, challenging and creative people, groups and collectives out there. Most of them run regular events which are well worth attending (the rest are individuals who might be persuaded to talk about their given subject if you ask them nicely. Particularly if they have a book to promote or an offer of coffee/cocktails/beer).

However, there are a few people that deserve a particular mention.

Richard Robinson of Brighton Science Festival was a true hero, entertaining the crowd by turning them into a giant brain, delivering science magic galore, and explaining gravity, ably assisted by Ruby DeMure’s lovely pivot.

The glamorous Ruby forms one half of The Flirtinis and, along with the glorious Infinity Favour, provided a sparkling array of entertainment, with a shimmy, a wink and an in-depth understanding of philosophy, comedy and generally interesting ideas.

Miss Hinchliffe (top pic above) and Miss Murgatroyd (immediately above) helped by the amazing Foxy (aka Penny Howe) added even more class to the Forest of Thoughts with their fine tea blend challenge, in which people had to see if they could spot their oolong from their lapsang; ensured everyone on site could stay groomed courtesy of make do and mend workshops; and showed a wonderful selection of vintage  film clips to take the audience back to another, more innocent time. 

Baba, the life-size fortune-telling gypsy puppet, dispensed love voodoo and levitation, before stunning the crowd in the dance tent late at night when the lovely Ellen de Vries took her dancing.

And the Flavour Tripping Edible Garden saw people ingest miracle berries, before sucking on lemons and limes that tasted miraculously sweet as a result. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral (the creators of the installation) sold 120 berries in their first hour, such was the experience. Follow them on Facebook to find out when they’re next around.

And then there were the amazing stage managers and decor team, who I won’t name here as it will mean nothing to most readers and I’d hate to bore you. However, if you’re after recommendations for the most efficient, charming, intelligent and all-round amazing crew it’s possible to get, please get in touch. The team were truly incredible, providing talent, backbone and heart in equal measure.

Come back for more detailed info on all the wonderful performers who added their branch of wisdom to the Forest of Thoughts, and details of their latest events. I’d love to list everyone here but given the number of people involved in the Forest of Thoughts, this would be an unfeasibly long post, so it seems fairest to let them speak for themselves about their wonderful organisations.

If you were at Playgroup Festival and happened to enjoy a stroll in the forest, we’d love your feedback, photos and videos. If not, let us know about any intelligent events that are worthy of mention – and if they have a sense of humour, so much the better.

Come back soon to help us string fairy lights in the trees so that everyone can see things a little more clearly, without destroying any of the magic of discovery.  In the meantime, here’s a video made by the lovely Dan Doherty, which gives a mere taster of the path ahead.