Science, art and a sprinkling of fairy dust

Join the Stone Circle at Latitude

We’ve long been huge fans of Latitude Festival at the Forest of Thoughts, and were excited to be asked to take part in the festival again this year.

The theme for the Faraway Forest this year is, ‘Tomorrow’s World: It Takes a Village’. We interpreted this to mean the future will be more collaborative. We have no idea if tech will still exist in the future – who knows what will happen as we run out of resources? – but stones have been used to communicate since the earliest times and will be around long after humans are extinct – so we decided to create a stone circle (albeit one with rather smaller stones than some of the more permanent stone circles).

After growing the love last year at Latitude, we wanted to continue to involve festival-goers in the art that we make. We also wanted to make a piece of art that allowed people to take parts of it away, as well as adding to it.

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In part, this was inspired by having our Love sign stolen last year. We figured that if people were going to take our art, we may as well make that part of the point. (NB: If you took it, we would love it if you could return our love – we won’t tell you off and we’ll even give you a thank-you present for returning it. )

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We’d love it back as it forms part of a larger sign that is now rather more open ended… It had survived several years at festivals and we’d love to keep reusing it at future events (we don’t judge you for taking it – everyone needs love sometimes and we’d rather it brought someone joy than sitting in a cupboard between festivals).

Add a Stone…

Our piece, Stone Circles, encourages people to, ‘Add a stone, take a stone, share a stone’. It comprises circles of painted stones, as the name suggests, and anyone can add their stone, or take a stone as they wish.

We particularly want Stone Circles to help artists with invisible (and not so invisible) illnesses have an opportunity to take part in the art, as we’re all about creating inclusive art. If you want to go to Latitude but are unable to due to health (or for any other reason), please send a stone to Latitude with a friend and we will add it to the stone circle.

Stones can be any size, from pebbles to around 10cm, (but please don’t send boulders as it’s a tad mean to your friends who will have to lug it over a festival site.) We will be taking photos of the stone circles over the course of the weekend so you can see your stone in place at Latitude – and see whether someone takes it from the circle.

If there’s a quote or poem that means something to you, you can include that on your stone. Or maybe there’s a word you want to spread wider (I love the word Petrichor: the glorious smell that can follow the rain)? Perhaps there’s a message you want people to know. If it will fit on a rock, include it. You could even include a short musical score or piece of code on your stone: it really is up to you how you communicate through the stone.

You can also paint a stone to memorialise someone who is no longer alive. Help their name live on with a stone: as the late and missed Terry Pratchett said, “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” and “No-one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…”   (RIP, Terry – we’ll be speaking your name for a long time yet…)

Tag a Stone

You can include whatever hashtag or website address you want on your stone, or use #LatitudeRocks if you don’t have a rockpainting tag you already use. Some popular rock-painting groups include Love on the Rocks UKLove Rocks and Kindness Rocks – all sentiments we agree with, and there are also numerous local groups to join on Facebook, or you can create/promote your own hashtag.  You can promote your business too but please don’t be tacky about it.  We don’t want corporate-looking stones that make it feel as if the circle is a piece of advertising. We’re happy for performers at Latitude to use stones to promote their shows too.

Some people don’t use hashtags on their stones at all, and that’s fine: it’s entirely up to you to decide what and how to communicate using your stone. However, please don’t use any swearing (there are children at the festival), and don’t stick anything such as googly eyes or any other plastic to your rock: it could fall off and harm wildlife. Use paint that isn’t going to flake off easily, and seal your stone with varnish to make your image last (or leave it unsealed if you like the idea of your art fading with time.) If you want to use glitter, please only use biodegradable glitter as we no longer use micro-plastic glitter in our work (aside from the glitter on props we are still using from years ago, before we realised what a problem glitter can be for the environment.)

Take a Stone…

As well as adding stones, you can take any stones that you feel drawn to. We believe art is for all – as William Morris said, “I do not want art for a few any more than education for a few, or freedom for a few.” You can take more than one stone if you feel drawn to several of them.

We do ask that you don’t sell stones you take without giving a percentage to a charity that matters to you, unless you really need to. If you are skint and think a stone will sell, that’s fine but we’d rather the stones are used to help people rather than simply line someone’s pockets out of greed – and ideally, we’d love the stones to keep getting hidden and re-hidden (though we couldn’t help but feel sorry for this woman who wanted some love.)

Share a Stone…

If you do take a stone, it would be great if you could hide it in your home town on your return, to keep the stone circle going, though you can just keep it as a memory, of course. Please share photos of any rocks you hide/find on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with @GrowEatGift, #LatitudeRocks, so we can see how far they travel (if you’re going travelling, we’d love it if you take a stone with you to hide so we can see how far the stone circle can expand.).

Connect Through the Stones at Latitude

You don’t have to be Van Gogh to join in – even writing a word on a stone, or painting it a single colour are welcome, as are stones painted by people of any age: it’s your art, and we don’t judge (as William Morris also said, “It is the childlike part of us that produces works of the imagination. When we were children time passed so slow with us that we seemed to have time for everything.” As you may be able to tell, Morris – and his daughter, May Morris – are both huge inspirations for our work.) You can sign your rock with a Sharpie, include a website address with your artist’s portfolio on it, or draw an anonymous image. You could even carve it if you want

Stone Circles is about connecting with each other, and nature in general. How far can we make the stone circle ripple? It depends on how many people get involved… So, if you’re going to Latitude, ask people you love to paint a stone to take with you (maybe your gran or baby sister would like her art at a festival?). If you have a friend who’s said they can’t come due to illness, offer to take a stone for them. If you want to send a stone but don’t know anyone going to the festival, contact us on Twitter through @GrowEatGift.

We’re really looking forward to Latitude. If you’d love to go but are skint, there are still volunteer opportunities available. We’d love to see you at Latitude – but for now, we have stones to paint…

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Growing the Love at Latitude Festival

This year, the Forest of Thoughts were invited to join the faerie folk of the Faraway Forest at Latitude Festival to help them grow nature love.

We took along crafting materials, Magic Dust (kindly provided by The Crop Club as fairyland stocks weren’t enough to give to the Latitude crowds) and lots of ideas from Go Wild! Over 200 Ways to Connect With Nature.

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Wood Elf, Prickles Nettlethorn, shared his knowledge of the forest, and shared the sad news that the Tree of Life was under the weather thanks to a moth. However, it’s luckily not terminal.

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Fairy Daisy and Prickles asked the humans to wish it ‘get well soon’ with some tree hugging. The humans were impressively heartfelt and the faerie folk are hopeful it will help the tree.

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Fairy Clover modelled her wings, which Fairy Daisy had made for her from a cardboard box.

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Both fairies were excited to discover pizza boxes galore on site as these also make a great base for fairy wings (contrary to popular belief, fairy wings don’t last forever, and as fairies age they may need to replace thinning wings with a home-made replacement.)

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Fairy Clover shared rainbow magic with the humans, and grew the love by handing out Magic Dust .

The elves and fairies also gave out magical creations made from human rubbish, and bird seeds so the humans could show love to birds as well as butterflies and bees.

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The faerie folk learned that human children love climbing trees – though the Tree of Life is old so the small humans had to be reminded that sadly, not all trees are well enough to be climbed. It was perhaps the biggest challenge for the faerie folk as the spirit of tree elf was clearly high in the children.

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Prickles was ably assisted in this mission by Hops Burdock – a tree elf who could empathise with the small ones’ desire to climb trees.

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After sharing their woodland wisdom, the faerie folk headed back to camp.

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Prickles had a well-deserved rest, changing into human clothes ‘to see what the fuss was all about’.

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He soon returned to elf clothes, deeming them more practical as human clothes had nowhere to store his goblet.

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As the sun set, we toasted the day with fairy fizz and looked forward to Sunday’s session.

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We were excited when the Arbonauts serenaded us with birdsong in a magical sound installation upon our arrival at the Tree of Life.

After revelling in beautiful music, we continued growing the love, distributing enough magic dust to plant over 60,000 wildflowers, and telling tales of shrinking trees and the wood wide web.

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We were pleased to see other faerie folk at the Tree of Life.

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We told people about #LoveNotLitter: a simple way to grow the love. Just litter pick then craft LOVE with natural finds to encourage people to love the world rather than littering it with rubbish.

We’d love to see your photos if you do this: share them with @groweatgift using #LoveNotLitter and we’ll share your art.

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And then, it was time to return to camp, to watch the fire and see the stories of the flames unfold – in this case, the story of the griffin.

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All too soon, It was time to leave the fairyland of Latitude behind. We hope we grew the love – and that the humans who took magic dust will use it to grow the love even further; and spread #LoveNotLitter wherever they go.

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The faerie folk of the Faraway Forest had a wonderful time, and will be saving their magic dust in the hope that they will be able to grow to human size again for Latitude next year. It was much more fun than avoiding getting trampled by the humans – and they have a lot more love to spread.

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