Binsted Arts Festival 2016
Binsted Arts Weekend 2016
Poetry Competition 2016
The 2016 Binsted Festival Blog
‘It was a hugely enjoyable and successful festival,’ one Art Workshop participant, Diana Mitchener, said. ‘I totally understand why Binsted should remain untouched - it is a very special place.’
What is it about Binsted that attracts artists?
Binsted is little known. Or rather, its secret, isolated quality is what it is known for.
‘Binsted! The village the world forgot!’ ‘Binsted! Isn’t it haunted?’
Binsted is certainly haunted by its artistic and literary past, even if not by the ghosts which are often mentioned as having been seen here. The biographer Valerie Grove, author of The Life and Loves of Laurie Lee, came to Binsted on July 10 to speak about Lee in the Festival’s first evening event, ‘Writers and Binsted’s Past’. The evening included a talk by Luke Jennings, author of the family and angling memoir Blood Knots, who spoke about ‘Growing up in Binsted’. Valerie summed up the charm of this tiny village and its setting, between the hidden Binsted valley and the mass of untouched Binsted Woods:
‘Binsted is a wonderful, mystical place, ‘a little gem held in the past’ as one of your competition poems put it, vitally important in the life story of Laurie Lee, many of whose poems were inspired here, and an extraordinary example of a parish unblemished by the modern world, with woodlands and wildflower meadows and the exquisite little Norman church, whose timeless quietness and beauty must surely be left undisturbed in the 21st century.’
How a modest Festival idea became a Feast
Plans for the Festival began in August last year. So unsure were the Committee about the Festival concept that they called Binsted’s first Festival by the more unassuming title, Binsted Arts Weekend. Over that weekend (10-12 June 2016) the Weekend became a Festival, with 4 of the 7 events fully booked and good audiences for the others. It was small, local, celebratory, and great fun.
An important part of the Festival was the link with Walberton, the neighbouring larger village. Forge Gallery in Walberton re-opened to show an exhibition on the theme ‘A Way through the Woods’, which was also the theme for the Poetry Competition. The first event in the festival was a pottery workshop at Forge Gallery, led by Mike Copley.
Local artists with work for sale (Priscilla Ritchie, Mark Weston, and Tim Slatter) showed in the exhibition, and it also included four paintings of more historic interest, by members of the artistic dynasty stemming from that great Binsted personality, Lorna Wishart. Her daughter Yasmin David, and grandson Francis Wishart, were represented, as well as Lorna herself, with her ‘mystical’ portrait of herself and Binsted.
The art theme continued on the Saturday with the guided walk ‘The Art and Literature of Binsted Woods’ - click here to download the Leaflet so you can enjoy the walk for yourself any time.
I led 40 people on a round walk from the Church to the southern part of the woods, through Binsted Park (the mediaeval-style ‘pocket park’ within the woods made by the Read family of Binsted House), and on to Binsted Lane East and the Madonna Pond, then in a round route back to the church.
A printed booklet for each person contained art of or about Binsted by Michael Wishart, Laurie Lee, Ralph Ellis, Lorna Wishart and W.S.Rogers – a little known local artist many of whose 1940s drawing of Binsted are in the Record Office. Readings included excerpts from Michael Wishart’s memoir, High Diver, Laurie Lee’s diaries, and the fishing and family memoir Blood Knots by Luke Jennings, shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson prize in 2010. He had read his account of losing an enormous carp at the Madonna Pond in his talk in Binsted church on the Friday. We read more of it at the Pond itself.
Two of the poems from the Poetry Competition were read on the walk. The other events on the Saturday continued the poetry theme, with Janet Pressley’s talk ‘Poets and the Sussex Landscape’ in the afternoon, and the Poetry Evening and Prize-giving in the evening, with readings from the prize-winning poets and runners-up, and more of her own poems from the judge, Maggie Sawkins.
Sunday morning was the Art Workshop at Stable Cottage led by Matilda Tristram. Each participant made a ‘mini-book’, out of paper they had coloured themselves with ink, then drawn on as they moved about the surroundings.
The festival finished with a much enjoyed appearance by the folk group ‘Cotillion’, Alan Wheeler with Annie, Bonnie and Linda, who performed their anthology show ‘The Last Trip Home’, about the working horse and ox.
Many appreciative comments came our way after the Festival:
Rose Bray, the poet whose poem ‘Raising the Bowman’ won the £100 Sims Williams poetry first prize, said: ‘You all worked so hard to make it a memorable weekend and a successful one. It was lovely to have the poetry evening in the old church which added to the atmosphere.’
Isabel Thurston, a Committee Member and an Art Workshop participant, said: ‘Proud to have been helping out at this lovely event celebrating Binsted and surroundings in lots of creative ways.’
Patricia Hope Scanlan, who lent the pictures by members of the Wishart family to the Exhibition, said: ‘Congratulations on a great weekend of Arts for and about Binsted.’
It was all the brighter for dark clouds in the offing - the road scheme threat
Binsted is threatened by another scheme for a new Arundel Bypass – these have occurred regularly since 1987. It is a worse threat this time than any before, as it bisects the village and its beautiful countryside. We deliberately played down this aspect during the Festival, since we felt it important that Binsted was enjoyed by and for itself, without making it a campaigning event.
A number of people coming to the weekend were aware of the possibility of Binsted being destroyed by the bypass and were keen to express their view after experiencing the kind of place it is and learning about its cultural past and present.
Valerie Grove added ‘It is utterly appalling to think of Binsted being despoiled in this way.’
See www.arundelbypass.co.uk for more on the road threat. Sign our petition there to save this wonderful village.
Binsted Arts Weekend - 10-12 June 2016
The first Binsted Arts Festival took place over the weekend of 10-12 June 2016.
Binsted church events and the workshops and walks were all well attended or over-booked. Many came to learn about, celebrate and enjoy the artistic and cultural heritage of Binsted with a series of events in the creative arts.
The weekend explored what this landscape and its cultural and artistic heritage mean to people; and shared them with a wider audience.Click HERE to read the FULL PROGRAMME (includes directions; file size 3.5MB).
Please direct enquiries about future Binsted Arts Festival bookings please to:
Binsted Arts Weekend Box Office, Stable Cottage, Binsted, Arundel, BN18 0LL.
Events Programme 2016
Date Time Place Event Cost Event details 30 May - 13 June 10.00-17.30 Forge Gallery, Walberton Art Exhibition: A Way Through the Woods Free Theme inspired by Binsted's beautiful landscape. Combines paintings by local artists Priscilla Ritchie, Mark Weston and Tim Slatter with works by members of Binsted's artistic Wishart family: Lorna Wishart, Yasmin David, Francis Wishart. Fri 10 June 14.00-16.00 Forge Gallery, Walberton Workshop led by Mike Copley of Forge Gallery £5 FULL Pottery workshop inspired by the mediaeval Binsted Jug using local clay (materials included in ticket price). To book contact Mike on 01243 554818 or 07771 535278. Fri 10 June 19.30- 21.00 Binsted church Talks by authors Valerie Grove and Luke Jennings, chaired by landscape historian Dr John Godfrey £5
WRITERS & BINSTED'S PAST
Valerie Grove, Laurie Lee’s biographer: ‘Laurie Lee and Binsted’. Luke Jennings, author of a memoir of childhood, ‘Blood Knots’: ‘Growing up in Binsted’.
Sat 11 June 10.00-12.00 Binsted Church Walk and talk in Binsted Woods, led by Emma Tristram Free
Binsted Woods in Art and Literature. About 2 miles, rough terrain, wear walking shoes, or wellies if wet. Sat 11 June 14.00-16.00 Binsted church Talk and poetry readings Free "Poetic Responses to the Sussex landscape" - with local readers; led by Janet Pressley who teaches literature and creative writing to adults. Sat 11 June 19.30-21.00 Binsted church Poetry Evening with Competition Prize-Giving Free Results of the Poetry Competition on the theme, ‘A way through the woods’; commentary by competition judge Maggie Sawkins; readings by competition prize-winners; glass of wine Sun 12 June 10.00-12.00 Stable Cottage, Binsted Watercolour/drawing workshop led by Matilda Tristram £10
Matilda Tristram grew up in Binsted and is Senior Lecturer in Animation at Kingston University. Published work includes graphic memoir watercolour comic book 'Probably Nothing' (Penguin) and online publishing at www.mmaattiillddaa.com. Materials provided; bring own apron. Sun 12 June 15.00-17.00 Binsted church Concert and readings by Cotillion, 'The Last Trip Home' £5 A traditional folk song group with a special interest in songs from the rural history of Sussex, this concert is a celebration of the working horse and ox in song and verse Sun 12 June 18.00-19.30 Forge Gallery, Walberton ‘Wine and nibbles at the gallery’ Free The gallery will be showcasing a selection of local artists, and art about Binsted - last chance to see the exhibition, and meet the Binsted Arts Committee.
Would you consider becoming a Patron of the Binsted Arts Festival?
Some events will be free, others will charge to help with costs. In 2016 we were assisted by grants from West Sussex County Council's Community Initiatives Fund, and Walberton Parish Council, as well as sponsorships from Sims Williams and Binsted Nursery, and private donations.
Please ring Emma Tristram on 01243 551635 if you would like to help with a donation (or cheques can be sent made out to ‘Binsted Arts’ and sent to Camilla Lambert, Shirley Park, Yapton Lane, Walberton, BN18 0AN). Anyone donating £25 or more will be listed as a Patron unless you would prefer to remain anonymous.