• Impressions of the 2016 Binsted Arts Festival

      • It's Friday morning 10 June; after months of planning we're here at last, decorating St Mary’s, Binsted's tiny medieval church, in excited anticipation of the first Binsted Arts Weekend. Armfuls of foxgloves, red campion and moon daisies fill the church with early summer fragrance. While we are busy, potter Mike Copley is busy too, leading the Weekend's first workshop, motivating would-be potters to be inspired by Binsted's own medieval pottery.The Forge Gallery is also the venue for the Weekend’s exhibition of art, influenced by Binsted’s beautiful ancient woodland and rural countryside.

        Early evening and the little church is full.  We are squeezed into every corner to hear author Luke Jennings’ memories of growing up in Binsted and author and journalist Valerie Groves’ reflections on Laurie Lee’s romance with Binsted.  As we sit enthralled, the evening light fading, bathing the church in a dusky glow, we are not disappointed.

        Saturday 11 June, a day steeped in the past and in the literary romance of Binsted and Sussex too. The morning walk led by Emma and Mike Tristram takes us through Binsted's woods, her medieval fields and across The Park, an attempt in the early 1800s to gentrify the land around the old Manor House with a ha-ha and grand oaks.  Readings by the Madonna pond and in the woods bring Binsted’s history to life.

        We return to the little church in the afternoon and are wrapped in the musical harmony of a local folk group, setting the mood for a beautifully illustrated talk by Janet Pressley tracing five centuries of poetry about Sussex.

        More traditional folk music in the evening as we wait eagerly for the results of the first Binsted Arts Poetry Competition, introduced by poet Maggie Sawkins.  Poetry and wine flow luxuriantly and a warm, still evening ends a very special day in the life of this very special village.  And we still have Sunday to look forward to!

        It’s Sunday morning, 12 June and the Weekend’s second workshop, led by artist and writer Matilda Tristram, is taking place around the kitchen table in Stable Cottage and the garden beyond, using mixed media to capture Binsted’s magic.  Everyone enjoyed the fun and freedom of creating their very own Binsted booklet.

        The afternoon concert with folk music and readings by Cotillion fills the little church with traditional music, beautiful tunes and lovely voices.  A blissful moment in time, listening by the open church door, the music harmonising with the peaceful bucolic view beyond.

        The following week the Committee meets to talk over the Weekend; sharing the wide range of accolades received from our visitors and planning for Summer 2017, suggesting many possible and exciting events - watch this space!

        Sue McGowan