Sunday, September 14, 2014

London, Wales, and Festival No.6 - a recent vacation - part two of two

And on the seventh day of their trip was the festival...

We spent the next four days in Portmeirion for Festival No. 6. It was an amazing experience and we are already pondering going back next year. Rather than stick to the day-by-day format of my last post, I'll lead you through the festival topic by topic.

"To begin at the beginning..."

The Prisoner

To those of you who are wondering if next year it will be Festival No. 7, you need to know a little about the late 1960's show, The Prisoner. As wikipedia says, "The series follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious coastal village resort where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job." Everyone in the village had a number rather than a name and this particular secret agent was number 6. Although the interior filming was done on sound-stages, almost all of the exterior shots were filmed in Portmeirion. They did not need to build a surreal location for this ahead-of-its-time show, the location was already there. There's more I would love to tell you, but instead you simply should watch it and then we'll talk.

The Prisoner - Reenactments

A fan group called "6 of One" dressed as characters from the show and reenacted scenes from it. They wandered about the village and turned up here and there.
Human chess game reenactment

Number 2's chair

Mini moke - the taxi cabs in the show

"Be seeing you" salute

I turned around during a concert at one point
and saw this going on in the audience.

The Village

The set of the prisoner and the place where we stayed is known as "the village". It is where most of the buildings in Portmeirion are. The collection of architecture is eclectic, but somehow it works and does feel planned out. The bright pastel colors add to that. Here's some more from wikipedia about the history of the village:
Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion's designer, denied repeated claims that the design was based on the town of Portofino, Italy. He stated only that he wanted to pay tribute to the atmosphere of the Mediterranean. He did, however, draw from a love of the Italian village stating, "How should I not have fallen for Portofino? Indeed its image remained with me as an almost perfect example of the man-made adornment and use of an exquisite site."[1] Williams-Ellis designed and constructed the village between 1925 and 1975. He incorporated fragments of demolished buildings, including works by a number of other architects. Portmeirion's architectural bricolage and deliberately fanciful nostalgia have been noted as an influence on the development of postmodernism in architecture in the late 20th century. -- wikipedia
During the Festival the big stages are out in the fields, but there are a few stages in the village. Also access to the village is only during the day, so as one of those staying in the village we had the privilege of exploring it day and night.

The Woods

Beyond the village are miles of trails in the woods. They would be magical on their own since they are like the US Pacific NorthWest forests that have mossy trees and dense vegetation. It is the perfect setting for a fantasy novel ... and a festival. As you walk upon the trails, you turn a corner, and there you find a DJ, or a stage, or an artist. One of the stages was called "Lost in the Woods" and I certainly would have been happy to have stayed lost in the woods coming upon random wonder after another. Some of those things we came upon are pictured here.

Our favorite oasis in the woods was Hole and Corner (H and C). It is a magazine normally, but in the woods it was a collection of artisans who used ancient and modern techniques to skillfully create wooden bowls, clay pots, clogs, indigo apparel, and always a work of art.

"made you look"

This is a turning tool at H and C that wooden bowls were
being carved on. A foot pedal provides the
power to spin the wood as it is carved.

Paper and natural plant at H and C

Making clogs at H and C. This saw horse had a hook in it on
which many differently shaped blades could be attached.
I think these are Japanese cedar

DJ booth

into the woods

Japanese cedar

There was more than one tree
 decorated with pence as such.

Lost in the Woods stage. Mostly
it was a DJ, but bands played here too.


On Stage

Gavin Turk gave an interesting talk about
authenticity, art, and consumerism.

Gavin Clark (right) has a wonderful voice and some great folk songs.

Not a great picture, but a
great and unique band:
The Harlequin Dynamite Marching Band

John Robins was hilarious
or as he put it, "brilliant,
five stars". Also very funny
 and on stage that day
was Marcel Lucont

I didn't expect to love an entire show by a beatboxer
 (it's impressive, but I'm not always entertained)
but Shlomo is a really great live act.

The Welsh band Yucatan. Really humble and talented.

Gypsies of Bohemia. Humorous and
danceable remakes of songs you know.

Spark! has a great electronic lights show.

Julian Cope spoke about his book
 One Three One and very impressively
dealt with a heckler. Then again
anyone wearing gauntlets probably
feels ready to take on anything.

...and in the streets

These actors were the most talented at pantomime I've seen.
It was live action hangman where the whole audience
guessed at the clue. It was, of course, "The Prisoner"

The Submercycle

The Flycycle

The Mad Hatter Tea Party
a dance performance

This was an immersive shadow puppet show.
You sat in the wheelchair and were moved
 around while listening to head phones
 and seeing shadow puppets through
 windows in the box you wore.

These were the funniest guys at the festival.
They interacted with people on the street as
if they were just coming into contact with
modernity for the first time.


"Back in the village again"
"All together now"
"Can we stay?"