"Had a wonderful time at the Festival. Our charabanc ride was a big success and I particularly enjoyed the fantastic welcome by the drummers and the Lady Mayor and the public when we arrived at St Leonard's. Fantastic atmosphere. The readings were a lot of fun and there were plenty of cafes and bars to retire to in between events and listen to other acts. The bookshop reading was well attended with an enthusiastic audience. It was a great pleasure to be part of this innovative and enterprising festival by the sea. Hope to return next year".
We hired a vintage bus from a local company based near New Romney, to transport a number of poets and other performers from Ashford Station to Hastings (and return). The bus, an eye catching vehicle dating from 1950, was to feature in the Grand Parade of the St Leonards Festival. We also created fish heads for the passengers to wear, to give the impression of a shoal of fish on a day out to the seaside (Return of the Codfather). The driver joined in the fun, wearing a fisherman's sou'wester. The bus traversed the full length of the seafront and caught the attention of hundreds of visitors in both Hastings and St Leonards before joining the parade. It was subsequently used as Festival transport throughout the afternoon.
During the build up to the Festival, we had developed a good relationship with the local ‘Stanza’ group of the Poetry Society in Hastings who fielded a number of local poets to perform for us throughout the first day. Participants from Hastings included: Ross Andrews-Clifford; Cliff Bevan; Sandra Burdett; Brian Docherty; Jill Fricker; Steph Gaunt; Robin Houghton; Antony Mair; Gavin Martin; Tony Peek; Steve Tasane; Andrea Samuelson; Judith Shaw.
Poets and performers from London included: Isabel Bermudez; Jazzman John Clarke; David Mosey; Carrie Walsh; Irène Wernli...
As well as performances on the main stage of the Festival we popped up in locations all over town, both indoors and out, before the London performers returned in their charabanc to Ashford.
We hope to be back in Hastings in the autumn of 2018, hosting a number of collaborative projects with the Jerwood Gallery on the seafront.
NB. St Leonards Festival was run and curated by our partner organisation 111 Collectiff, who held the franchise for two years, allowing the team to do something really special in 2017 to which we contributed the Marinade of the Ancient Rhymer.
Check out some images from the event below.