As Dulwich Festival turns 25, The Resident checks out some of the highlights of south east London’s biggest community arts festival
Lead image: Joe Innes & the Cavalcade (photo: Thomas Carpenter)
The Dulwich Festival turns 25 this year, and what better way to mark the achievement than with one great big celebration. And celebration is what this year’s festival is all about, with a programme dedicated entirely to the theme.
Festival Director Alpha Hopkins says: ‘It is a tribute to the many individuals, businesses and community groups that exist throughout Dulwich and the surrounding areas who have played such a vital part in creating and developing the Dulwich Festival that it will be celebrating 25 years this May.
Running from 11-20 May 2018, all parts of the community will come together as more than 250 artists open their doors, locals guide walking tours around the area and south east London poets take to the stage.
Dulwich Festival 2018:
Some notable events include the Street Artist ATM – Live Painting Event at The London Wildlife Trust Centre For Wildlife Gardening over the opening weekend, from 11-13 May. Acclaimed street artist ATM will be live painting a mural to celebrate the local wildlife, with family activities taking place in the award-winning visitors centre and throughout the garden.
Street art fans should also get involved in the Street Art Walk with Amanda Greatorex on Saturday 12 may at 2pm. Over 20 of the world’s leading street artists were invited to Dulwich Picture Gallery a few years back to study the Baroque paintings and reinterpret them in their own style around Dulwich – check them out on this two hour walk.
Indie folk band, Joe Innes & the Cavalcade, will also be performing on 12 May. The ‘post-Brexit’ band is known for their songs exploring current affairs, as well as songs on topics as diverse as toxic masculinity and burying dead rats.
There’s also a Dulwich Georgian Heritage Walk with Ian McInnes on Sunday 13 May. Ian McInnes will lead this 1.5 hour walk looking at some of Dulwich’s Georgian houses and talking about the people who lived in them. Meet by the front gate to Bell House at 27 College Road at 2pm.
Foodies should check out the East Dulwich Supper Club at Fifty Seven by Suzanne James on Monday 14 May. The popular Supper Club returns for a week-long series of events to celebrate 25 years of Dulwich Festival, collaborating with Filippo Berio to serve an Italian style feast of sharing platters with Aperol Spritz and canapés on arrival,
There are also plenty of family-oriented events, like John Hinton’s latest show, the Ensonglopedia of Science, which has a song about science for every letter of the alphabet at Alleyn’s School on 15 May.
One thing that marks this year’s festival is the amount of poetry that is being showcased, with the influential poetry group The Last Poets set to close the show on 20 May. Often hailed as the godfathers of hip hop, they will be performing at Dulwich College in a rare UK appearance.
There will also be A Celebration of Poetry, where the Abbey Wood-born Rachel Long will feature on 14 May. The talented performance poet has already been featured on the BBC World Service and in The Guardian for her work with women of colour poetry collective Octavia.
But it’s her first time performing at Dulwich Festival, and she tells me how much she’s looking forward to it: ‘Poetry is cool, is exciting, is engaging new audiences at an encouraging rate,’ Long says. ‘I’m always excited when it’s being considered, given a platform, championed in the same way other genres are.’
artists open house
Three must-see artists at Dulwich Festival 2018 Artists Open House
Artist Mark Pearson is well known for his work documenting the changes across his native Peckham. Trained at the City & Guilds of London Art School, he has been involved with Artists’ Open House for the past nine years.
What is it about Peckham that you love to paint? It’s never ending, it’s so interesting. I think it’s the way that people share this space and the different sorts of people who live here now and the old buildings and the new buildings. And because there’s a lot of leisure stuff here, there’s a lot of bars and nightlife going on. I quite like the way that people interact with that. There is always something to do. In the morning I just go out with my sketchbook and I just sit on the wall and draw.
Your paintings feature a lot of people in everyday life. Do you really like to capture the moments in time? I’m really interested in the moments in time. It takes quite a long time to paint the moments, which is the trouble because all the elements have to kick in. And that’s what I try and capture. I try and capture a little fleeting moment, just a moment when everything is happening.
87 Lyndhurst Way, Peckham SE15 4PT; markpearsonartist.com
Priscilla Watkins is a West Norwood-based artist who works in oil and watercolour to paint people swimming at Brockwell Lido. She studied visual art at Lancaster University and went into magazine design, working as the Art Editor of NME from 1990-1993.
What is it you like about being involved in the Artists’ Open House? Lots of things. It’s well run and well attended. The booklet is a good thing to be in, so I get good exposure, but best of all it’s a community event, a lovely weekend spent with a friend [she exhibits with fellow artist Dilly Gane], who feeds me fruitcake and tea at regular intervals, while nice people come and go. What’s not to like?
Your paintings feature swimmers at Brockwell Lido. What is it that appeals to you about this place? It’s such a special place. Not just because it’s a beautiful old Art Deco building but that it’s been saved and nurtured and so it always has that slight air of fragility that means we have to carry on caring and looking after it. British cold water Lidos are unique in the world I think. Lido light is also very special. It falls directly onto the water so it has a special intensity and an endless fascination for me. It has quite a transcendent quality. A real tonic for the soul.
19 Lovelace Road SE21 8JY; priscillawatkinsart.co.uk
Greg Becker paints his observations of the parks and streets around his East Dulwich home. He has been showcasing at the Artists’ Open House for around 15 years with his wife, Julia Burnett, who paints land and seascapes in oils.
What are your favourite places in the local areas to paint? I suppose the parks – there’s Peckham Rye and Dulwich Park, which are kind of favourite places, particularly Peckham Rye and just the streets and the houses around the area. I actually recently have started doing a lot of still lives, which are also connected to the area because they’re either things I’ve grown myself or picked up on the street.
You often exhibit with your wife in the Artist’s Open House. How do you find that? Well, it’s good but obviously the main problem is we just need a bigger house because Julia’s work is generally bigger than mine so she can do a big canvas and take up one wall. So apart from the battle for space, it’s good. People always comment that our work goes well together.
285 Upland Road SE22 0DN; gregbeckersart.com