of St Denys Art of Heritage festival, which took place from September
9-11, have said it’s been a huge success – and plans are already afoot
for a bigger and better event that could extend beyond St Denys Church,
and even onto the river, in 2017.
Co-ordinator Helen Trimarco-Ransome, right, said that despite
Saturday’s rain, which affected the line up and caused some technical
issues, there had been a “great footfall” over the weekend.
‘There was a real buzz about the place’
“There were still a lot of people coming round. Art and craft
was sold. And we used every corner of the church we could find to keep
people dry. And people still did their thing: there was a really good
community spirit to it,” she said.
“Everyone took their little bit, and owned it, so there was a
real buzz about the place, and everyone really enjoyed it, and enjoyed
being part of it, including meeting people and having lots of
conversations they wouldn’t usually have.”
Helen said the original aim for the first festival was to take
advantage of spaces that already exist, like churches “which are great
buildings built by artists”, and to use them for an art exhibition.
“But because the community got on board so quickly and readily –
bands wanted to play, and people wanted to use their different skills,
it grew into what it is. And I think every year we’ll see it growing and
growing, with more and more people coming on board.”
She said the current plan for next year is to incorporate a
“river carnival”, and to broaden it out, hopefully also using Riverside
Park and some other nearby venues as well as St Denys Church – which
itself this year housed two stages, exhibition and craft stall space, a
café and much more within the grounds.
“Who knows, maybe we could get a group in Portswood and also do
some stuff up there, and at the Triangle: let’s put Southampton’s arts
on the map! We’ve got so much talent and it isn’t celebrated. We need
events like this to celebrate it. People only think it’s a ‘cultural
desert’ because they can’t see it!”
Catherine Wright, left, chats to artist Sarah Filmer at Southampton in Conversation at The Stage Door in June. Pic: Joe Hudson
Catherine Wright, host of ‘Southampton in Conversation’, a series of
chats with local creative people about their work and Southampton as a
place to be an artist, said she thought the Art of Heritage festival was
a “beautiful example of how arts and creativity is going on in the
‘villages’ of the city”.
‘It’s really important strategically for the city that things like this are nurtured, supported and celebrated’
“While there’s a necessary focus on the new building being
constructed in the cultural quarter in town, this is where the audiences
for that space are going to come from, if they’re going to come, so I
think it’s really important strategically for the city that things like
this are nurtured, supported and celebrated, because they give people
starting out a platform, they bring artists together, they create a
network of community.
"And then those communities can all link up and move on to the bigger
stages of somewhere like the new arts centre, so I think they’re a
really important part of that whole cultural thinking process.”
Talking about the idea of incorporating the river as a theme for the
next event, she said that not having access to the water is a well-known
bugbear in Southampton.
“At the points that we do, particularly Riverside Park and the others
nearby, it seems like an ideal opportunity to celebrate and make use of
those. And I know there are ambitions next year for this festival to
embrace the river in creative ways.”
She said there had already been talks with organisations with strong
links with the water about a potential ‘festival of sail’ on May 27,
bringing decorated boats up the river to coincide with a proposed event
in the park, where it’s hoped there could be music, entertainment and
food. She said independent businesses are already interested in getting
involved, and hoped it could also embrace the science aspect as well,
with Southampton being a big home for different areas of water research.