This spring the Dark Mountain Project are teaming up with Bristol’s Cube Cinema – an independent ‘microplex’ at the forefront of the city’s alternative culture – for a weekend of talks, readings, film screenings, performances and other happenings that explore how we can ‘walk through the fire’.
In the last two years unprecedented wildfires – like the conflagration currently engulfing Australia – have brought home the reality of climate breakdown for many people. The scale of loss and the rapidity of change is hard to comprehend. We devoted our Spring 2019 issue to stories from the ‘Age of Fire’; our next book, to be published in Spring 2020, is themed around restoration and repair. But how can these two realities – destruction and renewal, endings and beginnings, death and rebirth – be reconciled? This weekend is, partly, an approach towards that question.
Featuring the launch of Dark Mountain: Issue 17, performances, panel discussions, readings, film screenings, storytelling, music, workshops, fiery rituals and walks in the urban wilderness, we welcome you warmly to the Cube in 2020. For full programme and the people taking part see below..For buying tickets, see here For other information contact Dougie Strang on [email protected]
Welcome and Launch of Dark Mountain: Issue 17
Our weekend begins with the launch of the latest Dark Mountain book. Come and join the editors and contributors to the Spring 2020 collection for readings, questions and conversation. There will be live poetry, storytelling and creative non-fiction, based around our theme of restoration and repair. Plus a picture show from our Cube exhibition ‘Holding the Storyline’ featured some of the work by performance artists published in recent anthologies.
As the first event of the weekend this will be a great opportunity to meet the Dark Mountain crew and fellow participants in our shared two-day journey through the fire.
Āvā uses live percussion, vocals, synthesizer and found sounds to improvise rhythmic soundscapes. She will weave us a strange sound journey that spans from the raw and natural to the urban and electronic.
Tuning in with Steve Wheeler
Facing the Flames
The world’s on fire. The scale of loss and the rapidity of change is hard to comprehend, but it’s happening now, in front of us. In this talk and participative performance, Darla Eno and Dougie Strang invite us to explore what, in our lives, in our communities, and in our cultures, we might want to carry through the fire, and what we might be glad to relinquish.
Uncivilising the City
Theatre 11:45am-1:00 pm
What does human wildness mean in an urban environment? Join us for a panel discussion featuring two authors and two practitioners whose work explores ideas of wilderness, cities, rewilding and uncivilisation. Featuring Joanna Pocock (Surrender), Nina Lyon (Mushroom Season and Uprooted: On the Trail of the Green Man), Manu Maunganidze (Nature Youth Connection & Education) and Andres Roberts (Way of Nature UK). Chaired by Nick Hunt.
Spring Tonic Weed Walk
Spring is a great time for getting to know the wild medicine plants in any neighbourhood. We’ll start this session in the garden at The Cube, then head out into the streets to connect with plants growing locally, before returning to discuss our encounters. This simple exercise in paying attention to and engaging with the living world right beneath our feet can then be developed, on your own or (more rewardingly) with others. Led by Mark Watson
— BREAK FOR LUNCH —
The Picture Show at the End of the World
Hosted by filmmaker Jonny Randall, this is a matinee showcase of short films submitted to the Dark Mountain Project in response to the question ‘what might uncivilised filmmaking look and sound like?’. Expect a selection of unique, provocative, and elemental films; with an opportunity to respond to and to discuss the films during the session.
The Regenerative Kitchen
What would it mean to have a more direct connection to the food in our kitchens and on our tables as modern suburban and citydwellers in times of social, climatic and planetary instability? Join Simon Bramwell (co-founder of Extinction Rebellion); Nick Saltmarsh (co-founder of Hodmedods award-winning pioneer plant-based UK food producers); Mark Watson (Dark Mountain core team member, forager and cook) and Bristol’s 91 Ways (Uniting the 91 language communities of Bristol through food), for an open discussion on our relationship with food in the 21st Century. Curated by Mark Watson. Chaired by Charlotte Du Cann
Ten Years: the Fire Tracks
10 years is how much time we have left to halve our emissions, according to the 2018 IPCC Special Report – so this set wears its urgency and dismay on its sleeve. It will be raw and honest, minimalist and rhapsodic, with text interspersed. Sarah Nicolls is a fully trained concert pianist who has gone off the traditional rails. Her keen interest in finding and playing sounds ‘inside’ the piano, directly on the strings, has led her on a unique path. After starting to improvise her own music, she began reinventing the shape of the piano and building her own instruments. Then she began to write music responding to the climate crisis. Her new album ‘In Black and White’ is out this April.
— BREAK FOR SUPPER —
An Uncivilised Tale
Storyteller Nick Hunt, who has performed at numerous Dark Mountain events, as well as festivals around the UK, tells a mix of traditional tales from around the world and some of his own. Tonight he opens our storytelling session with a new story of uncivilisation.
Unearth the unwritten Blodeuwedd, the Frankenstein of flowers. Captured in the pages of a medieval book, the ancient myth of Blodeuwedd (blod-ae-wuth) describes a woman made out of flowers who was turned into an owl as punishment for adultery. But who was this woman before being confined to the page?
Jo Blake, international contemporary storyteller, irradiates this figure of Celtic myth through word, movement and ritual. The myth is unravelled in this radical reclamation of the untold; intertwined with personal experience and observations of the role of myth in our unmythic modern lives
Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith
Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith are one of the most celebrated duos to have emerged onto the British folk and acoustic scene in recent years. Their combination of outstanding vocal work, sensitive instrumentation, and a powerful social conscience has brought them widespread critical acclaim. We’re delighted they’ll be playing a set to round off the day’s programme.
The Cube Bar will remain open till 12 and whilst we can’t sit around the fire as we often do at Dark Mountain events, there will no doubt be opportunities for unprogrammed music, songs, and other interventions!
Wild Inks in the City
Bar 10:00-11:30 am
Join Caroline Ross in making foraged ink and paint from the roads, verges, parks and environment around the venue. Feel free to bring rusty nails, oak galls, nutshells, acorn caps, bark, bright flowers or bits of brick that you may find on your travels before the workshop. You’ll go home with a small bottle of unique local ink and learn how to make simple foraged inks and paints easily at home. All materials provided.
The Body and the Story
Peoples Republic of Stokes Croft (next door to Cube) 10:00-11:30am
An introduction to the powerful and complex art of the contemporary storyteller. Jo Blake will lead a workshops on how to nurture a relationship with myth and fairy tale from a place of authentic personal experience. Working with and through the body as the primary medium, we will explore how our own personal mythology interacts with cultural mythology, using the spoken word, dance and music as methods to deepen the relationship.
The City is Nature Adventure
Where does nature reside? Is it out there – something to gaze, or touch, or long for, far away? Or is it inside us – a way of feeling or being. Or is it everything? Ancient traditions would say that nature is all things that arise in a moment, before they fade away. Through this adventure, Andres Roberts – a guide to nature connection – will help to explore these ideas before inviting us to venture into the city and explore the great, wild mystery from the cracks of Stoke Croft’s streets. (90 minutes with time outside – bring warm and waterproof clothes).
Theatre, 10.00 – 11.30am
De-domesticate yourself and explore the wilderness within through play, movement and conversation with Dark Mountaineer and professional rewilder of captive humans Steve Wheeler. Steve’s workshops have been a feature of Dark Mountain events since the first festivals, and use a unique mixture of games and discussion to build a bridge between the world of ideas and the experiential reality of the body. Come prepared for gentle movement, interaction with other humans, and exploration of the unexpected.
Finding the Words When the Story is Over
Lounge, 10:00 – 11:30am
What is the role of storytelling in a world when happy endings are no longer guaranteed? What tools do we need as writers to make meaning and navigate collapse? Explore how to forge a writing practice, bear witness, speak on behalf of the non-human world, among other approaches, in this word-making workshop with Dark Mountain editors, Charlotte Du Cann and Nick Hunt. Bring your memories, skills and ideas to share (and a notebook!).
Walking Through the Fire
Hosted by Darla Eno and Dougie Strang, we’ll end the weekend with reflection, participative performance, and a song to see you on your way.
Holding the Storyline
Bar all weekend
Holding the Storyline is a small exhibition of ten pictures from the Dark Mountain books by artists whose embodied work takes them into the field (literally) – from walking the length of Broadway on their knees to interring themselves under the cobblestones of Glasgow. ‘Our art has always been marked by the dramaturgical, by work that is found or enacted in the cities and in the woods: women put on costumes that reveal their mythic roles, men shed their clothes and immerse themselves in lakewater and snow’ (editorial. Issue 16).
Artists include: Monique Besten, David Ellingsen, Christos Gallanis, Kahn & Selesnick, Robert Leaver, Meryl McMaster and Dougie Strang. Curated by Charlotte Du Cann.
Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith have released three albums as a duo. ‘Reedcutter’s Daughter’ from their latest album, Many a Thousand, was nominated for a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award for best Traditional Track. They have also recently released, in collaboration with Lady Maisery, Awake Arise: A Winter Album. jimmyandsidduo.com/
Jo Blake works across the disciplines of storytelling, theatre and dance. Her dynamic, poetic performance style draws upon traditional and contemporary storytelling and dance practices, exploring current cultural and personal questions through the lens of the mythic. Her latest work, Blodeuwedd Untold ran during the Edinburgh Fringe 2019 and the Royal & Derngate theatre in Northampton. In 2019 she also launched a training programme in embodied storytelling practices called Body, Breath and Story. .jo-blake.co.uk/
Simon Bramwell is committed to breaking the spells civilisation has built around the myth of human superiority whilst exploring what actions love requires to dismantle an ecophagic system. He co-founded Rising Up!, Extinction Rebellion, the lightning tree project and the Coven of Insurrectionary Ontology and has been active with Earth First. He’d dearly love to die a beautiful death.
Charlotte Du Cann is a co-director of the Dark Mountain Project and lives in the agro-industrial complex of East Anglia. She has worked as a waitress, a cook, a food stylist, run a Transition initiative called One Planet Community Kitchen and edits the Dark Kitchen essay series. When not stirring the pot, she teaches collaborative writing and writes about myth and cultural shift charlotteducann.blogspot.com
Darla Eno is an Edinburgh-based choral facilitator and community worker. She sings with a peer-led polyphonic ensemble, Unučad, and works with movement and voice to explore our sense of connection to each other.
Nick Hunt has contributed to Dark Mountain’s books from Issue 1, and is now one of the project’s editors and co-directors. He is the author of two travel books, Walking the Woods and the Water and Where the Wild Winds Are, as well as The Parakeeting of London, a work of gonzo ornithology. He also writes fiction and works as a storyteller. Nickhuntscrutiy.com
Manu Maunganidze has worked as a creative educator for over 10 years with a particular interest in how nature connection and artistic expression have the potential to inspire and give purpose to young people and adults alike. He also works with environmental organisations helping to figure out how they can become more inclusive and equitable towards minority groups.
Sarah Nicolls is an innovative pianist and composer. She invented the ‘Inside-out Piano’ which stands 2.5m tall, designed to enable percussive ‘inside piano’ playing. Sarah has been a frequent soloist on the new music scene, performing in events such as the PRSF New Music Biennial, Matthew Herbert’s 20 Pianos project, six world premiere piano concertos with London Sinfonietta. She is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and has founded a festival of interactive electronic music. sarahnicolls.com/
Joanna Pocock’s book Surrender about the American West was published in the UK in 2019 by Fitzcarraldo Editions and in Canada by House of Anansi. American, Italian, French and Spanish editions of Surrender are forthcoming. She teaches Creative Writing at the University of the Arts and at City Lit in London.
Nina Lyon is a writer with an interest in nature, culture and the mind. Her first book, Uprooted, received the Society of Authors’ Roger Deakin Award for nature writing; elsewhere, she has written about psychedelics, philosophy and religion. She lives in Wales with her two children.
Jonny Randall is a filmmaker and community arts practitioner living in North West England. His films often focus on performance, landscape and how identity is shaped by the stories that are embedded in all of us. https://www.jonrandall.net/ and Vimeo – www.vimeo.com/jonnyrandall
Andres Roberts is a nature quest guide, educator and leadership advisor, dedicated to reconnecting human systems to nature. His work brings together different aspects of learning, the art of change, and wisdom from ancient cultures to support better forms of life and work for our times. He is the founding partner of The Bio-Leadership Project and Way of Nature UK. And he is learning all about being a Dad, kindness and how to stay adventurous.
Caroline Ross is an artist and T’ai Chi teacher. She lives on a boat on the Thames where she runs workshops on natural, ancient and foraged art materials. She can be found online at www.carolineross/co.uk and Instagram.com/foundandground
Nick Saltmarsh is one of the founders and directors of award-winning pioneer food producers Hodmedod, who work closely with British farmers to supply pulses, grains and seeds as ingredients for diverse diets from low-impact, low input farming. He lives in Bristol and also chairs the Bristol-based British Dal Festival.
Dougie Strang is a writer and performer and co-organiser of Dark Mountain events and performances. He lives by the River Ae in South West Scotland. https://dougiestrang.org/
Mark Watson teaches people to pay attention to the plants growing around them, especially ‘weeds’, as a simple and direct way of reconnecting with the living world. He also performs wild plant cooking and fermentation demonstrations, and is part of the core team at Dark Mountain. https://markinflowers.wordpress.com/
Steve Wheeler is a writer, therapist, performer and Dark Mountain editor. Steve is also the originator of Human Rewilding and founder of the Rewilding Academy, helping civilised primates discover their wilder side since 2013.
91 Ways (to Build a Global City) is a dynamic, social enterprise, named after the 91 languages spoken in Bristol. Since 2015 they’ve collected recipes and food stories, bringing together over 12,000 people, speaking 40 languages, at over 150 events in schools, universities, places of worship, with community organisations and even on boats. http://91ways.org/