30 August 2016

Shambala Festival 2016

Well, that weekend flew by, but now that I'm back, rested, washed and finally sober, I guess you'll want to know all about Shambala festival 2016.
This years Shambala was particularly excellent, we saw some amazing bands/shows and took part in some brilliant workshops...but I'll come back to that, we all know that what you really want to see is the costumes!
So this year I was tasked with making not one but two costumes, one for me and one for my best mate. The theme for this year was 'myths and monsters' so I kinda went along the lines of making up my own monsters.
Both of the masks were made out of crochet (that was the easy part). I then backed it onto a wire and papier-mache frame, which had buckles and cords to attach it to our heads.
The black of the mouths was made with a sheer black fabric so we could still see through it, and it was attached with elastic so we could pull it down and still drink (very important).
With both of the masks I used acrylic yarn, mostly from my odds and ends hamper, but stuck a bit of neon yellow, pink and green in there so it was really bright.
I made some paper templates before doing the crochet just so I had a rough idea where the mouths would need to be and get an idea of composition, but overall it mostly a lot of freestyling.
One of my favourite things about wearing crochet costumes is when people recognise it for what it is. There were a few people that asked if it was knitting/crochet, and they seemed a lot more perplexed when this was confirmed (maybe due to it being a mask rather than a garment, it almost seemed that they couldn't believe it was handmade).
Now: reader beware, here comes the 'I want to explain my influences but it may make me sound like a certain type of stereotypical pretentious middle-class white guy' bit. A couple of people commented that the masks and costumes kinda gave off African (or possibly Aztec/Mayan) vibes - this didn't surprise me as there were a lot of influences relating to that in my creation process. 
Whilst making the masks I'd been reading a lot of Nigerian literature, one example being one of my favourite authors named Amos Tutuola. It is also from his most famous book 'The Palm-Wine Drinkard' that I took the quotes that are on the coconut shell necklaces - and yes I broke, sanded and painted the shells myself. The visualisation of folk-tales and animist subjects that run through his books was a big influence on my imagination for these costumes.
But I'd also been reading other books on subjects like Peruvian shamanism and African textiles, so it was really clear to me where my influences lay. It can be a fine line between being influenced by other cultures and misappropriation, but I'd like to think that I'm clear enough on my influences and that my own creativity also comes through......I did warn you that it might get a bit pretentious.
Anyway, as you might have guessed quite a lot of work went into both costumes. As well as all the crochet I threaded every necklace myself, tore up the fabric strips and me and my mate did the tie dye together too (although it ended up coming out a bit fainter than planned).
Unfortunately on the Saturday (which is traditionally fancy dress/costume day) we had torrential downpours, with a thunder and lightening storm which seemed to circle the site for hours). Because of this we weren't able to wear the costumes all day but got dressed up as soon as it stopped raining.
But even with the rain it was still a hell of a lot of fun. As you can see in the photo above plenty of people still powered through and made the effort with their costumes despite the British weather.
So those were this years costumes, who knows what I'll do with them now, maybe I'll put them in some sort of box frame. Well now that the costumes have been dealt with, those of you who follow my yearly festival shenanigans will know there's more crochet to come....
....Every year I make a gift to give out to a random person, just to be nice. This year was no exception.
To start with I made this bracelet using crochet tapestry and hand-sewn beading. But seeing as I made two costumes, I figured I should make two gifts.
So I also made this necklace. Both were given out to people selected completely at random. It's a great feeling to give something with no reasoning or ultimatum, people are generally confused and then shocked when they realise what is happening. But wait there's more, last year I also made a gift for a child, as Shambala is a very family friendly festival.
So I also made this cute little beetle/bug and gave it to a toddler that was with it's parents by the main stage. I also made this little purple scarab beetle for no particular purpose so gave it to some guy that was whittling a spoon in the woods...as you do.
So there we go, that's all of my creations from the festival. So now I'm gonna show you some other cool creative stuff I found around the festival.
How's about a Yarn-bombed Ice Cream van?!! An ice cream van selling knitted finger puppets no less!!!
It was all by a company called Little Fingy. So the van got our attention, the finger puppets drew us in, and inside we discovered this guy selling the puppets!
That's some proper crochet granny square lovin right there! I couldn't help myself and bought a little mouse puppet for the lovely wife. There was plenty of cool non-crochet stuff though, and most of it could be found in the enchanted woods.
We both particularly liked these hanging mirrored LED cubes. When you looked into the side of them you got an infinite reflection type thing going on.
They also appeared to change colour in relation to the sounds around it....although we did struggle to figure out whether this was happening or if we were just too drunk.
As well as the cubes there was also this awesome video piece that again used mirrors. You put your hand in a hole and it created a kaleidoscopic feedback effect.
And finally, there were these hanging fibre-optic LED's suspended from and wrapped around the trees. 
Not only did it look cool but people were really enjoying wrapping themselves up in lights that hung down to the ground.
So yeah, that was a very visual account of this years Shambala. What things did I enjoy most I hear you ask? Well....
Workshop highlights: Shaman Drumming, Afon Systema Maracatu Drumming, Tai Chi Qigong Shibashi.
Music Highlights: Nightmares on Wax, Dele Sosimi, The Comet Is Coming (these guys were absolutely amazing).
Food Highlights: Surprisingly for me, everything was awesome (I say surprising cos it was all meat-free this year and I'm a total carnivore), in particular the Dosa Deli Indian Savoury Crispy Pancakes and the Pho Sho Vietnamese-style baguettes were out of this world.

So that's it for this year, unfortunately I don't know what I'll do next year, as my best buddy Broughton is entering the adult world of parenthood so won't be able to come with me next year. In some ways it's the end of a very drunken era. But I love Shambala so much, I don't think it'll be my last time in Utopia.
Hope you all enjoyed the madness and the massive blog post. Until next time - peace out x

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