Telling Stories at Port Eliot Festival
It was a pleasure to be part of the Port Eliot Festival marketing team this year, helping to capture the spirit of the festival through Instagram stories. Hosted on the glorious Port Eliot Estate in St. Germans, the Festival has pop-up acts next to the river, roaming performers and quirky little venues scattered across the woodland gardens.
From music and comedy to creative workshops and literary talks, there was a plethora of happenings to choose from. This year, the festival introduced a new area called The Cinematheque, curated by Women Under the Influence and The Violet Book. Based in the gorgeous Orangery Garden, the venue delved into the fascinating world of film through the female lens. I was particularly moved by a Q&A with actress and activist Lily Cole and Daughters of Eve Director, Nimco Ali. Talking about how film can be used for social change, they both shared how the medium has enabled them to shed light on the causes that mean the most to them - the refugee crisis in Greece and the horrors of female genital mutilations (FGM).
One of my favourite bands, The Bookshop Band, sounded spectacular whilst playing in St. Germans’ Priory Church, the finest and most historic church in Cornwall. What started as an artistic collaboration in their local indie bookshop in Bath spiralled into a major UK and European tour, writing over 150 songs and over 13 albums. The band members read books and then write songs about those books, collaborating with some of the biggest names in the literary world along the way.
Elementum editor, Jay Armstrong, gave a talk about how she ended up publishing this creative nature writing journal. Her vision was to produce a beautiful publication that brought together scientists, artists and writers in a way that nurtured the reader’s connection with the natural world. Armstrong is particularly keen to give the reader a space to reflect and absorb ideas, without regular advertising spreads and stories of human failing.
Whenever I see spoken word poet Hollie McNish perform, she never fails to make me both laugh and cry at the same time. Reading from her books Nobody Told Me, CherryPie and Plum, she shared poems about childhood, adolescent, love and motherhood. McNish has a remarkable ability to make the most mundane aspects of everyday life into profound and nostalgic moments to remember.
Festival-goers were enthralled by the performance of trapeze and circus school, Above and Beyond. Trained and led by Mike Wright, who has been actively performing since the age of eleven, the troupe gave a hair-raising show in trapeze, rope, aerial hoop and tightrope walking. However, my favourite festival moment was dancing by the river in the rain to Pharrell’s Happy with a bunch of soggy strangers, whilst being instructed by a jolly man in a hawaiian shirt and very short shorts.