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City Arts at the Ashbourne International StreetFest

Date published: 3 Jul 2017

Posted by: Joe Pick

Man holds flags made by school children

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Enjoy these wonderful photos from our weekend at Ashbourne Festival’s International StreetFest.

The Ashbourne Festival takes place every June and July. It brings a burst of colour to the market town at the southern end of the Derbyshire Dales. This year they invited City Arts to create a carnival for their International StreetFest. Many locals remember the old Ashbourne Carnival, which last rolled through town more than twenty years ago. On the 18th June 2017, we brought that tradition back to life, albeit in a different style.

Creating the flags

In the period leading up to the StreetFest City Arts took artists into local schools, including Osmaston Primary School and Parkside Junior.  Artist and designer Ali Pretty, from Kinetika People, visited the schools to help the children explore their town and create a set of beautiful silk flags.  Each school took Ali on a walking tour around their area. They told us all about amazing local traditions such as the Shrovetide football game, when the town splits into two teams, the streets are the pitch and the mills become goalposts. The children’s drawings featured this, as well as capturing local landmarks and the Derbyshire countryside.

Ali uses the ancient process Batik. The technique involves painting wax onto fabric so that it resists dye. She used melted wax to transpose the school childrens’ drawings onto silk, which they then painted, producing amazing results.

Making headdresses

Artist Jess Kemp also visited schools, supporting the Batik workshops and running her own. Pupils worked wtih Jess to create personalised carnival headdresses based on a simple design cut from card. The children were able to unleash their creativity and produced a collection of wonderfully unique headpieces for them and their families to wear in the parade.

The StreetFest Weekend

Whilst they waited in aticipation for the Carnival parade on Sunday 18th June, festival goers had the opportunity to jam on City Arts’ Giant Chimes in Ashbourne’s Civic Square.  Designed by Michael Davis, and set up in our geodesic dome, the Chimes’ pentatonic tuning means that anyone can create harmounious music. Over a thousand people had a go at playing them during the weekend.

On the morning of the prosession, schoolchildren and performers assembled in the car park of Ashbourne Leisure Centre. The parade made its way from there, through the town, to Ashbourne Market Place. It was led by drummers and dancers from the amazing Can Samba. Local women joined the Biana section, taking the route slowly in big swaying dresses. They were followed by around 200 children and family members wearing the headdresses and waving the beautiful flags they made with artists Jess & Ali. Behind them, less-mobile people drove extravagantly decorated mobility scooter floats. Bringing up the rear were our giant mechanical bird puppets; two magpies and parrot.

The town’s residents and vistors lined the streets to watch the parade. They gave rapturous applause when it reached its final destination.