At midday on Saturday, a free festival of live and visual arts will launch in Brightlingsea, a small town on the Essex coast. Created and curated by artist Caroline Wright, it features newly commissioned work and exhibitions by Amy Sharrocks, Richard DeDomenici, Abi Cunliffe, Briony Clarke, Jackie Chettur and Wayne Burrows.
Discussing the genesis of the festival, Wright cites her “growing love” for Brightlingsea, which began after a visit in 2012. Working with producing and presenting organisation Artsadmin was also an important factor. “Their production expertise and support is invaluable and enabled the ambition of the idea to come to fruition.”
Cheryl Pierce, a producer at Artsadmin, was smitten by the interdisciplinary nature of the artist’s work and its particular focus on process, places and people. “Personally, I love Caroline’s use of materials and found objects and how she uses these very physical things to explore the spirit of a particular site or situation,” Pierce explains.
Sounding out the sea
As well as curating the festival, Wright will be performing her piece, Soundings, a poignant musical composition created from depth soundings in Brightlingsea creek and the surrounding waters. Wright has also written a libretto combining “local nautical tales, historical fact, and references to literature with a touch of the personal”, and the performance will feature cello and local singers.
“My intention is for the piece to be an aural and visual representation of the shape of the river and seabed, and the lives and people that it touches,” explains Wright, “while also acknowledging its constantly changing state and how this impacts on local people and those visiting the town.”
Soundings is conceived of both materials of the mind and the seascape, in which placement, proximity, and visual narrative all come together to form an innovative response to Brightlingsea’s unique sense of time and place. “It is wonderfully melodic,” says Wright, “the plotting of the depth measurements have created an unexpected beauty.”
As for the wider festival, both parties are keen to grow this small but big-hearted event in future years. “Caroline’s practice is generous and inclusive and she was keen to invite other artists to take part – although nowhere near as many as we’d have liked,” says Pierce. “But we’ve dubbed this year the pilot PILOT, and ideas are already forming for next year. Brightlingsea is bubbling with potential. This is how it begins!”
PILOT Festival takes place in Brightlingsea, Essex from 7-8 September. For more information on the programme visit pilotfestival.co.uk