So the Bank Holiday was a lot more about sitting in the sunshine than being a culture vulture. However, I did go to the Beer Festival which had live music from local bands all night and beer…obviously. The music has a bit of a blue grass feel and some of the acts from ‘Are You Listening?’ Festival popped up again. I decided to be patriotic and drank Welsh, which was also a chance to revive my Welsh GCSE. Brewers seem keen to fox the English with Welsh names i.e. I vaguely recall seeing an ‘Ysbyty Seidr’ (Hospital Cider) there before. ‘Cwtch’ means cuddle so you had to ask the bartender for a hug in order to get a pint of that. My favourite name was the cider ‘Gwynt y Ddraig’ which I believe means something like ‘Breath of the Dragon’. I don’t know whether it’s everybody’s idea of cultural activity but it is a pretty big date in the Reading calendar and CAMRA have an interesting place in sustaining our brewing heritage. I remember one museum curator told me that they got CAMRA members to help out with a display on the local pub in village life which is a really nifty way or interacting with different kinds of organisations.
I was a little more refined at Aunt Elsie’s Spring Fling which was held in Market Square in Reading. Tea and bunting, vintage clothes and furniture, local arts and crafts – yay! It’s a really great show case for local makers. When I wanted to try on a vintage dress from Alexandra Vintage I ended up strolling into the HQ of the organisers 42 Market Place where there are open days and workshops.
One of the affiliated organisations Jelly has been around for ages (I still call it by its original name ‘Jelly Legg’d Chicken’) finding space for art and artists around Reading. It has parallels in the wider ‘slack space’ movement. This is an interesting phenomenon where artists and makers set up shop in disused retail spaces, and it seems to flourish in times of recession. It certainly brightens up the town centre to see art instead of ‘for rent’ signs and piles of bills through the windows of disused outlets. I’ve come across another nice example Slack Space Colchester.
I have made it a mini-mission to uncover some more detailed research on ‘slack spaces’ and these kinds of community art projects, specifically how museums may support them. When I hunt down some more information expect another post.