With Dark Mountain Project

Saturday 25 March, Forbury Gardens and View Island, Reading

Lucy Neal      anabelle macfadden

Amidst the days of unsettled weather, we were blessed with sunshine over Forbury Gardens, and for the duration of a day, a new tribe came together in humanity. Dark Mountain Project, a collective of artists, storytellers, writers, musicians and performers, led us in a series of creative and thought-provoking workshops. The participants sang, or walked, or sat, with eyes intently focussed on a faraway place where the world made sense, and small unbidden nods greeted stories that told how it could be if we were to live the Right Way Up.

on the hill

Dislocating creatures of the night led us on our candlelit procession through Reading, uncoiling new possibilities of being that challenged the normal night scene. Young skateboarders felt the thrill – ‘So creepy, that’s really cool’ – homeless human beings finding their doorways for the night smiled at us, sharing the vision that needed no words. Our lights moved over the darkness of the River Thames to our island destination.

  procession    in the underpass    procession ii

Here Time and Space, for an evening, ceased to exist. Beneath the stars, wild creatures swung in trees and clamoured in the undergrowth, eerie figures bowed the violin, an unworldly heron danced one-legged in the water. Strange illuminated beings rose up from beneath ivy, bones and flames in their hands. To light the fire that carried truthful story and song long into the night.

This was the Festival of the Dark. What happens from now on will be lightwaves travelling to Reading from an already gloriously exploded star. How lucky we were to have had this in our town.

Best feedback: "This event was pretty damn special! As if the old Reading was back... for just one night. I'm not sure how they did it, but I passed a tree that was full of Goblins, a seriously freaky witch playing a haunting violin, and men with strange cold lights on their heads. This kind of thing doesn't usually quite come off...but this came off. You could have actually been in some dark fairyland, it was truly otherworldly and strange. A Reading legend-to-be, like Doris's and Abeizer Coppe's. I'm so glad I was there!"  Laura Harwood

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