ArtsFest Lives On!

The eleventh edition of Lyme Regis ArtsFest drew to a close on Sunday. The overwhelming feeling in the town was that the festival had scaled new heights in terms of originality of thought and scope, the talent on show and the level of engagement between artists and the public.

The Great and the SmallThe Great and the Small - The Jam Factory

Much of this was due to the thought-provoking re:collection exhibitions. At the Town Mill, visitors were amazed by the creative journeys that artists had taken in working from Lyme Regis Museum artefacts and by the stunning results. Exhibits took many forms, from a replica kitchen and life-sized drawings to moving textiles about abandoned children and dramatised readings from the Regency poem The Lymiad. The spirit of the show was encapsulated in the paperweights filled with vintage broken china collected from Lyme beaches, each telling its own story. The Bathing Machine and Deck Chairs returned to Rinky Tinks on the seafront, again beguiling both children and adults with their modern take on museums and storytelling. Most challenging and awe-inspiring of all was The Great and the Small, a multi-media production which took over the entire Jam Factory premises in Uplyme and which told in films, photographs, sound, music and installations of the connections made between artists here and communities in the Himalayas.

ArtsFest events took over the whole town, from B Sharp busking in the Shelters to bead and stained glass workshops at the Town Mill. The group exhibition in the Baptist Church Hall was deemed by many to have been the highest quality of work ever on display there. As one local couple wrote: “Lyme Regis ArtsFest produces excellent work each year but this year, to our minds, has surpassed all others.” And the Art Trail again wowed visitors, with the mosaic mannequins of Barfleur artist Cecile Berneron making a particular splash in shop windows.

While final figures are still being collated, visitor numbers at 2,900 appear to have smashed previous records, and sales figures seem to be the second best in the festival’s history. Given the challenging nature of so much of the work on display, these numbers are indeed gratifying to the festival organisers and the fifty artists involved.

Gail Sagman 1The good news is that the talent and artwork behind ArtsFest 2013 will live on in special events over the coming months. Gail Sagman’s The Great and the Small will be on show at the Jam Factory from 18 October until 8 December with viewings by appointment ( or 07960 019180), culminating in a one-off theatrical event at the Marine Theatre on 8 December from 3-6pm. Finally, five more re:collection artists will be curating their own exhibitions at the Rotunda Gallery, Lyme Regis Museum from 4 December until 14 September 2014.

Published on 30/09/2013.

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