This past July, I enjoyed the privilege of capturing a truly unique and inspiring project in Charivari Day 2017. A crowning jewel in the works of arts charity Strange Cargo, Charivari underpins many of the values that drive its artists and volunteers to commit their time and talent year after year.
After getting to know Brigitte and learning more about Strange Cargo and the world of participatory arts, one thing became evident. It was clear that this kind of community-based initiative could never receive enough publicity. As she detailed the remnants of some of their past projects, I was left with a sense that someone should take the time to highlight the amazing impact that these projects have on the local community. Hence, as part of our agreement, it is my pleasure to tell you all a bit more about Charivari and to show how much it means to the town of Folkestone and the greater Shepway area.
“The whole Charivari process is energised by the incredible enthusiasm of the community and school groups who, along with the talented Strange Cargo carnival artist team, will be making this year’s event a huge success. More than 700 fabulously extravagant costumed revelers will parade through the streets. The compelling music and rhythms in the procession will be provided by streetbands and musicians from across the UK.” Strange Cargo wants people to be thrilled by the event and the music is a large part of the day.
Strange Cargo is funded entirely through public donations and grants. Without such funding, these amazing community participatory arts projects would never happen. On Strange Cargo’s website, Brigitte sends a “huge thanks goes to Lewis Biggs, the curator of the 2017 Folkestone Triennial and all the generous funders whose support enables Strange Cargo to continue to offer this event free of charge to the participants. Funders include Arts Council England, Creative Foundation, 2017 Folkestone Triennial, Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, Shepway District Council, Kent County Council, Folkestone Town Council, Rotary Club of Folkestone Channel, Folkestone Rotary Club, Councillors Rodica Wheeler, Carol Sacre and Mary Lawes.”
Here’s a short video giving a brief overview of what Charivari stands for:
I met up with Brigitte and her team at The Bandstand on The Leas where they were making final preparations for the day. I was surprised how at ease everyone was, which I imagine was the result of proper preparation.
From The Leas, I next met with the team as they were readying the big costumes held in store at The Glassworks. Here, I also met up with James Eldridge who was the primary photographer on the day (I was mostly focused on capturing video from the day, while James was tasked with the creating still images). This was the first occasion that I had to hire a second photographer for a project and James was at the top of a very short list. I’d been a fan of James’ work since relocating to Kent five years ago and I was thrilled over the opportunity to work with him.
Here’s a little tit-bit about the inspiration for these amazing creations: all of this year’s costumes were inspired by sponsors Folkestone Triennials’ theme double edge, with the students and artists taking the idea of bringing two different things together to make a hybrid creature, or a carnival ‘build’ based on wordplay, such as Rat-race, or other costumes such as the Dog and Bone, drawn from cockney rhyming slang.
And as everyone finished getting clipped into their costumes, it was time to make our way towards The Stade where the festival was to commence.
Down by The Stade, Batala Portsmouth was in full swing and preparing to lead the festival through the streets of Folkestone.
Here’s a quick video to give you an idea of just how big Charivari is and just how much it means to Folkestone and the local community.
And here are some highlights from the truly spectacular Charivari 2017: double edge.
As the parade makes its way beyond The Stade, gathering in energy and preparing to ascended The Old High Street, you get a sense of just how massive the festival is and just how much it means to the local community with schools from right across the Shepway district.
Just a reminder of the scale of Charivari Day and the impact that it has on the local community.
“Strange Cargo employs a small, experienced core team (including artistic and administrative personnel) under the leadership of Brigitte Orasinski, and draws on a versatile pool of talented and committed artists. Working in collaboration with communities, participants and funding partners Strange Cargo has delivered some extraordinary and distinctive projects.
You can commission us, work with us, learn with us, support us or take part in one of our projects.”
Without public donations and grants, Strange Cargo wouldn’t be able to put on such amazing community arts projects like Charivari Day. If you would like more information on organizing a participatory arts projects in your local community through Strange Cargo, click >here<.
If you appreciate how much events like Charivari Day bring to the Shepway Community then please head over to donate in any way available to you by clicking >here<.