Visit Britain: The weird and wonderful world of Britain’s ancient festivals

OK so I started with Visit Britain, but I will probably change the working title of this project to ‘Gatherings’, it sort of fits better now than Visit Britain for the project as the ideas are evolving.

I have been trawling across the internet looking for British Festivals, initially most of what I came across were music festivals. Which, whilst great, were not what I was looking for. However, after some more hit and miss searching, I came across the term ‘ancient festivals’. Suddenly, a lot of interesting and strange old festivals started to emerge. Turns out, they are also quite popular too!

It also turns out that there are a lot of these ancient ceremonies across the UK, some are internationally famous, like Up Helly Aa – the Lerwick fire festival – but there are a fair few that I have never heard of – like The Feast of St. Blaise in London, which is the patron saint of people afflicted with throat complaints! After a little digging around, it turns out that this ancient Catholic ceremony is also performed in other countries, like Croatia, as well.

The main problem that I am going to have is (1) selecting appropriate shoots from the incredible choice of ancient festivals out there and (2) quite a lot of events occur at night, which is going to be ‘interesting’ to shoot. However, my main interest is shooting night street photography, so I find this aspect quite exciting.

I think as a basic, I will try and cover the most important and famous events on the festival  calendar. Then, I might try and photograph some of the more unusual ceremonies to add a bit of novelty to the work.

These events are coming up all the time, some occur in January, which is too early for me at the moment – mainly due to the lack of large format camera! It’s going to take a little while to sort that piece of kit out.

What I am hoping is that these traditional festivals can be used to illustrate some of the diversity that occurs in Britain – whether it is diversity of events, places or people. What I would like to see is the relationship between these continuing ancient festivals and modern Britain.

I expect as the project unfolds other avenues that I could explore – or other understandings will open up. Hopefully, this will develop a deeper storyline to the project, but also make it potentially more interesting. Well, that’s the hope anyway!

EH8A6094.jpg

Salisbury, Arts Week, 2013. Canon 5D3, 85mm

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