Wirksworth Festival celebrates 20 years

Wirksworth Festival 20 years logoThe Wirksworth Festival is fast becoming one of the best showcases for the visual arts that you’ll find in rural England.

It is 20 years since the first art trail was staged there and now almost the entire town becomes a gallery, with more than 170 artists exhibiting in over 60 venues.

With the exhilarating selection of music, dance, drama, community celebrations, family events, film, street performance and the very best home grown talent added to the core weekend it is no surprise that it is hailed as one of the key players in the cultural life of the region.

The Trails Weekend on September 6 and 7 offers the perfect day out if you want to buy unique art, meet the artists and see inside their homes.

There will also be street entertainment, art in shop windows throughout the town and a commissioned programme of contemporary visual art that is centred on the town’s Parish Room which runs throughout the festival.

It is focused on a single, but changing exhibition and features work by an exciting group of artists from around the UK: Frank Abbott, Sarah Bowker-Jones, Leah Capaldi, Dan Coopey, Emily Fryer, Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau, Lesley Kulush, Florence Peake and Sarah Tripp, as well as performances by Ladies of the Press and live demonstrations and broadcasting by Field Broadcast.

The artworks will at first be displayed in the Parish Room as a single exhibition before being moved to various locations around the town.

Live performances at these new locations will then be beamed back to the Parish Room and to audiences in Wirksworth and beyond via online broadcast.

At the National Stone Centre another stage is being added to last year’s installation Forced Landscape by Rachael Champion.

The original work reflects the dramatic topography of its surroundings and directly references Middle Peak Quarry and the Blue Lagoon – two well-known, man-made intersections in the local environment.

For this year’s Festival, inspired by the distinct fossils at the National Stone Centre, Rachael is performing, Crinoidea Characteristics in the Forced Landscape.

This performance will feature two crinoids, which will be visiting from Britain’s prehistoric past and emphasising how the geological past has shaped the landscape of Derbyshire today.

Another performance about the past is The Lunar Men on September 9 at the Star Disc at Stoney Wood.  It is a collaborative and interactive performance centred around the Lunar Society, a group of dynamic inventors, experimenters and philosphers from the 18th century who met each month on the night of the full moon.

On this full moon night you will be entertained by the storytelling of Maria Whatton and the music and vocals of Sarah Matthews.

Bringing things bang up to date will be Silverclub who have been performing packed shows at Manchester’s Dancehouse Theatre.

They have been described as combining all the best bits of pop, rock, dance and electronica, dragging it down to the disco and tying it all up with a shiny techno bow tie. The four musicians will be at Wirksworth Town Hall on September 12 at 9.30pm.

Cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson will be at the same venue on September 14 at 7.30pm with her soulful bewitching sounds.

Fresh from the Edinburgh Festival The Gramophones, an all-female theatre company, will be bringing a new mix of tales, live music and projection inspired by their time touring with End to End last year.

This new work tells the story of a curious woman who travels the country stealing stories to fulfil her need for adventure. You can see it on September 20 at the town hall at 7.30pm.

Throughout the festival there will also be a buzzing fringe event with music, poetry, film, walks, markets and talks – full details of all the events including dates and ticket prices can be found on the festival website http://www.wirksworthfestival.co.uk

The Community Celebration is planned to take place as always on the last weekend of the festival, September 20 and 21, and will engage as many local people as possible whether they are making, performing or watching.