Channel Festival: A Weekend of Activities Inspired by the Sea

Written on 19/03/2022

Events | Workshops | Exhibition | Discussion

A weekend of arts and health events inspired by the sea is launching in Felixstowe across 18-20th March.

Channel Festival will explore the profound role of the sea in our lives and its impact on our mental and physical wellbeing.

Developed by Pier Projects Art Agency who have been working in Felixstowe since 2017, the programme builds on their blended approach to contemporary art and health which they explore through artist commissions in public space, work with young people and events.

Across the weekend, the programme will offer free activities that celebrate Felixstowe’s coastal position and recent Blue Flag status, recall its history as a Victorian spa town and highlight it’s active sporting communities.

The theme for this pilot edition is ‘Open Water’ and is dedicated to the brave and bold sea swimming community in Felixstowe who ‘take the plunge’ whatever the weather to connect physically and mentally with nature.

This long-standing interest in mind-body connections is epitomised by Pier Projects co-founder Louise Stratford, an experienced open water swimmer, who has navigated the English Channel solo.

Curator Natalie Pace said: “The idea of a small-scale festival has been bubbling away for several years now. Against the backdrop of the pandemic - when we sought to connect with nature and were forced to physically disconnect from one another - the theme also asks timely questions about what ‘health’ means to us now. We hope it will offer an antidote to the overwhelm of day-to-day life, a slow space to reconnect with the elements and consider the potential of the sea to make us feel human.”

Reflecting the fluid, dynamic nature of the sea, events will take place in multiple locations across the town and online.

To launch the festival on Tuesday 15th March, an online discussion will take place exploring ‘Blue Health’. The introduction will be led by author, academic and wellbeing practitioner Dr Catherine Kelly, whose book 'Blue Spaces: How and Why Water Can Help You Feel Better' shares personal experiences and professional research around the positive mental and physical benefits of being by water.

She will be joined by Amanda Bowden, otherwise known as The Swimming Seamstress, who runs Felixstowe Sewing School and is an avid open water sea swimmer. Amanda started sea swimming after a chance conversation in 2017, with a English Channel solo swimmer who was attending the Sewing School.

An exhibition of Lynn Dennison’s film ‘Sea Swimmers’ will take place at Hamilton Micro Arts Space (Hamilton MAS) and includes projection so that aspects of the film are visible at night. The artist will work directly with the town’s open water swimming community through a participatory workshop using Go-Pro Cameras, gathering footage and insights about what open water swimming means to them.

Artist Yva Jung will be sharing public art interventions titled ‘The Distance Between: Sea & Wave’, which combine text and drawings in sites across Felixstowe. Yva Jung will also be running a workshop by children and families ‘How to Explain the Sea to your Child, Part II’, Genevieve Rudd will be introducing young adults to cyanotype photography.

Natalie Pace of Pier Projects added: “This first edition offers a compact programme, intended to offer an introduction to some of its ideas and offer a platform for discussion and feedback about what the festival could be in the future.

"Small in scale but mighty in meaning, we hope people will help us shape Channel Festival into an inspiring, annual event that pulls people to the sea from near and far.”

Channel Festival is developed and curated by Pier Projects delivered in partnership with Hamilton MAS and supported by Felixstowe Library and East of England Coop. It is funded by Suffolk County Council through Covid Continuity Fund for Culture and East Suffolk District Council’s Enabling Communities Grant. 

For more Information Visit.

Courtesy of Visit Felixstowe.