Every year, WOMAD features an impressive line up of musical talent, along with visual artists, dance groups, performance artists, authors, critical thinkers, and entrepreneurs from around NZ and abroad. This month, The Learning Connexion travelled up to Taranaki to join the WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival held 17-19 March 2017.
New Zealand acts this year included dance/electronic artist ‘Baynk’, folk singers ‘The Swan Sisters’, Maori musician ‘Rob Ruha’, Mt Eden Dub Step, reggae artists ‘Sons of Zion, The New Zealand Dance Company – Brouhana, and country folk artist Marlon Williams.
International acts included acapella artists ‘The Soil’ from South Africa, ‘Emir Kusturica & The No Smoking Orchestra’ from Serbia, alternative rock artist ‘Archie Roach’ from Australia, Sudanese Pop by ‘Sinkane’ from Sydan/USA, and ‘9BACH’ from the UK.
Also on stage were thought provoking talks and interviews with the author of 'Mortal Fire' - Elizabeth Knox, eco-village builder Malcolm Rands, and author Charlotte Grimshaw, an award-winning author of novels and short story collections.
The Learning Connexion sent a group, comprised of staff and students, along to WOMAD to show how learning creativity alongside art making can improve people’s critical thinking at any age, within any field. The aim – to encourage festival goers to look at art as a viable option through distance learning.
Here’s a snapshot of the event through the eyes of Alice Wilson Milne, TLC’s Co-Founder:
“In the leadup to WOMAD, TLC staff members Sarah Brock, Margaret Mundell (Maggie), and art student Tess Hyett pitched in and helped the team get organised. Art student Morgan Linforth became a chameleon helper in every direction, as well as, I have to admit, my minder! Myself? I fitted in where I felt I was needed the most.
Thursday 17th March 2017
Morgan and I drove a packed van, full of art supplies and marketing material, to New Plymouth. From there, after struggling to discover where our tickets were hiding in the van, we simply followed the signs to Taranaki, to a friend's house where we slept well, ready for the busy weekend ahead.
Friday 18th March 2017
Heading off to Puke Ariki Park, we drove carefully onto our dedicated site and unpacked our gear into the gazebo. We had arrived! Our gazebo was set amongst a line of traders, next to the 'Mindful' people. The rest of the team - Sarah, Maggie and Tess - soon arrived, and we all unpacked what was needed. After setting up, Morgan and I returned that evening to my friend's house, Maggie and Tess to their campsite on the race course, and Sarah to her place in Patea.
Saturday 19th March 2017
Today Morgan re-painted our fading signage, Maggie and Tess scoped out the Kidzone, and Sarah painted a lovely scene to entice walker-bys. From this point on it all became a blur. The festival had ramped up and our organised roster became useless as we were all absolutely full-on without a moment to think. People were walking around, left, right and centre, asking for information about our creativity and art programmes.
I only managed to leave the gazebo for three hours in the afternoon to help out with the cardboard challenge in the Kidzone. Even here I was immediately immersed within a cutting, shaping, masking-tape frenzy that was very like being in at the bottom of a whirlpool. It’s incredible how excited and creative children can be when challenged. On returning to the gazebo, TLC's operation had spread out over the grass. Paintings hung wet in the trees, and parents were lined up alongside their children just waiting for a free easel.
It seemed that everyone wanted to have a go at making art. It was amazing and crazy. But as the saying goes, ‘Chaos is the first step in the creative process’! Soon the darkness descended, the people left, and we regathered as a group, queuing up for festival food and eventually heading home to crash into bed. A good day.
Sunday 20th March 2017
Another wonderfully warm day. Much the same thing happened as the day before…just more of it! I didn't get a chance to leave the gazebo until much later in the day, as we had even longer queues of people interested in talking to us about their art, our distance learning programmes, or just wanting to give painting a go. Handing out materials, paper, refilling paint containers and refreshing muddied water supplies all became a never-ending blur.
I got to visit Kidzone at 4.30pm, where I saw what an amazing job everyone had done with the two day cardboard challenge. Watching and photographing the parade of children’s cardboard creations, I saw a wonderful group full of circus storytellers and actors. It was fabulous! The creative chaos we had all been through the day before had turned into a huge creative success, both for the children at Kidzone, and the TLC team encouraging art and creativity back at the gazebo.
Late that evening my team emptied the gazebo and we packed up the van ready to go. Once the packing was completed, we just had to go and join festival goers at the main stage, and dance our socks off. What a great way to end what was an eventful weekend. Thanks WOMAD!
Sidenote: The Learning Connexion has been warmly invited back to WOMAD next year and we are very keen to return. My only thought is that hopefully, this time, we’ll have the time to get some more dancing in!”
To learn more about studying creativity and art through distance learning at The Learning Connexion call 0800 278 769, or request a prospectus.