July 25, 2018

James Ashfield blogs about International Festival Visit to Avignon

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Lunchtime Thoughts.

I have just come back from Avignon in France after spending an amazing couple of days at Festival D’Avignon. A beautiful city where history and legend have come together to provide a wonderful stay. Among winding streets, tree lined squares, historic buildings and beautiful sunshine, you can lose yourself in the moment of it all, listening to the sound, admiring the art and meeting the wonderful people of the city. There is a real sense of community here.

Then again, if it wasn’t for Google Maps then I would have most definitely ended up in Marseille somehow… But it’s the kind of city where getting lost is pretty exciting as you meander your way through the narrow streets of the old town. Somehow you’ll always end up at your destination.

The laughs, the wine and the cheese were second to none on this trip. Couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be with. The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries cohort are amazing. From sitting in a courtyard drinking and revelling in the France-Belgium match to crowding round an iPhone to watch the England-Croatia match (let’s not talk about it) on the Eurostar it’s been an incredible, somewhat surreal experience and it is mostly down to the people I was with on this trip.

The art was also incredible. I went to see Sasha Waltz Kreatur, Ovni & Thomas Jolly’s Thyeste. The latter being one of the best productions I have ever seen technically. Set in the beautiful grounds of Palais des Papes it was something that will be hard to come across again. The sheer spectacle made up for the language barrier and the wave of sound coming from over the walls (France beat Belgium in the World Cup Semi Final…)

I also attended talks with Damien Godet, Ildi Eldi Collective, Olivier Py, Cecile Asmar, Alison King of Turtle Key and Emma Cameron of No Fit State. Interesting to hear views of people running the festival and artists attending it. I asked the question Why Avignon Specifically?

Festival D'Avignon, July 2018. Image: Sharlie EvansFestival D'Avignon, July 2018. Image: Sharlie Evans