We are living in a world that is becoming increasingly divided, where the extra-human dictates social code and conduct and where, in the developed world, communities are becoming an eroded entity. The amount and quality of our deep inter-personal connection and love, of all kinds, is weakening; it seems that we’d rather chat about last night’s football game than why you are depressed or why your trip home was stressful. Emotion is being shunned from our conversations with our families and friends. Levels of happiness are dropping globally. In 2012 psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School published the findings from The Grant Study, a 75 year study of 268 Harvard graduates that aimed to unearth the fundamentals of living a happy and fulfilling life. In Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Grant Study, George E. Vaillant, who directed the study from 1972-2004, concluded that ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ All the evidence from the study points towards this conclusion.
What then is the natural antidote to this? What have we been ignoring? For a generation that is constantly being labelled as ‘soft’, we are recognising the power of art and community to re-engage humanity with our intrinsically creative selves.
This is the basis that The Thrown Gauntlet Festival was founded on. The festival, scheduled for Saturday 28th of January, is a gathering of many arts: music, poetry, photography, painting, dance, theatre, film to name a few specifics but the festival does not dictate exactly what can be shown. As long as it is logistically practical and accessible to the audience within the context of a mixed arts festival, then the work and artist will be given due consideration. As a result, any artist in the local vicinity (or anyone really) is invited to submit an application to perform or exhibit their work. To apply, artists must complete the application form which can be found by scanning the barcode at the bottom of this article with your smartphone, or by searching ‘Thrown Gauntlet Festival’ on Facebook.
The festival will begin at 1pm on the 28th January and will run through to the late evening. All the artistic happenings will take place in the gardens, sitting rooms, bedrooms and kitchens of a generous group of people who live in the Jacob’s Hill area of Falmouth (the hill above Jacob’s ladder, between Killigrew Street and Woodlane) and who have very kindly donated the use of their homes for the day. Some houses will have the backdrops of art installations for performances. We want our audience to experience the festival incidentally, fuelled by a curiosity to engage in their unknown and enjoyment. The day will follow a studio like, drop-in structure; for example, at 1:45 you could pop into a house on Wellington Terrace and be greeted by a piece of short theatre, only to leave five minutes later and be stopped by a poet under a lamp post for an impromptu recital and then wonder on to a textiles workshop on Marlborough Road. Please don’t feel obliged to stay for the whole duration of a performance, the festival is yours to enjoy as you wish. Performances will be staggered throughout the day but all exhibitions will stay in place throughout the whole day. The day will be rounded off by an evening of celebration, at Jacob’s Ladder, with lots of music and merriment.
Thrown Gauntlet Festival is the brainchild of Amos Jacob, founder of New Pantheon Club and a student of Music, Theatre and Entertainment Management. We met in his home, one of the confirmed venues, to discuss the outline of the festival, what we wanted it to be and, the unquantifiable, what we want to achieve from putting this together. Ultimately we kept on returning to the same basic principles: the importance of community and art, a liberal and loose approach to organising, programming and experiencing the festival and providing a platform for people to share and enjoy art. In this respect it is heavily important to acknowledge the legacy left to Falmouth by Tom Stockley and his crew at Space 37 (now known as The Uncollective), who literally pumped life into a revival of our DIY arts scene. The gap left behind has meant other sources have grown into that space, one being the Thrown Gauntlet. Community is reflected in the organisation of the festival. Several Falmouth based collectives, as well as a few other individuals, are co-operating to organise and run the festival and they are as follows: New Pantheon Club, run by Amos, Medical, a mixed arts events crew headed up by Rob Ive, The Word Zoo, a poetry open-mic night with a splash of music run by yours truly, Mind Garden Apparel, an ethical clothing brand who collaborate with local illustrators/artists to create limited edition screen printed lines, Mouth Magazine, a regular arts periodical, and Flatpack. Together these collectives of passionate creatives are combining their expertise to put together a festival that meets all of the objectives outlined.
To begin to realise this antidote, recognising and simplifying it become necessary in order for it to become widespread. Loving people fully, creating and then sharing art, by default our emotions, feelings and thoughts, are the imperative ingredients in this injection. To paraphrase the fabled Saul Williams, it’s incredible that something so ancient, i.e. coming together to share and connect over art, is taking place in such a context that is so aggressively controlled by modern aggressors, technology and the like. What we are seeing and participating in is a vital resuscitation of this ancient ritual. It is making people happier by bringing them together, by giving them a platform and strong voice to shout with, it is giving them supports. Essentially, it is a living and thriving example of George Vaillant’s statement that ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’ The Thrown Gauntlet Festival is incredibly proud to support this notion.
The Thrown Gauntlet Festival will take place on Saturday 28th January on Jacob’s Hill, Falmouth. All details, including how to apply to perform or exhibit your work, can be found at facebook.com/newpantheonclub/