How we live now
This year’s Latin inspired Flipside Festival at Snape challenges audiences to think about their impact on the planet – in a vibrant, joyful way of course. Catherine Larner previews the event
SNAPE Maltings provides the setting this month for the fourth FlipSide Festival, a vibrant celebration of literature, music and art, introducing Mexican, Brazilian, Cuban and Canadian writers, poets and musicians to a Suffolk audience.
FlipSide was launched in 2013 by Liz Calder, a leading figure in the world of publishing in the UK and a founder of a Brazilian festival of literature held in Paraty, called FLIP. With three colleagues, Liz formed FlipSide, in her home county of Suffolk, to showcase South American talent and encourage conversations with key writers and artists in the UK.
“Initially people were surprised by the concept,” says festival director Genevieve Christie. “It seemed slightly unusual, but we put a lot of energy into putting together something which had a Latin feel. The atmosphere is relaxed and vibrant, joyful. I think people have really embraced that.” The programme is innovative and wide ranging, and, this year, has expanded beyond a celebration of the arts, to challenge the audience to think about ‘how we live now’, the title of a keynote presentation from awardwinning novelist, poet and environmental campaigner Margaret Atwood.
“There’s more of a theme to the festival this year than we’ve ever had before,” says Genevieve. “All our events are addressing this concept in some way, to encourage a spirit of enquiry.” With the world in its current troubled and uneasy state, she says people are ready to ask penetrating questions about all elements of daily life.
“What we eat, how we build our homes and offices, how we cope with borders and barriers, politics. How can we navigate our way? Can poetry help us? Can literature help us? Who are the authors, the great writers, who are addressing these issues? We are looking at how writing is addressing all the different elements of life that we are facing.”
Author of bestseller The Tulip, Anna Pavord, will celebrate landscape as she introduces her latest book Landskipping: Painters, Ploughmen and Places. Architect Michael Pawlyn will give his perspective on building for the future, while journalist and broadcaster Sheila Dillon joins food writer Bee Wilson to discuss the impact of our food choices.
The literary sessions will feature discussions with Ali Smith, Helen Macdonald, Lucy Hughes-Hallett, and poets Jackie Kay, Anne Michaels and Ruth Padel. Brazilian poet, Leonardo Froés, and Mexican writers Álvaro Enrigue and Valeria Luiselli will be giving their perspectives. There will be readings of classic works such as Bruce Chatwin’s In Patagonia and Jean Giono’s The Man Who Planted Trees. In a celebration of one of the world’s most important writers, the late John
‘“It seemed slightly unusual, but we put a lot of energy into putting together something which had a Latin feel’
Berger, film maker Mike Dibb, poet Anne Michaels and actor Toby Jones will remember his work, and there will be a screening of a documentary about the iconic Latin American writer and Nobel Laureate, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
“We want to mix the local with the international,” says Genevieve. There is an art installation by Suffolk artist Jelly Green, which was inspired by and created in a Brazilian rainforest. Writer Iain Sinclair, known for his London chronicles, will talk about his exploration of Peru, and will lead a walk along the river, and there is a children’s jungle trail, exploiting and celebrating the Snape location.
In a mix of free and ticketed events, guests will be able to enjoy sessions of Samba Percussion and the Brazilian Choral Workshop, as well as a Saturday Night Music Party featuring Brazilian classics, and a display of Capoeira dance. There is also an expanding programme of activities for children, both at FlipSide but also in a dedicated children’s festival in Lowestoft in the October half term. This springs from an educational project which the team has been running in schools in Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth.
“The festival is now part of a larger remit of work,” says Genevieve. This broadening scope of work has seen FlipSide become a registered charity. So, in what could be seen as a crowded landscape of festivals both nationally and in Suffolk, how does the FlipSide team believe it will attract people to try something new?
“It is risky to have a programme that is more about ideas than the big names,” says Genevieve, “although we have the big names too. But we’re looking for an audience that wants to get involved, that wants to think.” And to celebrate and enjoy life in all its colour and diversity.
FlipSide at Snape Maltings, October 6-8, and Lowestoft October 24-26. www.flipsideuk.org
Flipside at Snape Maltings