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Over the weekend I was invited to the inaugural Festival Of Silence at St Columba’s Church of Scotland in Knightsbridge. Presented by a committee made up of mime artist Rowan Tolley, members of the St Columba’s congregation and female led theatre company Thistle and Rose Arts, the Festival Of Silence was an all day event dedicated to finding silence and tranquillity, amongst the noise of everyday life.
Visitors could participate in various arts-themed activities, including mime, poetry, yoga and sketching. When the invitation dropped into my inbox, I was intrigued by the concept. I have a really busy lifestyle with a full time job and running this website in my spare time, so I was looking forward to some reflective down time. Speaking of which, I was only able to spare an hour or so for the event, but I was keen to find out what Thistle and Rose Arts had planned, especially after finding out that they’d taken some shows to Edinburgh Fringe this year.
An insight into mime with Rowan Tolley
The morning started with an introduction to the festival with mime artist Rowan Tolley. We learned about the festival planning process and the actor also introduced the group to the basic fundamentals of mime and speech without words. This brief insight was fascinating, specifically the discussions surrounding body language and its impact. 20 minutes really wasn’t enough time for this session, but visitors could enjoy an hour-long mime masterclass ‘Exploring a vocabulary of Silence’ for an additional £10 fee later in the day.
All day activities
Throughout the day you could enjoy poetry in Kenneth Steven’s Profound Simplicity: A Meditative Poetry Landscape from 10:00 – 15:00. Steven’s commentary looks at the language in various poems, encouraging listeners to delve deep into the art form and reflect on their own life experiences. Cheryl Beer’s Song Of The Trees (CÂN Y COED): Rainforest Symphony was also available continuously, offering visitors an enchanting and haunting listening experience about the five areas of the Welsh rainforest. Beer is hard of hearing and has created a beautiful sound tribute to this rich ecosystem through repurposing hearing aid and biomedical sound technology.
Timed classes and events
Unfortunately I was only able to stop by the festival for the morning, due to other commitments later in the day, but for an additional £10 per session you could try yoga with Pauline Steenbergen, sketching with Sharon Brindle or the mime masterclass with Rowan Tolley as already mentioned. These add more to the schedule than the continuous events, cementing the Festival Of Silence as somewhere that you could visit for a few hours.
Overall thoughts and next year
It will be great to see if the festival returns next year and also how the committee chooses to grow the event. It is a novel idea, encouraging visitors to take some time out of their lives and find their own silence. I had my phone on flight mode for the morning, which was a rare and positive occurrence. I was also touched by how kind all of the organisers and volunteers were, it really added to the overall experience.
To truly get the best out of the event, I’d have been better off booking one of the workshops, as I found that the continuous activities only took about an hour in total. If the organisers choose to run a similar event again, having a few more unticketed all day activities would expand the schedule.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx
*My ticket for the Festival Of Silence was gifted in exchange for media coverage.