Mintfest International Street Arts Festival

Lakes Alive’s flagship festival, Mintfest brought Kendal alive with art and creativity for an action packed weekend of large scale outdoor events and street art activities and interventions.  Kendal is a wonderful venue for a street festival and this year Lakes Alive programmed events at five locations along the high street, in two of Kendals parks, in its river and inside the K Village  shopping centre. In fact, Mintfest was hard to avoid this weekend but you would not want to. Ive attended the previous two editions of Mintfest and this year its programme and its audience was bigger and broader in scope and scale.

Compagnie Luc Amoros (france), Page Blanche

Page Blanche

Luc Amoros’s Page Blanche was my festival highlight and I have certainly never seen anything like it before.  Six artists played with a giant scaffold canvas, using 300 kilograms of paint and 360 square metres of plastic film to create, destroy and then recreate unique art works live. The experience was like watching  animation in real time but much better as this animation was physical not digital and the spectacle of skill enacted over the duration of one hour was utterly compelling and awe inspiring. Page Blanche laid bare the process and work involved in the expression of human creativity for the audience to watch. The performance told a political, painful and thought provoking story. This was spectacle with a message and a content driven art work.  My only criticism is that it was not environmentally friendly – could they not have thought to give the plastic pages they tore down to the audience as a momento? Unless the recycle them for the next performance.

Page Blanche

Page Blanche

This years MintFest programme ventured further into sound art with a project called Sonic Landscapes which invited the public to take a sonic walk throught Abbot Hall Park where speakers were hidden in bushes, playing out soundscapes of different emotions, I found myself dwelling in the outback of anger instead of linguering in the plateau of happiness. Created by young people through a residency at Lanternhouse in Ulverston, it was an evocative and contemplative experience admist the mayhem of the town centre and Mintfest street interventions. My legs were subsequently gaffer taped for giving a grape to a silver head peeping out of the walking theatre show created by Kinetic Theatre from Australia.  ‘ A tasty slice of black comedy where entertainment comes with silver service’. Definately

Kinetic Theatre, Australia - Entree

There are many experiences and acts to mention that were fantastic and a distinct flavour was given to the festival by the art form of dance with both small and large scale performances spanning contemporary, ballet, hip hop and asian dance styles from artists including Axiel Dance, Bridget Fiske, Motionhouse and Academi which I  thoroughly enjoyed. Mintfest made me want to dance. It made me want to laugh. It also made me reflect and think and wish that I lived in a world where all the parks had sound walks, all the streets had resident street acts and every night of the week presented major shows from all around the world. It would make the world a much happier and healthier place.

Also worth mentioning is he banquet sited in the river with performers knee deep in water in the dark, serving food and drink to members of the audience brave enough to sit in the middle of the river at a table in the pitch black.

Lakes Alive is clearly on a journey of progression, with each annual season ramping up the anti in terms of quality, scale and scope. What i experienced at Mintfest inspired me. The programme was both coherent and diverse, the individual works exqusitely sited, professionally staged and produced and every performer a highly skilled representative of an artistic craft. I cant wait to see what they are going to deliver for the games time year in 2012. Lakes Alive have already achieved in its first two years what many festivals and organisations take a decade to get to.

The full story and flavour of this years Mintfest, undoubtedly its best year yet, is best told in pictures.

Strolling acts on streets of Kendal

Street performance, Kendal High StreetAs Lakes Alive organisers always say at their events: Lakes Alive is Cumbria’s unique contribution to the build up and legacy of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

~ by Debbi Lander on September 5, 2010.

One Response to “Mintfest International Street Arts Festival”

  1. The photos brought back happy memories as we have been visiting the mintfset for several years and they have all been brilliant, I just hope they can continue

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