MY CITY OF CULTURE – MY HULL – 2019 – PART I

Not really knowing how to start this blog post … so I am just going to welcome you and say “HAPPY BANK HOLIDAY”!

 

Firstly, the decision to write a periodical culture reviews in Hull was a big mistake. Four months have passed very quickly and despite having a very mellow involvement with culture and the city, a lot has happened.

2019 started with a positive outlook on upcoming life and work events and I really didn’t want to skip the commitment to the city and its culture/arts scene. I gave myself a relaxed task to share periodical cultural experiences, making it less of a chore.
And here I am  – slightly regretful, unsure and of course still happy to have an archive of four months worth of culture.

To be able to deliver this, I really need to travel back in time.

January ’19

The month started with general wonders around local areas and quick visit to Humber Street Gallery Place to Place by Liverpool Biennial.

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From what I remember – it was a simple, minimalist experience that didn’t really had a wow factor. But I appreciated the tones, simplicity and shapes.

The thing about Hull, camera and me is that in my head I have various visions of specific locations and potential images. So I sometimes plan a random journey, hoping to discover something unseen or not photographed previously.
The next selection is one of those. I wanted to travel down to one of my favourite streets in Hull Boulevard for the mural that has been there for a while.
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Moments before I drove past Hull Marina and recorded the beautiful morning light – this pretty much sums up my January.

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February ’19

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February was a busy month and I remember being surprised by the workload.
Most of my culture consisted of work duties and getting ready for an Artist Takeover #4 exhibition in at Queens House Showcase
Full insight here: ARTIST TAKEOVER #4 @QUEENS HOUSE SHOWCASE

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During the exhibition I held various activities – photo booth, talk about my HOME GLORY series and COME AS YOU ARE photo project.

Free photo booth was a lovely way how to invite people into the gallery and do what I do best – take a photograph.

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The talk about my HOME GLORY series was a an interesting experience to have – it turned out to be an intimate talk with small group of people about my heritage, photographic journey and stories I am trying to tell.  I didn’t need crowds to feel the  support and I am thankful to those who came.

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COME AS YOU ARE was a thing I wanted to do for a while and I was lucky to get a small platform where to test out the idea.
I asked a question to people – what do you carry with you every day and what role does that “thing” play in your life. It all came from the question of why I photograph Latvia and the mundane everyday whilst I am there, family and country.

Again – the attendance was mild, but I felt very lucky to see the people who came. Quality over quantity.

Regards culture two things happened that month in Hull. Annual Ferens Open Exhibition and The Knife Angel in Queens Gardens.

This year I missed the deadline to apply, but it happened for a reason. I didn’t feel like there was anything to exhibit and previous year proved that if you don’t feel it in your gut, don’t submit.

However, to visit the exhibition was a pleasure.
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The Knife Angel left me slightly speechless and amazed. The travelling National Monument against Violence and Aggression gathered people from all over the region and in a way united us once more. It felt like short period of time, but it definitely left a mark in 2019.

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March ’19

By mid March my life was starting to take a bitter turn and my health got in the way of everything. There was a fantastic opportunity to photograph the last Heads Up Festival, Creative ENRG came to a closure and I was part of the Creative Juice event at C4DI.
Plus I went to a very random gig at Union Mashup and stumbled across an exhibition by Lauren Saunders, Rebbeca Addinell and Sinitta Beadle at Hull Central Library.

Creative Juice @C4DI was a farewell event to the amazing journey we all had with Creative ENRG – there was a book launch, great food and very interesting programme all thanks to brilliant event organisation by Eskimosoup

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Being at the event reminded me of the friendships made and the amazing photo opportunities I created for myself by getting involved with the Creative ENRG

Heads Up Festival 2019 was so special this year, it was my third and probably the last as it was announced to take a break for a bit.

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THE PAPER CINEMAS MACBETH

Read a full review here: HEADS UP FESTIVAL 2019

LITTORAL VISTAS @HULL CENTRAL LIBRARY was an accidental discovery whilst in the library for the festival.

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The exhibition space at the library is very well lit and clean from distractions. And the work suited the space well [or the other way round]. I am pleased that Lauren Saunders is getting out there and pursuing her goals.

Make Noise Birthday Bash @Union Mash Up was a very random visit thanks to my friend Oliver. Make Noise Collective describe themselves as “Hull gal collective, working to improve safety at gigs and visibility for women in the local scene”

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One girl really did stand out – Jodie Langford with her spoken word performances. The ultimate highlight of the night.

April ’19

April brought Bankside Gallery event at the Preston Road derelict housing estate, Alec Gill’s Hessle Roaders at Hull Truck and new art space in Hull – Prospect Gallery [it is very new and at the moment the gallery don’t have any online presence].

Bankside Gallery  was a pleasure to visit despite the weather and my moody mood. A lot of new works created in a very unique gallery.

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Hessle Roaders by Alec Gill has been an ongoing journey for many people in past year or so and Alec has made sure that his work don’t just sit in the shelves in folders hidden away. Hull Truck hosted another extension to the work and I as promised to Alec I went to see it.

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I first heard of Prospect Gallery was at the Queens House Showcase at one of the events. It was mentioned and it soon became the place to visit in my [imaginary] list.

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I also got an amazing offer to have my portrait drawn and I agreed. Since then it happened twice and it as an experience to experience. It is a strange task to sit and find a point of interest that becomes your world for an hour or so. And the end result gives you a sight that you never see yourself.

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The space has got a lot of potential and it could become one of the hot spots to visit in Hull.

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In between everything I also was invited to photograph an opening at Humber Street Gallery for A TITTLE-TATTLE TELL-A-TALE-HEART by Athena Papadopoulos and caught a snippet of the CUT.

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CUT  is a a residency project exploring themes of social expression and the acts of self-care centred around their practice of hairdressing. The project takes form of a sculptural installation and events programme where haircuts and client interviews are gathered to create sound and sculptural artworks.

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There was more adventures and exciting work things throughout the four months, but I think I have covered the highlights. And learned a lesson to be more consistent. And discovered that Hull is still breathing culture.

 

HEADS UP FESTIVAL 2019

My initial plans to include Heads Up festival within the future culture post changed after seeing NOW IS TIME TO SAY NOTHING. I really want to tell you the multilayered story of how the installation made me feel and what impact the festival has on people.

NOW IT IS TIME TO SAY NOTHING by Caroline Williams and Reem Karssli is a 60 minute long interactive video installation, that also requires viewers participation.

Reem Karssli is a Syrian film-maker who witnessed Syrian conflict living in Damascus. Caroline suggests to connect with a group of young Londoners via Skype and talk about her life and work. It turns into a four year long collaboration and the end product is a powerful 60 minute long experience. There are no words that I could type here to give justice to the work, it is something to be experienced.

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The idea behind the installation is to question and challenge the armchair passivity. The installation starts with a circle of comfortable armchairs and a small, old fashioned television in front of each chair. The viewer puts on headphones and delve into the armchair for the unknown.

Throughout the installation there are various stages where you are asked to get up and get together with other viewers. Again to challenge a perception of emotional safe space that you save for yourself when most vulnerable.

 

Over the years I have seen a few contemporary art installations, exhibitions, cultural experiences, but never before I felt speechless and emotionally shattered at the end. I needed a few moments to be able to look up and discuss what I have seen, but as soon as the words crossed my lips, tears started choking my throat.

The moment during installation where your hand was inches away from the screen and you felt the static nipping your fingers was the only thing I could imagine visually as a photograph.
The rest was an experience to be felt with every inch of your body, every brain cell.

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My mind was in a state of confusion. The most powerful part was the young niece expressing her hopelessness, interviewed by Reem. I wished at that very moment that I could show that part of footage to the evil that is behind the Syrian conflict. Tie him/her/group of to the chair and make him/her/them watch it over and over again until he/her/they can’t see the screen and hear a word. I was upset and angry.  The other moment that I will not forget was the falling snow and dancing in a circle with myself. I embraced the moment and it took me to my own experiences in the past. It was beautiful and sad at the same time.

Over the following days I felt an urge to discuss the installation with others, I wanted to know if others had the same impact. On Saturday before another Heads Up event I met up with Michelle Dee, the writer and freelance journalist who reviews all the shows. The fact that she was also feeling similar was comforting. In her review she wrote:

“I’m tearing up even now recalling the image of a young girl, Reem’s sister I think, carefully folding and refolding a red shirt, packing it away into a suitcase in a cramped bedroom. She is clearly traumatised, she breaks down, her words escaping her mouth faster and faster, until becoming a cry of despair. She says that she would rather die than face the daily, monotonous torture of being trapped inside by the threat of the bombs falling outside.

What can one person do about a war that is happening thousands of miles away? The pillars of democracy in the west are about as stable and secure as the crumbling remains of the bombed buildings in Syria. Now is Not the time to say nothing. ”

You can read the full review and the other Heads Up reviews via link below:
Michelle Dee Review Now Is Time To Say Nothing

 

Today nearly a week after of seeing the installation nothing has changed in my life. I still watch television occasionally from my sofa or bed, I hear news, watch documentaries and allow everything pass quietly as I am too busy to live my own reality. But there is this lingering shame and feeling of helplessness that I am not part of the global concern about the conflicts that happen around the world or social issues in my own community/city.  I question if small actions and good causes can make up for the ignorance? Or if everything is just too big to grasp and I need to focus on my own life and family?

I can definitely say that Now It Is Time To Say Nothing is the most important contemporary art I have ever seen.

Heads Up festival is a very special festival – a mixture of theatre, contemporary art and installations that makes you think, question, imagine and explore. For the third time I had the honours to photograph the events and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
Thanks to E52 team and artists involved for amazing feedback.

 

Here are the highlights from heads Up 2019

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IS HE ON THE LINE..? by British artist Jez Dolan and Icelandic composer Ingibjorg Yr Skarphethinsdottir

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Dean Wilson: East Coast Fever A short film by Dave Lee

Dave Lee The Orchidian

The Orchidian, a monologue written and directed by Dave Lee

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RACE CARDS by Selina Thompson

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THE LAND’S HEAR IS GREATER THAN ITS MAP by Olivia Furber, Ramzi Maqdisi, 9t Antiope and Hannah Mason

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THE PAPER CINEMAS MACBETH

 

Did you had a chance to see any of the events? What are your thoughts?

MY CITY OF CULTURE – MY HULL – SEPTEMBER 2018

SEPTEMBER WAS BONKERS IN ALL KINDS OF MATTERS. END OF BUSY SUMMER SEASON WITH FREEDOM FESTIVAL 2018, CAMPAIGNS I PHOTOGRAPHED, HEADS UP FESTIVAL, MUM VISITING, ME BEING SUPER ILL AND SUPER TIRED, AND TRYING TO CATCH UP WITH THE WORKLOAD FOR A TEAM OF HUNDRED [FOR JUST MYSELF TO DO].

IN THE IDEAL WORLD I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE SEPARATE BLOG POSTS FOR EACH FESTIVAL AND CULTURE WONDERS, BUT EVERYTHING SEEMS LIKE A ONE BIG BOWL OF CULTURE/ART/PERFORMANCE.

FREEDOM FESTIVAL 2018 WAS AMAZING. AMAZING THREE [NEARLY FOUR] DAYS CELEBRATING EQUALITY, LOVE, CULTURE, ART, COMMUNITY, PERFORMANCE AND OF COURSE HULL. THANK YOU TO FESTIVAL FAMILY TO HAVE ME ON BOARD ONCE MORE.

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Hull University My Plastic Pledge Beach Hub created by Drunk Animal Creative Studios

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Modern day Slavery Exhibition

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Hull Freedom Chorus at L’HOMME DEBOUT RISE!

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Crowds watching L’HOMME DEBOUT RISE!

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Freedom Festival Volunteers

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Street Performers

 

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People enjoying L’HOMME DEBOUT RISE!

HEADS UP FESTIVAL SEPTEMBER 2018

I have been photographing this festival twice and second time round I came to a conclusion that it is a real privilege to work and enjoy meaningful events that feed your brain with high quality theatre and events.

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WHAT IS? COLLECTIVE –  WHAT IS.. EARTH?

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The event was really special. The location and the views just blew away everyone present and the light coming through the skyline windows was magic. The content of the event was refreshing, I certainly felt the irony of the human kind living on the Earth.

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“A What Is? event typically features visual artists, writers, musicians, performers, mysterious sound and lighting and a leap into the unknown.

What is … Earth? To you? For this What Is? we will be taken on a breathtaking and inspiring tour to an exhibition in a secret location that will put you in the perfect position to contemplate this awesome question. The cross-discipline artists of What is? collective have been asking themselves the question and working together to create an experience for you. All art is specially created for the event and location, in response to the theme. The location in unexpected, intimate and we look forward to a fun evening.

A unique experience is guaranteed. Part exhibition, part performance, here’s something that you may never have experienced before. Artists are paired. One creates, one responds. Both reflect on the chosen theme and go on their own journey of self-inquiry and reflection.”

Source: Heads Up Festival website

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UNSEEN BEINGS @NORTH POINT SHOPPING CENTRE

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GROUND CONTROL

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FOREIGN RADICAL by THEATRE CONSPIRACY

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Throughout the month I was working on other photo clients, including Drunk Animal Creative Studios at the British Science Festival, some comedy and CHCP, so it got hot.

I really struggled to find time to go out and shoot some photos for the September culture review, but there was odd moments of inspiration to find time.

There was a moment where I managed to walk through half of the Bankside Gallery down Bankside, which felt like a forbidden walk through the derelict industrial state.

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The image below comes with a story.
Whilst framing the shot, car pulls aside and girl pokes her head out of the car: “THIS IS MY GRAFFITI”. Really made my journey worthwhile.

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On the last day of the month I was heading to Humber Street Gallery for the last day of the exhibition MEASURES OF LIFE and as I was driving past the Old Mill building site/old grounds and there it was – End Of Summer Jam with many, many graffiti artists making the newly fitted walls graffiti-beautiful. I stopped, because I thought its a sign.

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The great, great thing about the event is that it brings wide range of artist together.
I spotted Emma Garness there and it was so lovely to find out more about why she is taking part and what does the collective wall creation means to her.

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The last stop was Humber Street Gallery  MEASURES OF LIFE.

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Humber Street Gallery is reliable to showcase art that will make you think. It can be controversial, but also can be education, often raising awareness of social gunk happening around us, or most of the time making culture experiences exciting!

The exhibition is set on three floors each having interaction with the robots and technologies. There are eight different international artists showcasing multisensory work, exploring our place in the world and the digital footprints we leave.
All artists are runners up or winners of the Lumen Prize for Digital Art.

GROUND FLOOR

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FIRST FLOOR

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SECOND FLOOR

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On the second floor I felt like stepping into someone’s other reality. Especially the bedroom setting, where I found myself a little bit angry with the current obsession of exposing yourself on various social media platforms. As I brought a eleven-year-old girl, who’s becoming a teenager too early, I really felt the damage that social media can do.
It was interesting to watch how Melanija received two messages at the same time – development of technologies and ability to create a bridge between a device and real life objects, and messages spread across the bedroom set.
I don’t think the art can change people’s minds about the social media and technologies, but it certainly will stay in our brains as a possibility….if that makes sense…

 

This month it was work-culture or graffiti, but I still think I did well. I wish to have more and more spare time to be part of the culture scene in Hull, but as the winter is approaching, I hope to have more time to cosy up in galleries.

In October I hope to see the Hull International Photography Festival, new exhibition at Artlink [collaboration with Ground Gallery] and graffiti inspired trip down Preston Road derelict housing for more wall art.

 

HAPPY CULTURE PEOPLE!!
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MY CITY OF CULTURE – MY HULL – AUGUST 2018

Summer is the busiest time of the year for me and I feel like in August I haven’t really engaged with culture in Hull. But then I forget that my photographers job is very cultural and Hull based, so actually I have been in a very centre of culture this month. YAAS QUEEN.

Highlights:

STUDIO ELEVEN: Marie Lofthouse&John Crreighton

TRAENERHUS

DOMINOES HULL by Station House Opera

Yum Food&Drink Festival

NOT SO IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Anna Bean and Sam Fowler @Queens House Showcase

HUMBER STREET SESH 2018 

+ Hull bits

STUDIO ELEVEN: Marie Lofthouse&John Crreighton

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STUDIO ELEVEN is a small space with big potential always having high quality art displayed. Due to its opening times, I don’t often pop in, but this exhibition was worth making effort to come in. John Crreighton is witty and detailed prints draws my eye close in. Marie Lofthouse in contrast to that offers bold, clean shapes that to  my culture-experienced eye [sorry, couldn’t resist] remind me of arms reaching up.

As part of ILLUMINATE PROJECT: LEGACY I went down to TRAENERHUS explore my project aims and subjects, but promised not to miss them on my August Culture review.

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This art space/shop/workshop space is a beautiful celebration of Hull talent in art/crafts and general sustainability of local talented people. To my surprise, the space is loaded with a wide range of gifts, bits’ n’ bobs, framed artwork, postcards…plus it hosts many workshops across the year. Some are tempting to be part of, some interesting to view. I was welcomed with opened arms, the staff is super lovely and friendly.
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One of the weekends in August was ultra busy. I was working for Drunk Animal Creative Studios for ITS NOT TOO LATE CAMPAIGN  Hull University

In between all that I managed to photograph DOMINOES HULL by Station House Opera and Yum Food&Drink Festival

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Special shout out to Atom Beers. Your brews are delicious across the board.

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DOMINOES HULL by Station House Opera was one of those where you really see the sense of the community. The city centre was packed with people, everyone keen to see the long waited fall of the dominoes. Laughs, smiles, cheers and all the good vibes.

I was kind of following the trail of dominoes, but looking at the promo video, I missed quite a bit.
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Massive shout out to Absolutely Cultured volunteers. You are the most important element of most all the celebrations, you are hard workers and often feels like you are the glue that holds together the whole thing. Thank you.

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NOT SO IMAGINARY FRIENDS by Anna Bean and Sam Fowler Queens House Showcase

I know how great Anna Bean is  and I was so so excited to see her exhibition alongside Sam Fowler [new artist to my fave list].

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Queens House Showcase transformed into a whole new level and Anna Bean signature cult fantastical worlds is running the place.

 

So the few Hull bits alongside the culture chunk:

Do you know about the bench in Hull that repeats what you say if you speak to it close enough? I do. Guess were it is…

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Bean & Nothingness is officially opened and I am so glad to come back over and over again.

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And how about a whole new and eco-friendly way of shopping at the refurbished Trinity Market

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The Eco Shed is pretty cool, little shop that sells my new favourite toothpaste.

Hello to Face Painting 4 You for always being on my side at most of my event-based photo jobs. It is always so good to see you and keep a track on your good work.

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AND FINALLY MY FAVOURITE PHOTO FROM RECENT MONTHS
[it can’t get any more Hull than this]

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WHAT WILL SEPTEMBER BRING? FREEDOM FESTIVAL, HULL SCIENCE FESTIVAL, HEADS UP FESTIVAL…..