Difficult to believe this but it is already just over a year ago that I commented on the Alde Valley Spring Festival 2015 ‘celebrating Food, Farming, Landscape and the Arts.’ I have visited the 2016 version this morning, on a seasonally cold, windy day when the landscape nevertheless looked splendid. The food, farming and arts looked pretty good too.
First to catch the eye – and taste – was the lamb open pasty: delicious, so I wish I had bought more to keep me going through the week. The farming is rather outside my remit here except to comment that the yard, buildings and surrounds of White House Farm at the centre of the Festival have very obviously been tidied up and made to conform to a greater degree with health and safety requirements. This is fine and necessary as the whole operation is now so much bigger and more ambitious than it was even just three or four years ago; but it is also essential that this working farm very visibly remains exactly that, hosting a festival and art exhibition, and does not become merely stage scenery to what has become primarily an exhibition, event and tourist destination.
The Festival Exhibition this year is themed around the phrase ‘From this Land’ (until 22nd May), drawing ‘inspiration from the landscape of the Alde Valley and Suffolk Coast: from its rivers, fields and wooded areas; from its uplands and lowlands [in relative terms – for this soft, beautiful and silty county is definitely lacking in distinct summits]; and from the general lie of the land.’ There is much to think and write about here which I shall do later, after one or two notes about art on my travels over the last month e.g. north of the Arctic Circle: