Is it really almost a month since Lady Fest? Unbelievable…in a good way, really. Because the memories of that weekend are still strong.
Another of those “coming home” moments: me, getting to facilitate a small workshop at Ladyfest Ten, billed as “the global independent arts festival promoting and celebrating women’s creativity and counter-culture”. Yay! It so was – and I found myself just lapping it up. Only moment of sadness, I guess, was that I couldn’t stay on til Sunday, when there was a drumming session.
And to be honest, the “running a workshop” bit was the least interesting for me: was far more thrilled just to be part of something so alive, so vibrant so… so brimming with ideas. And knitting, to which we will return in a moment.
My two best memories were the morning session on “Increasing Participation”, which took all of those present on a long journey of self-discovery, culminating in an exercise to map out the “river” of your life. Very interesting.
Intriguing, also, how differently people did the same task, from the highly structured to the disorganised riot of colour: from the verbal to the almost entirely pictorial.
My own attempt, as you might guess, was very wordy and semi-organised. Pictures? Moi? No way!
Then a session on Women in the Media, with Bidesha, Jess McCabe (of the F-Word) and Kira Cochrane (former Women’s editor at the Guardian). Nothing especially dramatically different except…and here I am trying to paraphrase a sense that was present throughout the sessions I attended…something I think Bidesha said: which was that she really didn’t have time to lock horns with individuals over nit-picking issues, when women, in general have enough big issues they need to get on and grapple with anyway.
Er…that’s come out all wrong. What I took from it was a very grown-up approach: avoiding conflict for conflict’s sake and focussing on points of agreement, rather than trying to win petty squabbles. I liked.
Then back to the knitting. Or not just the knitting: but the space in and around the event, where people could chill, sit, chat and just generally engage without either being forced to, or being forced to do so through formal structures. There was both a knitting guru…and space to knit if that was what took your fancy.
Crochet too. But I’ve never been into crochet! Always struck me as sort of going round in circles – whereas knitting was something I learned off my grandmother at age 6 or 7…and am now determined to take back up again. Because, given that my alternative time-consuming activity is to play endless games of computer-driven patience, knkitting HAS to be more useful
So what was good about Lady Fest? Mostly, I think, the fact that it allowed space for people to explore, question and develop, without continually challenging or making them feel inadequate for having failed to have done any or all of the above to some sort of rigid timetable. A gentle experience, that was nonetheless quite profound. Very much looking forward to next year.