Between 2013 and 2015 we worked with artist Laurence Payot to create Dunstable Wind Charming Day, a new artwork and folk tradition for Dunstable.
Interested in what makes a place and its people unique, Laurence worked with over 2,000 Dunstablians in the first year, seeking to define what was meaningful and important to them. The resounding answer was the wind. So the artist set about creating a new folklore for the town that celebrated the beautiful landscape and the wind that brings it to life.
She invited the people of Dunstable to spend the summer ‘charming’ the wind through workshops and activities around the town. Then in the later summer people gathered on Dunstable Downs to perform We Are Now, the new artwork and tradition. Costumes were worn, people sang and danced and a spectacular giant shining kite flew in the gale force winds to charm and tame the wind’s powerful force over the coming months.
This film by the artist Laurence Payot and film maker Tim Brunsden, tells the story of the tradition’s first year.
With resounding support from the town Laurence returned in 2014 to develop the new tradition. The last Sunday in August was re-named Dunstable Wind Charming Day and people in the town set about re-creating the tradition with the artist for a second year. Over the course of the summer, from Party in the Park to the Kite Festival, people were invited to write messages to the wind and attach them to the kite when the day came. The artist also teamed up with some of the service users of local charity MIND who helped to create the costumes and kite the second time round.
When the day came people dressed in their wind charming costumes and processed across the downs to charm the wind for the coming months. Over 200 messages were attached to the giant kite sculpture and the kite launched for a second year.
This film by the artist Laurence Payot and film maker Tim Brunsden, tells the story of the tradition’s second year.
“The magic of Dunstable Wind Charming Day is that it brings people together to create something beautiful and out of the ordinary. It’s about celebrating this special place and the people who make it, using the strong local wind as a metaphor for the invisible forces that connect us to each other and to our environment. For me, this event is about feeling alive, here and now, together.” Laurence Payot, artist
Finally in 2015 Dunstable Wind Charming came back for its third year on Sunday 30 August on Dunstable Downs. The event invited the people of Dunstable to dance with the wind, fly the kite and become part of a collective performance.
With special thanks to the National Trust at Dunstable Downs and Dunstable Town Council. The project was supported by The Chilterns Conservation Board. The artist worked with Dunstable Library, Dunstable Markets, Priory House Heritage and Tourist Information Centre, the Salvation Army, Queensbury Upper and Watling Lower schools, the Flying Squad, Highwaymen Kites, Mind BLMK and many more.
Commissioned byBedford Creative Arts and funded by Arts Council England.