The King of the Notting Hill Carnival, Norman Jay, has been confirmed as our first guest for The Good Life Experience 2017! Norman Jay MBE is unquestionably one of the most respected and popular DJs in the world today. Co-founder of the legendary Good Times Sound System and London dance music station KISS FM, Jay fostered the ‘Rare Groove’ scene pushing the boundaries of the UK’s emerging club culture. Awarded an MBE for services to deejaying and music, he recently compiled his most eclectic compilation to date, ‘Good Times Skank & Boogie’, and he continues to convert generations of clubbers to the cause, championing new sounds, yet never forgetting his musical roots.
The current shop opened for business a little over six years ago in a building made from Scottish larch. It has subsequently won endless awards including True Taste's Best Farm Shop in Wales two years running and The Countryside Alliance's Butcher Shop of the Year.
The Farm Shop employs over 50 local people and serves thousands of customers each week. The shop is owned by Charlie and Caroline Gladstone who, along with Cerys Matthews and her team, are the creators of The Good Life Experience.
Caught by the River was born on a bankside seven years ago. Although initially an idle conversation between friends, it soon grew into an online forum for all things outdoors – angling, bird watching, walking, drinking, listening & living. In the years since the first post, Caught by the River has featured contributions from writers, artists, musicians and like-minded thinkers such as Bill Drummond, Robert Macfarlane, Chris Yates, Bobby Gillespie, Melissa Harrison, Frank Cottrell Boyce, Chris Watson, Amy Liptrot, Richard Benson, Charles Rangeley-Wilson and Emma Warren among many, many others. Many of these pieces are collected in the anthologies Words on Water and On Nature (published by Caught by The River) and in the site’s semi-regular fanzine, An Antidote to Indifference. We are thrilled to welcome Caught by The River for the first time to The Good Life Experience this year.
'Caught By The River are not only friends of ours at Pedlars, but unquestionably the best curators of books and ideas about nature and the environment in Britain, as well as being really nice guys and guaranteeing anyone that joins them a lot of fun' - Charlie Gladstone, Co-Founder of The Good Life Experience.
See the full line-up from Caught by The River here.
Jim Parkyn has over 16 years experience working as a model maker in the world of stop motion and film,television and theatre. With this background in animation, and with the help of his wife Lea, Jim has been inspired to combine the world of theatre and animation and build ' The Scene machine'. A combination of puppet Theatre, animation and Phantasmagoria, this unique contraption will make for a unique interactive experience. Jim and his animation technicians will feed the machine to create a Plasti-Scene before your very eyes and you can be part of it! Make a mini effigy of yourself or let your imagination go wild and make what ever takes your fancy. Give your Masterpiece to one of the technicians who will then feed it in to the machine and it will be added to the evolving scene that captures the magic of The Good Life Experience. From blank canvas to finished film you can take part and even appear in this unusual experience. We can't wait to take part!
Axe & Paddle Bushcraft was founded by Steven Le Say who practices and teaches traditional green woodworking crafts and bushcraft skills through outdoor courses. Having worked as a jeweler for many years, Steven drastically changed direction in 2005 to pursue his love of The Great Outdoors and became a gardener and tree surgeon, eventually founding Axe & Paddle Bushcraft in early 2012. He has been practicing and teaching traditional crafts as a hobby for as long as he can remember, so beginning Axe & Paddle was a natural progression. Steven is passionate about passing on these skills to as many people as possible, and at The Good Life he and his team will be teaching three workshops; flint and steel fire lighting, bow drill fire lighting and natural fibre cord making. And there will be bow making too. We hope you will join the adventure!
Alex Pole has been working as a blacksmith -his life and passion- for the past 23 years, and creates beautiful bespoke ironwork commissions under 'Alex Pole Ironwork' alongside his new kitchenware range 'Forge Kitchen'. Alex will be running demonstrations every few hours during the course of the festival. Expect to see a great deal of fire, hot steel and sparks flying at the fully functioning forge set-up with Alex showing you how to get hands-on with this most ancient of traditional crafts and proving its provenance and rightful place in modern society.
Margaret Markland worked in the fashion industry for many years, first as a pattern cutter for a couture design house then as a seamstress. She also had clothes shops and worked on tailoring alterations. Now Margaret's main interests are weaving and crochet. She loves all the new types of yarns available especially the hand spun variety, and she is a member of the spinners and weavers guild here in North Wales.
Golden Bear Belts founder Louise Middleton trained in Ceramics at Camberwell School of Art and worked in the fashion industry for over 15 years. She set up Golden Bear Belts in 2009 and sells her collections at Liberty, London and worldwide boutiques. Louise also runs leather crafting workshops and we are thrilled that she will be returning to The Good Life Experience in 2017 with her hugely popular workshops. At the festival Louise will teach the basics of leather crafting and a range of surface decoration methods; how to emboss, stamp, scribe, cut, hand paint and gild. She will run belt workshops for adults, and for children there will be classes to make leather eye patches,wristbands for superheroes and pouches for foraging in the woods.
Based in Derbyshire, Alison and Peter Massey have 17 years of experience offering practical workshops to both adults and children in the arts of mosaics and metal pressing and we are excited that they will be joining us in September to teach their crafts. Festival goers will be able to take home new skills, imaginative ideas and their own hand crafted works of art.
Helen Gittins is a potter, living and working in the Clwydian hills with her wood-fired kiln. Helen and her team of three are bringing three kilns to The Good Life Experience to teach festival goers all about the raku firing technique, a spectacular and dramatic way of firing that produces amazing colours, from metallic coppers and golds to blue and white crackles. The team will have a whole lot of hand thrown pots at the ready that participants can glaze themselves, and some of the workshops will take place after dark, which is quite something to see.
Gail Bryson is a textile, graphic and product designer. She specialises in simple and graphic prints that complement a wide range of home styles. Trained at Edinburgh College of Art, she developed her design skills at The Conran Shop and The Nest before subsequently becoming co-founder and creative director of Bryson Loxley. Amongst her clients there are John Lewis and Jamie Oliver. She has also collaborated individually with Pedlars and Future and Found on a wide range of projects over the years. Gail is a firm believer that good design will always last the test of time. Her products are designed to last both in design and manufacture, and are hand-printed and hand-sewn in London. Ultimately, her aim is to create things that can passed down through the generations, like the collection of linen she has inherited from her own family. Colour also plays a big part in Gail’s work. Combinations are dreamed up from photographs taken on her travels and provide inspiration back in her studio. In 2017 Gail will join Makers' Row offering screen printing workshops at The Good Life Experience.
Mike and Nia of Rural Kind are designers and makers of simple, functional, and durable carry goods. Their story began with a desire to create objects by hand, using simple techniques and traditional materials, to be closer to the objects in their everyday life. To return to a more sustainable time when quality and craftsmanship were valued over the mass produced and poorly constructed. To know the person who creates the everyday object, and the care and time that is involved in that process. Rural Kind is Mike and Nia's expression of these ideas and a step towards a simpler, more sustainable way of living; producing goods that are well made, thoughtfully designed, and that are built to last. Their goods are designed and made in a small workshop in rural Wales, and at the core of their designs is a love of simple clean lines, considered detailing, and (above all else), functionality. When not designing and making, they can be found exploring the wild hills and valleys of Wales with dogs in tow, or otherwise (mostly) reading, eating vegetables, and stargazing.
Michael May never wanted to be a knife maker. After leaving music college he ended up working in cutlery factory, as was the family tradition. After working in various departments he ended up in the pen and pocket workshop where he remained for three years before leaving to study history at university. Two degrees later he was back making knives. Under Keith Moorby, Michael learned how to make knives to the highest standard, and it was then he realised that this was what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. Over the years, more and more people would ask Michael to make a knife for them as they were impressed at the high level of craftsmanship. He found a workshop at the historic Portland Works, where Harry Brearley developed stainless steel for the use of cutlery over 100 years ago. When it was time for respected knife maker and well know Sheffield character Trevor Ablett retired, Michael bought all his tools, continuing his work and following his traditional patterns that Sheffield is famous for. Each knife Michael makes is crafted to the highest standard, and can quite literally be made with his blood, sweat, and tears. Since learning his trade, Michael feels a responsibility to continue with the skills and crafts that made Sheffield famous.
You may have come across Cambrian Mountains Wool in our Market Place in 2016 with their wonderful Welsh wool. This year we are thrilled that the team will be back, this time on Makers' Row, showcasing both the wool and the makers, offering hands on workshops such as wet felt making and botanical printing onto wool fabric.
Vic Phillips is one half of SingleMaltTeapot along with fiance Samantha Wheeler. During their pursuit of their own take on The Good Life Vic can generally be found with an axe or knife in hand and wood chippings gathering at his feet. Working with sections of wood that would otherwise find themselves as scrap he designs and carves spoons, knives and other items for the home that combine traditional techniques with contemporary styling. Guided by the slopes and curves of the grain he looks to continue the narrative of something that has grown over potentially hundreds of years that may otherwise have reached it’s final chapter. At the festival we look forward to Vic's spoon carving workshops where he will teach several different cutting techniques, giving you the chance to take away your own hand hewn cooking spoon.
Andrew Ziminiski trained as a cathedral stonemason and conservator and works as part of a continuing cultural tradition that stretches back into the prehistory of the English West Country. His business Minerva is based in Frome and, with his business partner Andrew, for the past 25 years he has worked to repair ancient churches, stone bridges and monuments around the counties of Somerset, Wiltshire and Dorset, and his book 'Journeyman' is soon to be published.
Inspired by the blues, four years ago Brian Dodd went back to basics and began making his own guitars out of anything he could get his hands on that would resonate or vibrate, from wooden crates to skateboards to axe handles. Fast forward to today and Brian's hobbie has become a successful cottage industry. Brian is part of a huge community of craftspeople making these guitars which which hark back to the Cigar box guitars of Depression Era America, and he will be building guitars over the course of the weekend at The Good Life Experience.
All the Fun of the Fair. Think high end haberdashery, homespun homewares, and a craft cupboard of delights. A curated sweetie shop of cheery, crafty and charming items. Well known for quirky knitted items from tea cosies to cacti. Knitted pumpkins may be found at the festival.. Crafting experts ATFOTF are bringing their crafty cheer to The Good Life Experience with arm knitting workshop. Just turn up with your arms at the ready and learn this fun, alternative way of knitting. It's fast and fun, and participants will be knitting welly warmers and scarfs in no time. Queen of pompoms ATFOTF's Buzz Stokes will also run sessions on how to make pompoms from teeny to gigantic. Gadgets, gizmos, books, gifts and supplies to make all things crafty will be available on their festival stall, as will be wool..
Mike Keen lives in the beautiful Suffolk countryside and is the owner and executive chef of Ipswich food pub The Brewery Tap and Cult Cafe on the town’s waterside. Born in Colchester but brought up in Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, Mike got a taste for exotic flavours and adventurous cooking at an early age. He has explored the cuisines of four continents, working in restaurants, on cruise ships and in cocktail bars, as a chef, troubleshooter, barman, waiter and delicatessen owner. After many years abroad Mike brought his family home to Suffolk in 2008, working at Jimmy’s Farm of TV fame and as head chef at the Anchor in Walberswick, before taking on the Brewery Tap freehouse in 2009.
The With Love Project started as a idea to find and document a small number of people who produce things with a passion and purpose. Asking one single question along the way... "Why do you do what you do?” Photographer Rob Evans and brand designer/art director Chris Roberts set out to meet 5 people and produce a small book of the people they met. Nearly 40 makers, producers and manufacturers later they managed to finish the book, they've also created a film and documented all their visits on their website. They are constantly searching for new stories, new people who truly love what they do to document and work with. Don't miss Chris and Rob's talk The Importance of Side Projects at The Good Life Experience.
James Sills and Dominic Stichbury -Sills and Stich- are experienced and dynamic vocal leaders who are passionate about getting all people singing. They have led open-access choirs at festivals, workplaces, schools, pubs and football stadiums with an emphasis on fun and inclusivity.As members of the National Voice Network, they are in-demand as workshop leaders across the UK, teaching their own arrangements of traditional and contemporary material. They are members of the Australian all-male a cappella troupe The Spooky Men’s Chorale and their British off-shoot, A Fistful of Spookies, with whom they have performed at major European festivals and live sessions for BBC Radio 2 & 3.
Sills and Stich will run workshops in the Freedom Ale House on the Saturday and Sunday of the festival around our baby grand piano, rehearsing songs which will later be performed to a festival audience. There will also be a Sunday afternoon sing-along and look out for pop-up sing-alongs around the site.
Fancy joining a choir? This is a call out to the more elusive of the hollering species; singing lads and dads. A smaller, more fisherman/ shanty affair, again in the safe hands of Sills and Stitch, when the odd jar of (medicinal) ale is optional.
We’re welcoming everyone who fancies singing in harmony to get together this year to form a choir of epic proportion, under the tutelage of legendary musical directors Sills and Stitch (more on them below). Rehearsals -not too taxing, all-comers welcome- will take place on site in the Freedom Ale House (a spit and sawdust venue new to the festival this year), culminating in a performance on Sunday.
We’re working on the menu, but it will be good. Guests and staff alike will be twelve years and under. No adults allowed.
Kate Cronk is an illustrator and calligrapher based in Forest Hill, southeast London. After collecting stationery for a number of years, she founded her own studio Peggy & Kate in the summer of 2014, combining her love of colour, painting and nature. As both Peggy andKate (Peggy is her middle name), she has grown her studio to include prints, notebooks, her own line of sassy greetings cards (‘I can’t even’), custom birthday and wedding invitation suites, and bespoke paintings of houses, people and pets. Seeking both humour and beauty in the everyday, Kate’s projects are also inspired by the places she loves – from the lushness of her family home and plant nursery in Kent, to London’s historic architecture and gardens. Originally trained in weaving at Central St Martins, in her spare time she enjoys, watching the posh dogs in Dulwich Park and, when she can make it to a body of water, floating on a flamingo lilo.
The Paper Moon is an independent screen printing studio run by Laura Kate Chapman and Johanna Wilson. They are multi disciplinary artists and printmakers who collaborate to deliver fun and educational printing workshops for all ages and at a variety of events and locations.
Johanna, who works under the moniker THAT GIRL has been creating designs and illustrations for the music industry and also creates her own art experimental artworks that explore the possibilities of printmaking. She has given print workshops at music festivals such as Liverpool Psychfest, Liverpool Sound City, and Record Store Day.
Laura has been running her own freelance illustration business since 2009- Laura-Kate Draws. Laura has worked on a variety of commission based projects as well as developing her own range of illustrated gift ware products and hosting illustration and print workshops in schools and museums in the North West. Clients have included The RSC, The Library of Birmingham and Walker Gallery.
The Paper Moon will be hosting a range of print demos, drop in ‘print your own’ posters, and adult group classes across the weekend at The Good Life Experience. All activities are fun informal and accessible to all ages.