Annual arts festival Elefest returns to Elephant & Castle this month, bringing with it another programme full of live music, exhibitions, talks and performances. Now in its 13th year, the festival is a firm favourite amongst many Londoners. Naturally, we couldn’t miss the chance to catch up with founder Rob Wray to find out what you can expect from this year’s events!
We spoke to you ahead of last year’s event, but how will Elefest 2015 be different from previous years?
This year we decided to have a smaller, more intimate festival.
We know there are a lot of exciting things on this year’s programme, but which highlight are you most looking forward to?
I’m delighted that Nigel of Bermondsey is bringing his Lucky Dandy alter ego to the festival this year. The Dandy has a penchant for reworking 80s tunes with a skiffle vibe, and what’s not to love about that? But festival goers can get involved by exhibiting themselves at our launch exhibition, taking part in a guided walk with award winning local guide, Isobel Durrant, and dancing the festival out with local ska legend Natty Bo. And if you don’t like any of that, you have no soul!
All events this year will all be held at the Longwave Bar in the Artworks Elephant Road – what makes this venue so suited for Elefest?
We opened Longwave so that Elefest would have a year-round home, so it makes sense to focus all our efforts there. We deliberately decided not to seek funding this year, so this is a return to our roots.
What would you say was the best thing about working for Elefest?
Well, I’ve been the director of the festival for 13 years now and have lots of fantastic memories from all the events. We’ve done everything from tea dances to solar powered cinemas, to hosting exhibitions in the subways under the roundabout. We’ve given a stage to the very best of local talent, and brought some fantastic acts to SE17.
Elefest is in its 13th year now – how would you say Elephant & Castle has evolved over this time?
I think the Elephant has always been changing, it is a very different place to what it was in the 70s, 80s and 90s. For example you didn’t have a large Latin American community in the shopping centre back then. My only hope is that all of the communities that live, work and play in the area will be given some space to breathe in the future.
So what can you expect from this year’s programme?
Friday 25 September
Kicking off at 6.30pm in a suite of converted shipping containers, guests can don their best artistic outfits and throw themselves into a boozy art party featuring the works of different artists. Curator Denise Flower said: “You are a work of art too. Make a show of yourself – you could win a prize!” Once the party is in full swing, guests will be treated to a set by DJ Stewart Who?, while taking in the works of art, and they can even buy limited edition prints.
Saturday 26 September
From 7pm on Saturday, live music from up-and-coming local band, The Elephants and Castles, will get the party started. Banjo extraordinaire, the Lucky Dandy (Nigel of Bermondsey), will also be on-site to entertain you with ragtime versions of hits from the 80s so make sure you’ve got your dancing shoes at the ready!
Sunday 27 September
Sunday is guided walk day, led by award-winning Blue Badge London Guide Isobel Durrant. As a local resident, Isobel is one of the best people to guide you around Elephant & Castle and Walworth and will show you what lies behind all the roundabouts, the results of previous regenerations and the communities that make up the neighbourhood!
Between 4.30pm and 7pm, audiences will be entertained by literary performance, In Yer Ear. Showcasing new and established writers and musicians, all with an intriguing story to tell, the line-up will cover everything from contemporary poetry, prose, travelogues and criticism. The spoken word will then be followed by some fabulous music from Robert Hacker Jessett.
Wrapping things up, local legend Natty Bo (Ska Cubano, Top Cats) will be spinning beats at the Elefest closing party.
Fancy getting involved? You can catch Elefest at the Long Wave Bar in The Artworks between 25-27 September. If you pop down – make sure to let us know in the comments below!