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17-19Aug2012: Uncivilisation- The Dark Mountain Fastival

Two days of music, art, literature, performance, debate, storytelling, demonstrations and conversations.
HAMPSHIRE, 17 – 19 AUGUST 2012

Welcome to Uncivilisation.

Everything is changing. We find ourselves in a world of economic contraction, ecological collapse and social upheaval. How do we make sense of our lives in times like this? What new stories can we tell to help us navigate changing realities?

Uncivilisation 2012 is a gathering of people searching for answers to these questions. For one weekend in August, the woods and chalk downland of the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire will be home to a festival of literature, music, art and action. It will be a place of encounters and conversations, learning and sharing, stories, ideas, music and performance. There will be campfires, wanderings in the woods, children’s activities, and workshops in everything from writing to scything.

On this site, you can learn more about the guests who will be speaking, teaching and hosting conversations at the festival – as well as the musicians and performers who’ll be livening up the nights, around the fires and on the stages and in the woods.

There’s also practical information about transport and accommodation options.


The full programme for Uncivilisation 2012 is below. Please note that the timings may be subject to change, and that last-minute alterations to some of the events are possible. Any changes will be announced over the course of the weekend.



7 – 10pm: The Friday Night Music Stage
Curated by Marmaduke Dando

Marmaduke Dando presents a night of Love and Anarchy in the woods and under the stars. Expect beautiful chansons, primal blues, protest poetry, and generally riotous performances.

Niall Spooner Harvey
Described variously as an ‘abrasive oddball’ (Apples and Snakes) and a ‘nervous-looking man in an obnoxiously unironed shirt’, Niall Spooner-Harvey discovered poetry at an early age and then everything went wrong. With a performance style verging on the indescribable and a wit as far removed from anything civilised as could ever be imagined, he delivers a gritty spitting polemic against modernity and all its insidious trappings.

The Murder Barn
A cinematic trawl through dusty tracks, scorched corn fields and into dark taverns. The Murder Barn provide a thunderous soundtrack of guitars, accordian, saxophones and harmonies behind singer Chesca Dolecka’s laconic lyrics. Drawing on influences as far ranging as Ennio Morricone, Lynch, and Walker, their performances are always a mesmerising spectacle of beauty.

Bleak are the greatest death blues band this side of the delta. From the plantations of the 1860s Deep South via the jails and chain gangs of the Great Depression and all the way through to the dying days of our own ‘civilisation’, they are here to bear witness to the only truth that we’ve got left – the blues. Their apocalyptic juggernaut of an album ‘…for the Good of the Nation’ is out now on Line Out Records.

Julian Gaskell
The Cornish king of a tumbledown world of gypsy-punk accordion, surf klezmer, speak-easy ragtime, songs of drink, songs of protest, torch ballads, sweet musette waltzes, violent tangos and stomping Balkan skiffle beats. There’s not a man alive that won’t be moved, if not forcibly by the on-stage remonstrations, then by the tender pleading paeans that punctuate the show.


10.15pm: A Fireside Story
Tom Hirons and Rima Staines bring you a tale from the Chukchi people of the far edge of Siberia: a tale of flying tongues and talking skulls, underworld wives and star-brothers, transformings and boundary-crossings and obsidian and fire-breathing reindeer. Sit by the fire; bring your blankets and your unrepentant strangeness, and be ready for curious happenings. At the main firepit, by the marquee.



10am: Welcome
A brief welcome and introduction to this year’s festival.

11.45am: Gambling with the Knuckle-Bones of Wolves: Myth, Initiation, and a Culture of Wildness
For almost twenty years, Martin Shaw has led small groups of people out into the remotest areas of Snowdonia to undergo four day fasts, completely alone, without fire, tent or company. In this talk, Shaw will weave stories and ideas that speak specifically to the issue of a culture that integrates, not denies, the prophetic information that wilderness offers.

Shaw argues that mythology is the heart of ecology, and that certain stories form a kind of echo location from the ground itself. Without the vivid insights these stories offer, we are left with statistics and eco-hysteria on issues like climate change. With them we are left with what the Irish call ‘the right kind of trouble’ – a kind of difficult opportunity for re-discovering connection to a life with vocation, depth and a little style. Martin will also ask: what is Dark Mountain itself trying to say?

Martin Shaw is a mythologist, storyteller and author of the award winning book A Branch From The Lightning Tree. Director of the Westcountry School of Myth and Story, based in Dartmoor national park, Robert Bly describes him as ‘A true master. One of the very greatest storytellers we have.’

2.15pm: The History of the Future
‘The way one does research into nonexistent history is to tell the story and find out what happened. Past events exist, after all, only in memory, which is a form of imagination.’ – Ursula le Guin

Fast forward a few hundred years. What stories will be told in the future to remember, or to imagine, the age we live in now? Dark Mountain writer Nick Hunt leads a storytelling, myth-making and writing workshop, which will explore the conjoined crises of our times as a form of imagined history, narratives to be told around the fire after the lights have dimmed. All welcome: for experienced and novice writers alike!

Curated by Em Strang and Susan Richardson

10.15am: Hedge Fund, Ecopoetry and Activism
Helen Moore, accompanied by Niall McDevitt, will read from her debut collection, Hedge Fund And Other Living Margins, in a dynamic show which uses percussion and a second voice. Helen has been described as ‘an ecopoet with a glorious edge’ and her work is a powerful mix of no-nonsense political outcry and quiet, spiritual contemplation. The readings will be followed by a Q&A, with a discussion about the relationship between ecopoetry and activism.

11.45am: ‘A Wilderness In The Head’ – Landscape and Memory, A Poetry Workshop with Geraldine Green.
Cumbrian-born poet, editor and recent PhD graduate in ecopoetics, Geraldine will lead a variety of writing exercises which allow the imagination to explore, invent and roam through ‘landscapes’, both inner and outer, placing emphasis on the potency of memory in creating new poems. Her work has been celebrated as exhibiting ‘both exuberance and sadness, on an uncharted adventure and uncertain in a backwater, and with a language that’s new-found, new-made for what is needed’ (David Hart).

2.15pm: Wild and Woody – Peripatetic Poetry
Poetry and walking have enjoyed a long and fruitful association, from fifth century Chinese rivers-and-mountains poets onwards, yet contemporary poetry readings rarely move beyond the arts centre, festival tent and pub. Emily Hinshelwood and Susan Richardson regularly lead Poetry Walks in wild Welsh landscapes, and invite you to join them now on an uncivilised wander through the woods, where they’ll perform poems on environmental limits, extinction, wilderness and metamorphoses from their published and forthcoming collections.

3.45: Funeral for A Lost Species
The Feral Theatre will co-create a Funeral for a Lost Species with festival participants. Performance, storytelling, beautiful puppetry, music and improvised ritual will interweave as we explore the tensions that exist around those who are lost. The piece forms part of an ongoing exploration which began with the question: what would a funeral for an extinct species be like? Funeral for A Lost Species considers the social significance of extinction, and commemorates it as a social tragedy. It is a collaborative project which opens a creative bridge between scientific analysis, political concern, and cultural and ecological bereavement. All are welcome to bear witness and take part in this event.

7 – 10pm: The Saturday Night Music Stage
Curated by Marmaduke Dando
Featuring sets from Chris T-T and Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, amongst others. Full lineup coming soon.

Curated by Douglas Strang

10.15am: The Art of Protest
Twenty years ago a group of activists took a stand against the extension of the M3 through Twyford Down in Hampshire, not far from the venue for this year’s festival. Their action marked the beginning of a radical response to the government’s road-building programme. The sustained protests at Twyford and at other sites such as Newbury, Pollok, and Solsbury Hill seem now to represent a high-water mark in the history of the UK environmental movement.

Launching a sequence of talks and exhibitions to commemorate those protests, Andy Letcher and Adrian Arbib will discuss the ways in which art can inspire and drive radical movements. Adrian is a photographer and activist who has primarily focused on indigenous land rights, both in the UK and abroad. His work provides a defining record of the road protest era. As part of the programme, there will be an exhibition of photographs from his book Solsbury Hill. Andy is a writer, lecturer and folk musician with an interest in magic, shamanism, and environmental protest. He is the author of Shroom: A Cultural History of the Magic Mushroom, plays in both Telling the Bees and Wod, and is a veteran of the Newbury Bypass Campaign.

11.45: Fairy Tale Workshop for an Uncivilised World
Fairy Tales are the simplest form of symbolic storytelling – they give space to our deepest fears and highest hopes. Yet their patriarchal, class ridden, feudal trappings bind us in a state of oppression, reinforcing humanity’s separation from nature and man’s dominance over woman. What stories then should we be telling our children?

Simon Lys, writer and director of the Gaia Theatre Collective, will lead a workshop exploring how and why these ancient tales are failing us. There will also be an opportunity to do something about it, by devising new stories fit to help the brave uncivilised world to come.

2.15: The Earthsongs of England
The road protest camps were more than just a stance against specific projects, they were also a distinctly uncivilised alternative to mainstream life. In grasping for a more authentic and rooted culture, they embodied a kind of imaginative, defiant dwelling on the edges.

Weaving personal reflection and readings from their work, authors Paul Kingsnorth and Jay Griffiths will explore the ways in which their involvement in the protests and their experience of the camps has had a profound impact on their writing.

3.45: A choice of two experiential workshops, both starting at the Big Yurt:

1. Civilised Mind/Wild Mind/Infinite Mind

The dualistic tension between the wild and civilised aspects of our consciousness mirrors the wider conflicts in our culture and lives. Using methods based on Buddhist meditation and voice dialogue, Luke Devlin, director of the Centre for Human Ecology, will lead us on an exploration and interrogation of the multiple ‘voices’ that make up the ‘self’, leading to a profound encounter with a more-than-human reality.

2. ‘This is how we make Real People’ – stepping into sanity through wilderness rites of passage.

We have always gone into the wilds to mark the changes of our lives and temper our souls in solitude, to be initiated and to remember ourselves, to become the men and women we might be. In this society of perpetual adolescence, what place is there for the processes whereby adults are grown? What happens when ‘Real People’ get thin on the ground? This workshop will serve as an introduction to wilderness rites of passage work. Everyone is welcome, no matter your age, gender or experience. It’ll be at your level. With Tom Hirons, who has conducted wilderness rites of passage groups in Scotland, Wales and England.

5.30pm: Uncivilised Fairy Tale Telling
A short half-hour session with tales from Simon Lys’s earlier workshop. Suitable for children and adults. Meet at the big yurt, though we may lead you off into the woods!


10.15am: An introduction to Scything
Scything teacher Beth Tilston introduces the art and craft of mowing grass with a scythe – an ancient and modern piece of human-scale technology. Come and have a go: you’ll never use a strimmer again. Meet between the car park and the campsite.

5pm: Herb Walk
Tom Banks will lead a relaxed wander through the woods around the site, introducing the herbs and flowers which grow there. Meet in front of the marquee.

7pm: Dance workshop with Wod
Don’t miss this opportunity to immerse yourself in the burgeoning Brythonic dance scene! Wod play rich, drone-based dance music. Taking new and traditional English, Welsh, Cornish and Breton tunes as their starting point, they mesh together the rich timbres of fiddle, concertina and English bagpipes in long, extemporised and evolving sets. This is a rare chance to learn a couple of beautiful folk dances, with expert tuition from the band. No previous experience required, just a willingness to dance. Meet at the main firepit.

9pm: Loss Soup: a participatory play
Please take your place around the fire for a roll-call of lost species, vanished languages and disappeared cultures. Gather round, stir the broth and taste extinction on the tip of your tongue — the auroch, the laughing owl, the Barbary lion, the giant short-faced bear, the root-spine palm, Island Chumash, Skepi Creole Dutch, the Caribs, the Karankawa – blended together and stewed to eternity in the fabled Loss Soup.

Based on a short story by Nick Hunt, first published in Dark Mountain book 1. Produced at Ferment by the Bristol Old Vic. At the main firepit, outside the marquee.

10.15pm: A Fireside Dance
You’ve learnt the moves, the sun has set, now it’s time to gather by the fire and dance to the strange, enchanted music of Wod. Dark, repetitive and insistent, they’ve been likened to some travelling band from Hardy’s Wessex playing at the behest of Lord Summerisle! With Andy Letcher on English bagpipes, Jane Griffiths on fiddle and Jim Penny on Anglo concertina. At the main firepit.


In addition to the scheduled activities, there will be dressing-up clothes and art materials available in the childrens tent all weekend. The tent will be supervised by Annie Davy of The Nature Effect, who has over 20 years experience working with children. The tent will be open from 10am each day.

Please note that the tent is not a crèche! Young children must be supervised at all times. See our guidelines for parents in the printed programme.

11.45am: Animal Tales
The world is full of fantastic creatures, all with fantastic tales (and tails). But there are always new stories to be told! Join naturalist Gilbert White – as interpreted by Alex Fradera - who knows more about wildlife than most, to discover and become part of these stories together. Expect dragons, bears, selkies and more!

2.15pm: Make a Willow Crown
With Annie Davy. All welcome!

5pm: Kids Council
The Kids Council returns to Uncivilisation! The interactive problem-solving format, developed by Florence Koots, and facilitated by Alex Fradera, allows children to advise adults on their problems!

Children of 8-12 (or thereabouts) who want to take part should meet at 5pm for a briefing. Then, anytime between 5.30 and 6.30, adults can visit the newly formed Council for advice on any issue they choose. Last year, the grown-ups received advice on how to form closer connections with distant friends, and gained insight into starting a family.



2pm: Sacred Stories
Martin Palmer has spent his life studying the connections between human belief and our relationship to the world. He is currently working with the Club of Rome, forty years after the original Limits to Growth report, as it faces the limits of data-centred ways of speaking about our situation. He joins Dark Mountain co-founder Dougald Hine for a conversation about the search for new stories and the legacy of old beliefs.

3.30pm: Farewell
Festival-goers who want to stay on site for the Sunday night are welcome to do so. Fires will be burning and there will doubtless be much singing and talking around them. But the formal programme (and the food and drink stalls) will close at 3.30 with a brief farewell, and perhaps a poem or a song, depending on the mood!

Curated by Em Strang and Susan Richardson

10am: Nothing Not Wild
Gerry Loose, poet, artist, garden-maker and activist, will be reading from work that has moved him towards a re-interpretation of how we experience ‘wild’. He will also read and talk about some of his own work, focusing in particular on writing about place. ‘A person with a clear heart and open mind can experience the wilderness anywhere on earth. It is a quality of one’s own consciousness. The planet is wild and always will be.’ (Gary Snyder).

11.30: Dark Mountain Writers
This is an open-ended slot for writers and readers to come along and talk to each other. After sharing snippets of their work, writers published in Dark Mountain book 3 will have the chance to talk about the inspiration behind their work, why they think what they write is ‘uncivilised’ and anything else that takes their fancy. Readers/listeners will be able to ask questions, quibble and hopefully celebrate some fine work from contemporary non-fiction, fiction and poetry writers.

2pm: Wolf At The Door
Em Strang, poet, writer, hen-keeper, will share new work about wolves and women in the woods, where strange, unexplained things happen. Her work, predominantly a new-fangled take on mythic narrative, explores the relationship between the human and the nonhuman. Em’s poetry addresses notions of placelessness and liminality, interconnection with and disconnection from ‘the natural world’

Curated by Douglas Strang

10am: Rise and Root
Uncivilisation is about creating a space for difficult conversations. In this session, we ask the big one: how should we act in an era of failed leadership, as exemplified by the farce of Rio+20 and its ‘sustained growth’ agenda? Given accelerating climate change and ecocide, how do we process our own feelings of anger and despair? What can be done, and how do we even talk about this stuff without retreating to entrenched positions?

The Dark Mountain Project is one response to such questions, but there are many others: movements such as Transition and Deep Green Resistance, all representing a spectrum of possible responses. This session, hosted by members of Mearcstapa, offers an opportunity to explore common ground as well as conflicting strategies, and to ask what action is necessary and possible in these times.

11.30: Extended Horizons: Unprogramming the Apocalypse
After another year of facing up to topics fierce and scary, Uncivilisation offers us the rare chance to address our concerns collectively, physically and experientially. What if our fear of The Apocalypse – whether collapse, anarchy or authoritarianism – stems primarily from a lack of true connection to one another? What if The Apocalypse is a meme that has been conditioned into our minds and bodies; one that is central to the societal mechanisms that are causing so much damage, danger and misery? What if that perspective could be dissolved? What if we could use consciousness, community and nature to de-programme The Apocalypse where it lives – inside ourselves?

Combining mindfulness games and perception experiments with voicework, tactile connection and physical movement, Steve Wheeler will guide a collective exploration of the possibilities.

2pm: Nine Miles
‘For many of us, the way we looked at the world became gradually less incisive and theory driven and more keyed in to subtler dynamics. It had a lot to do with living in the woods. The theories were still important, but secondary now to a wider world view that encompassed everything anyway.’

In a fitting conclusion to our commemoration of the anti-road protests, writer and musician Jim Hindle will read from and discuss Nine Miles, his chronicle of the Newbury Bypass campaign. The book is much more than just a history, and in this session Jim will share with us his personal and moving account of the journey towards a radical, ecocentrism.


10am: Childrens’ flax workshop
Make beautiful woven flowers out of New Zealand Flax using Maori techniques, with Jacqui Banks. Really simple patterns for anyone and everyone!

2pm: Disobedience: Chris T-T Sings A.A. Milne
Acclaimed alt-folk singer Chris T-T (‘Outstanding, indispensable genius: a modern-day Blake’ – Sunday Times) returns to Uncivilisation with his family friendly show of A.A. Milne’s 1920s poems set to fresh new music. The show was a grassroots hit at the Edinburgh Fringe last year. Suitable for all ages!


11.30am: An introduction to Scything
Scything teacher Beth Tilston introduces the art and craft of mowing grass with a scythe – an ancient and modern piece of human-scale technology. Come and have a go: you’ll never use a strimmer again. Meet between the car park and the campsite.

2pm: Herb Walk
Tom Banks will lead a relaxed wander through the woods around the site, introducing the herbs and flowers which grow there. Meet in front of the marquee.


The Free Space
Bring your own session! The Free Space Tent and the grassy area surrounding it are open throughout the festival for anyone to offer a discussion, workshop, reading or demonstration. Book a space on the board outside the tent. First come, first served.

The Bookshop
The bookshop in the main marquee will be open from 11am to 3pm on Saturday and Sunday, selling Dark Mountain publications (including book 3, hot off the press!), and books, CDs and merchandise from many of the festival’s performers and participants.

A collective of artists and performers who have been granted a fool’s licence to bring an anarchic creativity to the festival. They will provide an unpredictable extra layer to the programme: shape-shifting theatre; art and performance on the edges; the festival’s dark fringe spilling from the woods into the main spaces. There will be opportunities to take part, make your own art, and join them for a wild hunt in the woods!

Light Leaves
In among the trees, dug into the earth, and framed by a miracle of modern digital technology, Light Leaves is a open-invitation photographic installation created especially for Uncivilisation by Cat Lupton, Bridget McKenzie, Brian McKenzie and Tony Hall. It explores themes of regeneration, decay, hope, mourning, technological innovation, organic evolution, urban and rural habitation, and the pull between immersion and detachment as attitudes of human being in the world.

Light Leaves will be installed the stand of conifers immediately to the right of the compost loo that you’ll find up in the woods behind the shower block. Participating photographers: Fern Albert, Elizabeth Bennett, Andy Broomfield, Virginia Cobler, Jeppe Graugaard, Tony Hall, John Harrington, Cat Lupton, Bridget McKenzie, Sonja Benskin Mesher, Nick Potter, Yvonne Overton, Jeremy Sandrick, James Taylor, Sarah Thomas, Jake Weigel.

Where are we Going?
This exhibition of mounted prints by Kim Major-George and poems by Steve Thorp is woven around humankind’s spiritual and secular connections with earth. Steve and Kim’s piece, The Fixing of Things, appears in the new Dark Mountain book, and the exhibition is touring galleries and spaces around the UK throughout 2012 and 2013. The exhibition is accompanied by a beautifully produced pamphlet containing all the images and poems from the project, which will be on sale in the festival bookshop. Steve will be also reading from The Fixing of Things during the festival.

The exhibition is showing in the Sustainability Centre conference room for the duration of the Festival.

Flax-making workshops
Jacqui Banks will show you how to make beautiful woven flowers out of New Zealand Flax (Phormium Tenax) using Maori techniques. Really simple patterns for anyone and everyone! Weekend-long, in the Free Space area.

Green woodworking
Green woodworker Martin Kibblewhite will demonstrate and talk about a range of traditional green woodworking techniques. Weekend-long, in the Free Space area.

The Land
The Land magazine will be running a stall all weekend, selling magazines and publications related to its central theme: access to land for all.

The Hermitage
Artist Rima Staines, who created the cover for the second Dark Mountain book, will be bringing her magical stall to Uncivilisation again, selling her artwork and leather carnival masks by Tom Hirons.