Henge Festival 2022 was an enormous success and brought together over 300 people, from babies to grandparents in a joyful celebration of our environment, common history, and community. A contemporary arts event in performance, music, poetry, dance and the visual arts, it celebrated an ancient landscape and its people who settled here, near the River Thames over 4,000 years ago.
Audiences enjoyed seeing the schools of St Helen and St Katharine, St Birinus, Wallingford and Didcot Girls’ working supportively together and cheering each other on. St Helen’s delivered a fantastic dance performance choreographed by Michelle Uezzell which gave pleasure to so many. Emilie (9M), one of the nine students who performed, said “We performed 3 dances signifying birth, marriage and death. At the end of Henge, there was a barbeque and we all got to see the amazing artwork made by other schools. Overall, we all enjoyed ourselves! Everybody was nervous to begin with, but once the show started, the night was really fun!”
The various school performances also served as inspiration to the students at Abbey Woods Academy, Dorchester and Long Wittenham Primary Schools for their own artistic and historical projects. After the event, a member of Dorchester Primary School shared “The children have really enjoyed the Henge workshops leading up to the festival. It was useful for them to engage with their local history, and to gain a richer understanding of the early development of their community. The children also wrote some exciting poetry with local poet James Carter, based on the importance of the nearby Rivers Thames and Thame, as the origins of their Community”.
Henge was attended by teachers, museum staff and artists from throughout Oxfordshire, who were all equally delighted. Contributing artist and one of the organisers of the event, Dionne Freeman, who created large paintings capturing the dynamism of the ancient Dyke Hills, commented “The young people performing and sharing artwork were fantastic – they really made the event come to life. So inspiring and so much hard work! The land art looked embedded in the landscape and so professional. Thank you to all the artists for their commitment and flexibility in putting this together”.
Professional photography Christopher Baines – a film of the event is being prepared by Christopher Baines which will be shown at the Cornerstone Art Museum in Didcot
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