Reporting from Base Camp

passionflowerHello there everyone! Thanks so much for coming to Base Camp and making it happen. We are now garnering and gathering people’s experiences of the weekend, so those who couldn’t come can have a glimpse of what took place.

To kick off here are some ace photographs from our ‘official’ photographer Warren Draper and our man in flowers, Mark Watson. If you have any you would like to add to our gallery, do send in to Texts would also be great. We’ll be adding to this selection in the next couple of weeks.


Here to start is Warren’s wonderful panorama of Embercombe, where Base Camp pitched up on Thursday 1st September, taken from the mound above their organic vegetable gardens, orchard, apiary and massive sunflower patch (the flower of the Camp).


Dark Mountain’s 2016 Gathering began on Friday as the ‘doors’ swung open at 4pm. Here to welcome everyone are some of the crew: Charlotte, Jessie and Ava.

The events took place in different spaces within Embercombe’s lush and well-loved fields and woods: around the Story Fire (Georgian Singing) by the lake (Water Creatures), in the medicine garden (Medicine Plant Encounters) and People’s Circle (Field Sensing); the larger ones happened at Centre Fire, the centre’s main hall. Friday night’s magical singing and storytelling happened here under the stars at the Hedgespoken stage:



Two mythmakers stormed the stage at the beginning and end of the weekend: Martin Shaw telling the Siberian story of The Crow King and Red-Bead Woman and David Abram telling an equally gripping story of his encounter with a Northern sea lion colony and a humpbacked whale:


The weekend was a mix of workshops, storytelling, music making, discussion, performance and a big ceremony to light the fire (well, actually candles as it was pouring with rain!) and drink a toast to the gathering with a delicious 15-strong flower and fruit mead, followed by Em Strang’s heart-rending delivery of her post-apocalyptic poem, Stone.

Here is Feral Theatre’s innovative extinction caberet in full swing in the run-up:



However the main theme of the Camp was participation and there were many places where folk could take part in sessions physically (Rewilding the Heart, Water Creatures), and in discussions (Land Literacy and Farming on the Edge of Extinction, Council of Mothers, Escaping the Wreckage of Education, ). Here Dark Mountain editor, Nick Hunt and nomadic artist Monique Besten team up to speak about walking across Europe and how to create a practice with your feet (the paper ships are made out of rubbish Monique collected on a walk to the Paris climate conference).

Books were of course a big strand with talks and readings from Paul Kingsnorth (Beast), Martin Shaw (Scatterlings), Catrina Davies (Living with Less; Notes and Songs from the Shed) and Shaun Chamberlin, editor of David Fleming’s major opus, the dictionary, Lean Logic.


Here is Dark Mountain editor Tom Smith crewing the ever-busy book stall.

There were also two sessions at the beginning and end of the weekend which involved everyone. Sunday afternoon’s was a vast mapping of all the strands in the gathering and the encounters that had taken place. Hosted by Base Camp’s session holders they were: Myths and Storytelling; Arts and Community; Seeds for the Future; Walking and Singing the Territory; Rewilding the Body, Rewilding the World; and Rethinking Society:


Here is the first one, The Children’s Map of the Future – which according to map steerer Finn Salter had lots of birds in it…


Birds were a bit of a theme.


Many thanks to all the Base Camp and Embercombe crews who made this happen and to Warren Draper (black and white) and Mark Watson (colour) for their photographs. Full set of Warren’s pictures of the Camp can be found here.