Base Camp – the video!

Hello Base Campers! We are delighted to bring you a wonderful reminder of our September Dark Mountain Gathering at Embercombe, shot by our Swedish friends, Gustav Ågerstrand and Lucas Grind. Catch a glimpse of some of the weekend’s workshops, talks and performances and its joyful late summer spirit.

PS Another smaller gathering will be happening this month in Reading. Called ‘The Night Breathes Us In’, the event will be a celebration of the Spring Equinox, as part of Reading’s Festival of the Dark, and is orchestrated by DM curator Dougie Strang (see DM Events second entry).

Base Camp 2016 from gustav ågerstrand on Vimeo.

Long life, honey in the heart


By the end I felt as if we were all buzzing like bees in a beehive — that we’d briefly come together into a vibrant superorganism


Our gathering at Base Camp is now over but hopefully it has left everyone with some good memories, stories, ideas, new friendships…and a lovely taste!

Central to the event was the celebratory toast with mead raised on Saturday evening. This drink made from many kinds of wild and garden fruits and flowers was everything we wanted to bring to our Dark Mountain weekend at Embercombe*: wildness, conviviality, plants, people, sweetness, and, of course, alchemy.

One of the most heartening things I heard about the future during the weekend was Molly Campbell (in Land Literacy and Farming at the Edge of Extinction) talking about her work with Native Americans to bring back the buffalo in South Dakota. When the buffalo return, she said, the prairie restores itself and flowers and species we thought were extinct reappear. So it is with ourselves: given the right conditions seeds we have held inside us begin to unfold and take root.

unspecifiedIn Dark Mountain 8 I wrote about the first herbal mead elixir I’d made for a workshop that became a kind of metaphor for the Project:

I wanted to show how if you gather some creative uncivilised ingredients (people) together, they can make a heady and healing and joyful brew. What is happening in that Kilner jar is the magic and medicine of fermentation – communities of microorganisms working together, exchanging material, creating new forms, making life happen.

Since then with my mead-partner, Mark Watson, I have experimented with many kinds of fruit and flowers throughout the seasons. We have changed the ratio of honey and water (more honey, less water), forgot about making tea from the plants, just adding them straight to the mix and after two weeks straining them and keeping the jar in the fridge.

Here is the basic Base Camp recipe made from late summer fruit and flowers, gathered on walks across the Suffolk marshes, after swimming in the sea, from neighbourhood trees and the garden:



Local still spring water

Raw honey (wildflower from Wales, heather from Scotland)

Fruit: Yellow cherry plums (main), sea buckthorn berries, blackberries, rowan berries

Flowers: marsh mallow, vervain, mugwort, heather, marigold, lemon balm, marjoram, anise hyssop, birch leaf, blackcurrant leaf


Shake approx half a jar of honey and one litre of water vigorously together. Add a handful or two of fruit and sprigs of flowers.  Shake again. Leave in a place out of sunlight where you won’t forget to stir energetically at least once a day and to ‘burp’ the jar. Should be ready after two weeks, depending on the warmth of the room. Strain and keep in fridge.


Mix with elderflower cordial, white wine and fizzy water to taste. Enjoy!

* Embercombe have their own natural beekeeping apiary set among an orchard of over 100 varieties of apple tree – a collection of 7 top-bar hives (kept for the bees themselves rather than honey production).

Images: feather at Embercombe; ‘Three Acres and a Cow’, performance at Centre Fire by Warren Draper; herbal mead elixir making for Base Camp by Mark Watson; drinks, girls and sunflowers by Bridget McKenzie.

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.



Getting ready to roll

Base Camp is pitching up at Embercombe this coming weekend and we’re really looking forward to meeting you all. We open at 4pm on Friday 2nd September and will close around 4pm on Sunday 4th September. See you there!

The Shape of Things to Come

We have now uploaded the Base Camp programme onto the website, so do take a look at everything that’s happening this September (listed under Programme on the top bar). Meanwhile here are the gatherings that will shape our weekend together:


Garrett Hupe 2
‘Where to, where from?’ by Garrett Hupe (Issue 7)

Welcome to the Dark Mountain Base Camp 2016. At the heart of our gathering you can find a question: if we no longer believe the stories civilisation tells us, what are the ones that might bring meaning and joy for the future? Since The Dark Mountain Project began it has looked at collapse and ecocide, felt grief and despair, found its roots in place and time, brought together fellow artists, writers and thinkers. So what do we need to know and speak to each other about now?

This is the territory we will be exploring during a weekend of talks, workshops, performance, encounter and conversation.

Like all good stories, our programme will have a beginning, middle and an end – a welcome, a celebration and a farewell. Here is the outline plot:


Different Paths to the Mountain

Base camp is the transition point in any expedition. It’s a pause, a taking stock and a honing of intent. It’s the place where things get real, where we see the track before us begin to rise more steeply, leave behind what is no longer necessary and gather what really matters to move ahead.

In this introductory session, hosts Charlotte Du Cann and Dougie Strang will invite everyone to take stock, share where we have come from and what has brought us to the Dark Mountain.


unciv '12 by andy letcher 3

Gathering at the Fire

After a full day of listening, discussion and participation, Saturday evening will be about singing and performance – first music and theatrics in the main hall. And then, in the dark, a procession to the woods to gather at the hearth, to sit between the shadows and the flames and to sing and tell stories into the night. Expect surprises!


Redrawing the Maps – The Return

Base camp is about what we take with us for the rocky road ahead. What can we take from the experiences of our gathering at Embercombe to make sense of a world that is falling apart? We set out to ascend an unknown and difficult path and at the same time find ourselves descending into a forgotten valley that feels like home.

Words-that-matter(!) jpg
Detail from ‘Map of the Journey’, A Dark Mountain Workshop, curated by Dougald Hine with artist Monique Besten in February 2016, Stockholm, Sweden.

This session will invite everyone to create the road maps that will sustain us on that paradoxical return journey – in language, in culture, in myth, dreaming and action – maps that cohere and connect and convene, and lead us towards the future.

Looking forward to seeing you in September!


Charlotte Du Cann, Dougie Strang and the Base Camp crew

Base Camp programme is taking shape!


Tickets are selling at a pace for the great Dark Mountain Gathering this September, our first for three years, held in the lush Devon valley of Embercombe. Nearly all tickets have been snapped up, so if you are thinking of coming, this is a quick spring reminder to book now and secure your pitch:

The Base Camp programme is now shaping up and we’ll be putting up full details here on the website in the next few weeks. Already it’s a feisty and enticing mix of talks, theatre and workshops with lots of space for conversation and encounter.

Come and meet the artists, writers and editors of the Dark Mountain journals and see them action: on our stage Em Strang performs her post-apocalyptic poem Stone, Paul Kingsnorth relates the roaming of his upcoming Beast, Rima Staines takes us into the hedge-brambled world of Tatterdamalion, Nick Hunt and Monique Besten across the trackways of Europe, following the winds and the sea, Catrina Davies into her music-making tin shed by the cliffs of the Atlantic.

We enter the realms of mythology and wild intelligence, guided by Martin Shaw and (with luck) David Abram. We look at the future of knowledge and learning with Dougald Hine, Keri Facer and Ben Vickers, the future of land and food growing with Chris Smaje, Jules Pretty, Cate Chapman and Molly Campbell. Shaun Chamberlin launches David Fleming’s dictionary Lean Logic and Surviving the Future. Marmaduke Dando hosts his signature Powerdown music night.

All these, alongside storytelling around fires, night time appearances from Feral Theatre, herbal mead-making, Georgian singing, deep listening, wild swimming, a renga (poetry!), roots music and more. Experience a weekend of exploration, discussion and surprises on the edge of civilisation this September. See you there!

Image: detail from Hole Earth by Robert Leaver, Rabbit Island, Ireland (photo: Finbarr Kinmonth-Duerden) One of the must-see performances at Base Camp


Tickets now on sale

We’re very pleased to announce that tickets for our Dark Mountain Base Camp are now on sale. Take a look over our freshly updated website with all the details. To book a ticket, head over to the ticket page for more information. See you in September!