HUGH

On a mission to bring out the artist in everyone!

The summer of 1995 saw the emergence of Hugh Jarts Mobile Murals on the festival circuit. Their massive painting screens became a common, colourful sight, bringing a new experience to many thousands of festival goers.

For those not acquainted with Hugh Jarts, they provide a 400 foot square canvas (on an easel), as well as the materials and enthusiasm to persuade festival goers to come and paint. It’s free and the painters are encouraged to do pretty much whatever they like. The end result being a detailed portrait of that particular event, with both Hugh Jarts and the contributors rightly proud of their efforts.

The people behind Hugh Jarts come from a largely travelling background. With the demise of the free festivals, Hugh Jarts members Samantha, Charlie and Pete, began looking for a feasible way of 'blagging' it onto the festival sites (jumping fences etc becomes difficult with youngsters!). Like many travellers braving out Britain energy was focused on putting together a successful blag. They seem to have hit on a good 'un.

So where did the idea come from? Samantha of Hugh Jarts is credited with having come up with the idea, she explains how it came about.

It was at the Harvest Fayre at the end of summer 1994. An ambulance next to us was opened to the kids for painting on, it kept them amused for hours. Whilst enjoying the break we saw the potential for the idea.

That initial idea was the first piece in the jigsaw. That winter other parts came together. A skip out the back of a stage design company was getting regularly filled with useful wood, a playground supplier provided the paint and a small youth group in Bradford gave us the chance to try out the idea. It wasn't until the early summer that we were ready to approach the festivals' continues Charlie.

The first festival that Hugh Jarts tried was the biggest - Glastonbury. They eventually made the trip down from Bradford, despite vehicle problems (surprisingly ????). Behind schedule, the screen went up over night and the first of the Hugh Jarts distinctive backdrops was painted on the canvas.

Once up and running the response was terrific, with the screen rapidly becoming a running commentary on the events of the festival. Within a few days the canvas was transformed into a kaleidoscope of colour, images, messages and ideas. All those groups that make up the 'one love' collective (and a few that don't) were well represented. From Frontline to football fans it was a cumulative effort that everyone who was involved can be proud of. Seeing the screen progress was one of the most satisfying pieces of visual entertainment, I'm still finding new pictures on it seven months after completion' says Pete.

Building on the success and enthusiasm generated at Glastonbury Hugh Jarts went onto do a V.W. Bash, Phoenix, The Festival of Fun and the Big Green Gathering as well as an interesting youth club project in Somerset, where locals investigated Agenda 21. From the initial idea to put a reasonable blag together Hugh Jarts have grown to realise the validity of their idea. They've identified a need at commercial events to give people something to do as opposed to merely watching, listening and spending. They aim to make festival goers 'creators of the spectacular rather than spectators of the creative'. The enthusiasm from right across the spectrum have shown how effective the simple idea of a communal painting screen can be in allowing people to discuss and share experiences in a way that demands little, discriminates against no one and above all else is thoroughly enjoyable. For Hugh Jarts members it has been an education, whilst providing everyone involved with an excellent summer and a large amount of enthusiasm to continue developing ideas. 'Wiggy' Pete

Hugh Jarts can be contacted on 01274 591334