AND Echoes: Sam Bompas

Thu 17 Sep 2020

AND Echoes: Reflecting on festivals and events gone by, and celebrating the brilliant individuals who make these extraordinary moments happen. In the fifth of our series of blogs, we invite Board Member Sam Bompas from Bompas & Parr to look back on his favourite memories of AND. 

In Grizedale Forest (AND Festival 2010) Abandon Normal Devices showed that art could be wild, unexpected and a window to the future. Until heading into the woods in 2010, most of the art I’d seen wasn’t delivered with an ethos, medium or punch I found particularly stimulating.

I enjoyed experiencing Arambo by Geoffrey Alan Rhodes in a woodland log cabin where you remixed the most visceral bits of Stallone’s Rambo through manipulating QR coded playing cards. Then Rob Ray gave us a disorienteering kit and compass and told us to ‘GET LOST’. Encouraged to find our own adventure as, ‘the sense of calm that comes from knowing where you are at all times can be reassuring, but also a bit boring.’! This was all I wanted art to be! Hairy, muscular and encouraging your own exploration.

Personally I’m not too fussed whether something is or isn’t ‘art’. The main thing is that it gives you a meaningful or transformational experience that you might not otherwise be able to have. You may also enjoy watching other people having that experience or discussing it afterwards.

AND’s choice of sites like the Castleton journey (AND Festival 2017) from subterranean cavern to mountain-top bring additional joy to the installations. The works became a full sensory assault. Beatrice Dillon’s infrasonic piece Taut Line in the Devil’s Arse made it feel like the mountain was going to collapse and it was glorious.


Taut Line, Beatrice Dillon at AND Festival 2017. Photo taken by Chris Foster

The work of AND has regularly informed and inspired our personal projects at Bompas & Parr. Following the spelunker-style-screening of The Descent in Castleton, we became interested in cannibalism in cinema, and hosted a tasting of cinematic blood through the ages. With AND, inspiration takes you in the wildest direction. We ended up fashioning a ghoulish party cup from a human skull.

I first got involved through being asked to contribute to AND in Grizedale Forest, collaborating with producer Bren O’Callaghan. We presented a scratch ‘n’ sniff screening of fairytale horror-fantasy The Company of Wolves. All sorts of gruesome odours were micro-encapsulated and printed on William Castle-style scratch ‘n’ sniff cards to capture scenes of animal-human transmogrification. Acclaimed choreographer Micha Bergese, one of the stars of the film in his role as The Huntsman, attended the screening. The evening was a bit awkward but wholeheartedly joyful; I’ve been a total fan of AND ever since, keen to support the energetic work and creativity.

I’m keen to see how AND continues to forge the future possibilities of creative practice and an understanding of art. TS Elliot said that ‘anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity.’ This is certainly the age of for it – let’s see what wonders AND curates next!

Bompas & Parr is globally recognised as the leading expert in multi-sensory experience design. The studio works with commercial brands, artistic institutions, private clients and governments to deliver emotionally compelling experiences to a wide variety of audiences. 

Header image credit: Grazing Jellies (2010), Hudson-Powel at Grizedale Forest. Photo taken by Paul Greenwood.


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