Students create Glastonbury-inspired installation made entirely from paper

A life-size paper celebration of ‘The Great British Music Festival’ experience, inspired by Glastonbury’s 50th anniversary and painstakingly created by students, has been officially launched in Birmingham.

A group of 15 first year students at Birmingham City University created the immersive and realistic ‘Flaming Forest Festival’ indoor scene, which features a four metre wicker-style fox, a secret stage complete with DJ and soundsystem, a merchandise stand, a food and drink concession, camping areas with tents and rows of festival toilets.

Two kilometres of brown paper and 200 metres of corrugated card were used during an intense three week installation making process. It is the fifteenth year the annual paper installation challenge has been set for those beginning the three-year Design for Performance course.

After working around the clock, the students created the large-scale piece which will be open to the public from Monday 27 January until Thursday 30 January at the University’s Parkside Building. Scenography lecturer Hollie Wright, who oversaw the project and has been building links with the music festival industry for a number of years, praised the hard work of the students, saying:

“This year we have chosen a theme that celebrates the increasingly popular UK festival scene. We see music festivals being a major part of the UK’s live event industry, growing year on year.

“We’ve previously worked with 2000 Trees, Live Nation and Download Festival and our newest venture is working with Boomtown Festival – so we’re delighted to weave real life industry experiences and expertise into this particular project.

“The students have been working long days together – early mornings and late nights with pizza being delivered to studios! To produce something of this scale within the time frame is tough going and requires tenacity, determination and new skills – all of the students hard work is of course rewarded with the huge achievement that is the final ‘reveal’ to family, friends and industry guests.”

Olivier-award winning British costume and set designer Rob Howell, a former student of the course, officially opened the installation by cutting a brown paper ribbon on Thursday 23 January. Howell, who was behind the visual design of acclaimed West End shows Matilda the Musical and Ghost the Musical, graduated from Birmingham polytechnic in 1989. He described the new student work as ‘incredible’, saying:

“It’s lovely - human and full of soul. It’s also important to be reminded of a necessary relationship with such a tactile material. So much time needs to be spent on creating the small things before they can be scaled up so it’s great that the students get to experience this as part of their work.

”The endeavour is a reminder that life and stories all have rough edges”

The Design for Performance: Theatre, Film and Live Events degree course at Birmingham City University has evolved over the past 70 years and embraces the many design and production opportunities available within the entertainment industry. Recent music industry initiatives, including PRS Foundation’s Keychange, are tackling gender inequality in live music line-ups including working towards a 50/50 gender balance in festival programming across the UK.

Glastonbury Festival chief Emily Eavis is aiming to meet this commitment around the 2020 line-up – a move that Hollie Wright welcomed, and called to be extended to production, saying:

“We think this commitment by Glastonbury is fantastic. We’d like to see it being rolled out across all production roles and to crew as well .It’s something that we’re quite conscious of, particularly as over the past ten years our students are made up predominantly of females.

”This year we have a 80/20 female to male ratio, so it’s important for all graduates to feel secure there is a progressive and welcoming industry with opportunities for all waiting for them once they graduate.”

Students Archie Stephen and Poppy Wilkes were amongst the group of students who created the installation. Archie, 20 from Nottingham produced a funky house, bassline, and disco set for the Flaming Forest Festival creation said:

“It does look like a paper festival - which is exactly what we were going for.”

Poppy, 23 from Birmingham, has been to Glastonbury Festival with her family every year since she was seven years old – making her a 17-time veteran of world’s most famous live music event. Poppy paid tribute to the festival’s Down the Rabbit Hole hidden bar as her inspiration for the ‘secret stage’ within the new installation describing it as ‘wild’ and ‘a completely different experience’.

The Flaming Fox Festival - on the ground floor of Birmingham City University’s Parkside Building - is open daily (excluding Sunday) until 4pm on Thursday 30 January 2020.


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