Ip-Art Festival highlights local talent

Contemporary dance, award-winning art work and some funky jazz were all part of the mix at the launch of the annual Ip-Art Festival in Ipswich.

By Andrew Clarke

CONTEMPORARY dance, award-winning art work and some funky jazz were all part of the mix at the launch of the annual Ip-Art Festival in Ipswich.

This is the fifth year the town has staged its annual celebration of local art and culture. Unlike Pulse, which attracts acts from all over the eastern region, Ip-Art concentrates very much on the talent to be found in Suffolk and Ipswich in particular.

At yesterday's launch event jazz band Loose Juice entertained visitors with their funky sound, full of swinging improvised rhythms along with pianist Andrew Sterling both of whom are appearing at Ip-Art events.

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The setting for the launch was the Town Hall galleries which is staging an exhibition by artist Andrew Gibson which celebrates the Cornhill as a hub for the Ipswich community. Andrew was the winner of the Ip-Art Award for Visual Art 2006.

He took as his theme the Mass Observation organisation which was founded in 1937 to chart the lives and opinions of ordinary people. Volunteers were used to question people about, among other things, behaviour of people at war memorials, beards, distribution and significance of the dirty joke, anti-Semitism and the private lives of mid-wives.

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This material was then collated and allowed Andrew to produce work which explores human activity - people's reactions to one another in the throng of the Cornhill - using elements of overheard conversations, written observations as well as sketches and photographs.

Mayor Inga Lockington said that Ip-Art was a two week festival packed full of colourful, exciting and challenging programmes in every field, from music, dance, drama and comedy to art, literature, film and sculpture.

The event also includes the very popular Ipswich Music Day on July 1 when local bands, choirs and ensembles play free of charge in Christchurch Park and the colourful Indian Summer Mela on July 8 staged by the Ipswich and Suffolk Indian Association and fills the town with dazzling Indian dances, songs, poetry and music.

There are host of star names associated with literature visiting the town during the Ip-Art fortnight including author Nicci French, who is providing the official Festival Read - Catch Me When I Fall -along with talks and readings by Esther Freud, Rageh Omar and John Preston.

This year there is also an Ip-Art short-story writing award as well as a creative writing workshop.

There will also be open air screenings in Christchurch Park of the latest James Bond film Casino Royale, as well as a revival of Tom Cruise in Top Gun and a live transmission of Tosca from The Royal Opera House.

There are more than 60 events spread across the festival fortnight. Details are included in the festival brochure available from Ipswich Town Hall box office, the Town Hall galleries, the EADT reception and tourist information centres.

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