Spill Festival returns to Ipswich with timely event to mark end of First World War

PUBLISHED: 18:45 13 July 2018

Nabil Vega Visiting Thahab - Part of the Spill Open season. Photo: Nabil Vega

Nabil Vega Visiting Thahab - Part of the Spill Open season. Photo: Nabil Vega


The Spill Festival has just been unveiled and will be staging 150 events across Ipswich. Arts editor Andrew Clarke spoke to curator Robert Pacitti about the event

Portrait of Robert Pacitti outside the Think Tank. Photo: Gregg BrownPortrait of Robert Pacitti outside the Think Tank. Photo: Gregg Brown

Spill Festival of Performance is returning to Ipswich this autumn unveiling its 9th edition with the theme On Time.

Over 11 days in late October-early November, the work of a wide variety of artists from around the globe, will appear in venues across Ipswich and on the streets.

Ipswich Waterfront will be a major focal point for Spill with the installation of a large scale soundscape Clarion Call, a major co-commission with 14-18 NOW, marking the centenary of the end of World War One. The festival is looking to the past, present and future and the notion of being timely.

Robert Pacitti, artistic director, explains: “It’s time to see Ipswich anew. Spill is bringing a packed, bold and adventurous festival to town, with art from around the world for everyone to enjoy. Large scale outdoor sound will sing out daily from the Waterfront, live performances will take place in unexpected locations, kids will reclaim an area of the town just for themselves, and there will be gigs and films and parties galore.

Clarion Call, a co-commission between Pacitti Company and 14-18 NOW, will launch this year's SPILL Festival of Performance. Picture: THOMAS HYLANDClarion Call, a co-commission between Pacitti Company and 14-18 NOW, will launch this year's SPILL Festival of Performance. Picture: THOMAS HYLAND

“If you think the arts aren’t for you? Think again friend, Spill Festival has been lovingly crafted right here in Ipswich, for us all to share together.”

Imagined Touch, an installation at DanceEast is a collaboration between artist Jodee Mundy and two deafblind women, Heather Lawson, a performer, and Michelle Stevens, a pianist. Audiences watch a short introductory film and are then provided with goggles and headphones to be guided through to an unseen promenade installation. With light and sound distorted and restricted, it is touch that becomes integral to connection ensuring this immersive event shares the humour, grief, beauty and profound isolation of stories as experienced by deafblind artists.

Also at DanceEast, Diamond by David Hoyle is a bittersweet journey into LGBT liberation from 1957 to current day.

Spill also marks the first public exhibition of Artichoke’s Processions, featuring 100 banners produced by invited artists and women and girls’ community groups which were taken to the streets of Belfast, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London on June 10.

Figure - Lanre Malaolu, part of the Spill Festival. Photo:Haiming ZhangFigure - Lanre Malaolu, part of the Spill Festival. Photo:Haiming Zhang

At New Wolsey Theatre, Le Gateau Chocolat storms the stage with Icons, the first time this work has been performed with a seven piece band. Walking the tightrope between public and private personas, Le Gateau Chocolat explores the people, the moments, the relationships, the art that have come to shape us.

There are events for children. ‘Block Magic’, a piece devised by young locals in partnership with local architectural practice EDRM creates a constantly shifting playground structure made from coloured crates. Eaten by Mamoru Iriguchi sees Lionel the Lion inviting children to the fascinating world of food chains and digestion. Lionel’s just eaten Mamoru for lunch but hasn’t chewed his food well, so Mamoru’s alive and well in his stomach, and now wants to say hello.

There’s music woven into the fabric of the festival, including a specially-created show by Carter Tutti (ex-Throbbing Gristle); Eve Libertine and Penny Rimbaud (of Crass fame) joined by Charles Webber; English Heretic and more.

There’s film too. The Mirror, a live audio-visual performance which splices together movie snippets with unique sample-based music, allows the viewer to discover hidden stories through familiar images taken from the BBC archive. This joins a film strand including works by David Lynch and Ai Wei Wei.

Over nine days, internationally-celebrated theatre-makers Forced Entertainment condense every Shakespeare play ever written into a series of 36 intimate and lovingly made miniatures, played out on a one metre table-top using a collection of unextraordinary everyday objects.

Spill Open saw 688 applications from around the world for 20 opportunities for artists or groups, regardless of age, to present exceptional work which may have been overlooked. Working between or across forms, and with something meaningful to say, the commissions are spread across the 11 days of the festival.

Sitting on Ipswich Waterfront will be the Pyre Parade bad news effigy. It will be waiting to receive the gripes, grumbles and genuine grievances of visitors, who can post notes into the structure.

Everyone will then be invited to process through the town to Christchurch Park, holding the effigy aloft, stuffed with the bad news of festival-goers and Ipswich residents. Once there it will be set alight as part of the town’s Bonfire Night celebrations taking all the bad sentiment with it.

Robert Pacitti added: “I think people will see a real change in the scope of the work. It is much more family orientated but with over 150 different artworks, there will still be works with bite that will make people sit up and take notice but we are keen to issue an invitation for everyone to take part.”

The Spill Festival of Performance runs from October 25-November 4. For more information visit

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