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Jan 24, 2018

Littlegig: an exploration of the sensory divine

In our everyday cocktail of emotions, one wonders about the real essentials: pleasure seeking and pleasure creation. In a playful exploration of today’s influence on the niche and the needed, a 24 hour festival of various moods, stories, performances, palate ideas and movement is not just born out of the novelty, it refuels the pleasure system. Littlegig, embedded in the deep subconscious of the learning and the lived, is an idea born from a collective of mood boards and momentum. Finely curated with every structure and detail presented and packaged in a daydream desire one imagines, Littlegig is an exploration of tastemakers, creators and cohabitors who cross – pollinate artistry and individuality into a long breath of 24 hour sensory design.

Given the source of things comes from a need for the new, founder Georgia Black started Littlegig in 2014 as a series of music concerts in interesting Cape Town settings. Based on their success, she saw a gap in the festival market for a small (1,500 people), highly creative event, targeting tastemakers and thought leaders – for people who are time-poor and need a 24-hour hit of nature, connection and inspiration. Lending her mood, experience and sense of wonder, Bielle Bellingham took the reigns as creative director for the 2018 edition of Littlegig.  From the simple thrills of minimal and organic shapes in the branding to the surreal curation of the tastemakers contributions, this annual festival appears to find a medium between the build up to beauty, the innocence of another tomorrow and a universal whisper of desire and artistry.

Bielle’s insertion into the role came about when Georgia asked her on a “blind date of sorts”. “She [Georgia] was looking to design the future festival for the sharp and shrewd– those with radical perspectives. I was looking for a way to completely ‘unlearn’ pumping out the predictable, to spark a seismic shift, and to work with a compelling mentor. We both look at things through our own experimental filters, which are complementary I believe.” The former editor of Elle Deco has had adventures in art direction, creative strategy, styling, art history, digital arts and interior design, as well as curation and judging.

Bielle remains curious and open to a variety of projects by leaning into the things that frighten her. She enjoys spending her time with the “hungry, foolish, gentle, fierce and determined”. When asked who Bielle’s ‘ones to watch’ are, she says the people who stand out the most are the team– the people of Littlegig. “The ladies and gentlemen who design the systems and the production as a whole. I am blown away by their mind-bending attention to detail, their warm can-do attitudes and their acute macro/micro approach.” For Bielle, the experience of Littlegig has been a process of curating escapism where one trades in “unnatural airs and graces and gets stuck in designing transformational life experiences”.

Musically, the curated content is varied enough to provide a soundtrack to life’s themes. Stylistically, the fashion borders on luxe and getting loose, celebrating individuality and creative freedom. The Concept Store is a playpen of liberty and colour, where festival-goers can purchase threads that allow their inner personalities to reflect the outer, while the Salon transforms guests by styling make-up and hair at no cost. No stranger to dress-up is milliner Crystal Birch. In her process of sourcing fabrics and adding magical trims, she looks into how the personality of headwear will come to life at the festival.

Littlegig Festival 2017

“People behave differently when they wear a hat or headpiece, the ones who are usually intimidated by a headpiece are the first ones to celebrate them when in such a vibrant space. I also see each time that the right hat finds the right head and that makes me feel a sense of achievement.” Making guests feel like nature’s royalty, Storm Ross from Holloway Floral Design and Belinda from Bella Passion Florals are collaborating on this year’s floral feature.

It’s not every eye that creates work from nature’s offerings and wants to style it up to create a fantasy, but these two women were brought into a world where the floral kingdoms have become their companions in the day to day. Both encouraged to have plants in their hearts from an early age, the theme has prolonged into work and play. Belinda comes from generations of botanists, nurserymen, plant enthusiast and, landscapers where talk at the table was always around germination, species, the seasons and seeds collected, while Storm grew up creating flower crowns and centrepieces after stripping leaves and plucking thorns on her route to church.

Curious about how our current status with climate and the water crisis is affecting their accessibility of resources, season and sustainability, I ask the two florists about their connection to the foliage in Cape Town. Storm says there is an absolute abundance of foliage and uses locally foraged material and flowers, which always elevates for a more natural and inspiring arrangement, while Belinda guides her designs off “scruffy roadside verge” that most people don’t even notice, which is a treasure chest of beautiful foliage, seed pods and grasses.

The pair worked together last year, creating a majestic archway of jungle-enthused imagery. This year they plan for a more experimental approach by cross-pollinating floristry, sculpture and experiential design to develop a unique floristry language. Guests can expect organic grasses, architectural succulents and modern florals with metals, shimmering textures and gossamer fabrics to create a three-dimensional floral kraal that will delight and push one’s ideas about traditional floristry.

Feeding the minds and temples of our being, Littlegig ensures your ticket includes speaking to your taste buds too. For Ash Heeger of Ash Restaurant, her hope is that each bite holds an interesting flavour and texture. Her creating process is authentic: there’s no real default setting when procuring the menu. As long as they stick to being ethical and seasonal, there’s no strict rules. The food stories that will compliment the platform and setting this year are two dishes that reflect her ethos, with an earthy, smoky, charcoal element to each of them.

Ash is partnering up with Nadia Newton Johnson to facilitate the wine pairings and they will cater to a range of tastes, with a meat lover’s dish as well as something vegetarian. Visual identities make up the mantras of our everyday. To execute what Littlegig has in mind,  Rodan Hart is collaborating with Debra Parkington on a series of sculptures for the Gin Bar, and designing the backdrop for Dear Ribane’s performance on the Basketball Court Night Stage. For the sculptor, Little Gig is an environment that “brings together mediums that often do not coexist and this shared platform provides a unique opportunity for both artists and audience members to engage in worlds outside of their normal circumstances”.

Littlegig Festival 2017

Rodan’s sculptures generally come across as stand-alone pieces, positioned in an environment for aesthetic pleasure, however when met with the notion that his pieces may be seen as self referential, Rodan says the works are “intended to elicit an emotional and physical response about the very constructed nature of spatial context and our experiences of it”.

“ I am excited about the prospect of activity and busyness that will consume my work, and these artworks in particular are some of the best examples whereby the audience becomes an active and intrinsic participant, achieved through the use of reflection and distortion.” Littlegig takes place in a forest 40 minutes from Cape Town on 17 – 18 February. Meet all the extraordinary musicians, DJs, designers, stylists, artists, florists, chefs, winemakers, dancers and magicians who make Littlegig what it is here. Follow the journey: Facebook Twitter Instagram Website By Tamara Arden



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