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Sputnik Zone at Catalyst Festival, 2016

Catalyst Festival is now just days away, and the SputnikZone is ready to rock. We’re really excited about running the artistic side of things once again this year and I thought I’d let you in on the grand plan. For those who are coming, it’ll help you plan your programme, for those who have decided not to come, it may sway you to book a day ticket or two, and for those who simply can’t make it, I’m afraid, I’m just writing to rub your noses in it. So, what’s the plan?


This year, there will be, not one but two, art exhibitions. In the main foyer, we’ll be putting on our madebymotive exhibition. Last year, our friends at Creative Arts Network, initiated an open submission project focusing on the motives that lie behind creative work. We’ve taken some of the work from this and thrown some other artists into the pot to showcase a fantastic collection of fine art painting, photography, music, film, sculpture and poetry. And through all of it, the artists exhibiting will be explaining why it is they do what they do.

There’ll be some Sputnik regulars, but we’re delighted to include work by new friends such as:


Luke Tonge


Jon Doran

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Ruth Naylor


Stewart Garry

As if this wasn’t enough, Catalyst Festival is putting on Rob Cox’s ‘A Walk Through Isaiah’ too. Over many years, Rob has created a print for every one of Isaiah’s 66 chapters, and for the first time ever, the whole collection is being exhibited. Rob is a personal inspiration and I’m delighted that his work will be exposed to such a great audience. He will be something of a resident artist throughout the festival, and I’m hoping that his sense of craftsmanship, passion for his artform and carefully thought through synthesis of faith and practice will set a precedent for all of the artists in Catalyst’s family of churches.

Live Performances


The live performances kick off from the get go. Go and visit the main hall on Saturday afternoon and you’re likely to hear Brum’s finest folk quintet, Midsummer.

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On Sunday afternoon, Dieks Anthony will be hosting an afternoon of spoken word and performance poetry. It’s brilliant to see so many poets coming out of the woodwork for this year’s session and you can expect performances from Tajhame Franics Bill Gordon, Jess Wood, Dieks himself and many more.

Monday afternoon switches to live music. We’ve got a cracking line up, featuring:


Benjamin Blower, showcasing his new album ‘Welcome the Stranger’,


Pythagoras the Praying Mantis’ gritty boom bap hip hop,


and the heartfelt and powerful sound of Joanna Karselis

and that’s just scratching the surface.

As well as focusing on motive this year, we wanted to highlight something of the process behind the work too. Therefore, Rob Cox and Chaz Friend are going to be creating live throughout the festival. Rob will be painting and Chaz creating a large willow sculpture in the main festival square (if the weather holds out). You can go and watch them at work or even help Chaz out. For those who have seen the latest Radiohead video, don’t worry, he assures me that the final reveal won’t be a wicker man!

Film night

Two years ago, Joel Wilson came and hosted a showing of his film ‘the Quickener’. That evening is still one of my favourite festival moments, especially because of the q and a at the end. This year, as a late addition to the bill (not in the programme), we’re delighted to introduce you all to Pip Piper  of Blue Hippo Media. Pip has almost 20 years behind him in film making, and has a string of award winning documentaries and dramas to his name, including The Insatiable Moon and Bicycle. On Monday evening, after the main meeting, we will be showing his documentary, Last Shop Standing, about the rise, fall and resurrection of the independent record shop. Then he will be answering your questions.


If you have any interest in film making, or just in films, or you simply want to meet a Christian who is living out his faith in this challenging yet hugely exciting industry, then. Don’t. Miss. This.

Actors’ Meet Up


Unfortunately we’ve had to shelve our grand plans for an evening of plays, rehearsed and performed at the festival. However, we are still very keen to gather actors and anyone involved in the world of theatre together. At 2pm on Sunday in the main cafe, Phil and Harri Mardlin, of LifeBox Theatre and Stagewrite, are going to host an actors’ meet up. As a church based arts network, we want to learn from you guys in the dramatic arts as to how to serve you better and how best to connect actors together, especially in Catalyst churches. Therefore, if you’d like to explore this or simply just want to meet some likeminded people, drop in and say hello.


And I haven’t even mentioned our workshops yet! We will be running art workshops on each afternoon from Sunday to Tuesday, 2-5pm. The plan is thus:

Sunday- willow weaving, story telling (to children with additional needs) and jewellery making.

Monday- jewellery making, print making and a workshop exploring how to start creative projects.

Tuesday- willow weaving and a workshop for creative writers exploring the use of metaphor.

All the details will be in the handbook, but please book in as early as possible (preferably on Saturday afternoon) as places are limited.

One last thing…

We always want to focus on creating rather than talking about creativity, but every now and then it’s probably worth explaining a bit about why we are so keen to promote artists, the arts and creativity. Honestly, there is some thought behind this! If you don’t believe me, come along on Tuesday afternoon to our SputnikTent, where I’ll be doing a seminar entitled ‘Communicating into our culture through the arts: How and why?’ Not the snappiest title, but to be honest I thought it up just now and need to get back to preparing the gallery, so it’ll have to do! Basically, if you’re a creative person considering which direction to take your work or someone who is simply puzzled as to why so much time and energy is spent on the arts at a Christian festival, then it will be an hour and a half well spent.

See you at Stoneleigh.

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