August 26th 2012, I was invited to deliver an artist talk at the 39th GreenBelt Festival. The only Christian Arts Festival of it’s kind, that takes place at the Chelternahm Racecourse over a weekend, where tens of thousands of people camp out in tents to celebrate some of the best faith-inspired art. I’ve never been to Glastonbury Festival, but i’ve heard Greenbelt described as the ‘Glastonbury without the drink and drugs’, instead replaced with lovely God conscious people and a pleasant family friendly environment. I also met people who weren’t particularly religious, but just appreciated being in a positive environment. Even on the #gb12 hasttag, i noted that there was a general positivity, without the usual complaints about this and that, that is so prevalent on Twitter.
I was part of the visual arts program and delivered a talk entitled ‘Sacred Street Art: Colouring the Concrete Jungle’ an extract that appears in the official guide i’ve included below. I must say, I have spoken to audiences across the globe, but this has to be one of the most receptive audiences i’ve ever engaged with! I was conscious that i was one of very few muslims present at this festival, but felt honoured to have been invited. It was totally refreshing and went away inspired, feeling that more of this work needs to happen, engaging with audiences and spaces that one would never normally engage with.
A muslim at a christan festival? There is nothing odd about that. There is lots to learn from one another, and its spaces like this that can offer a refreshing retreat from the chaos of the city, to explore issues together. Met lots of interesting people, and had lots of feedback from those who said they had learnt a few things from myself that they could implement in their own communities. Mission accomplished? No, we have only just begun! Lots to do, and look forward to engaging with Greenbelt in future!