It was the 10thanniversary of Enchanted Parks, a theatrical multi media extravaganza at the beautiful Victorian Saltwell Park in Gateshead. This time around it was my third annual visit and, as previous years had proved quite a magical experience, I was really looking forward to it. 2015’s theme was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s famous Alice books which are 150 years old this year.
The event is always super popular with local people and all 23,000 tickets were sold out in hours. We had booked ours as soon as they came on sale.
|Post box with something to say|
The artist’s installations were super creative as usual and some were real spectacles of light and sound.. There was also a clock motif running through the event and we were reminded while wandering in the park in the dark, that time waits for no man (or woman)
The clocks are an installation called Tick Tock, Tick Tock by Edinburgh artist Andy McKeown’s production company, Wild Strawberry who specialise in design, animation and video.
|The heart of the park|
The multi media light and video shows continue to appear as you wind your way around the paths of the park but there are also lots of braziers, fire and flaming torches which light up the night in a more primitively satisying way. There are few real flames in our everyday lives now (unless you are a fireman) so it is something that always has a universal appeal.
|One for me!|
The volunteers who guide you round the park seemed a little less chatty than in previous years – maybe the cold was getting to them. They were called Cardsmen and were dressed in Natty long coats bedecked with lights and with tall mad hatterish hats. One explained that the theme was actually about Alice in Wonderland’s 21st birthday party which she is celebrating while visiting the Wailes who live at Saltwell Towers. Indeed Alice’s rather grown up voice was heard emanating from a number of mushroom topped letter boxes around the route, going on about wifi and boyfriends and twitter feeds, just so we know she’s a modern girl. The original Alice always sounded more grown up than the grown ups and I’m not convinced she would ever have become such a slavish follower of fashion.
|Looking for love|
We were handed some 3 D glasses at the entrance to a light strewn bridge and the points of illumination were transformed into a thousand little hearts which was indeed quite charming. The heart theme was continued with a giant mirror ball heart – inspired of course by the Queen of hearts – which slowly twirled and cast a gorgeous net of glittering disco lights across the grass.
|Tell the time tower|
The Alice clock tower in the middle of the lake glowed with a kaleidoscope of colour ways and the neon grin of the Cheshire cat followed us about the park appearing and disappearing along the journey.
|Now you see me!|
One of our favourite installations was the tunnel lit with moving digital video. Cards tumbled through the giant cloche and then red spotted mushrooms popped up and grew instantly huge. The white rabbit came running past and the silhouette of Alice herself strolled by.
The final exhibit was a sort of nightclub venue with cool grooves blasting out. framing the club were eight foot high plastic multi coloured bodies made from empty bottles. They weren’t dancing though, there should have been more dancing. Finally we made our way to the exit, negotiating the inky night. A jolly cardsman bid us good morning (topsy turvy world you see) We love Enchanted Parks, and while we felt less enchanted than in previous years, there’s always a little something to feed the imagination on a cold December night.
|Bottled bodies boogie|
|Better than google|