All photos by Ed Waring.
Ahhh, the sweet scent of meconium cutting through the unrelenting nasal onslaught of cheap scented candles. This unusual combination would not be everyone’s evocation to the fact they were in the presence of their most valued objects, but it is most definitely mine.
Above my baby girls cot, just to the right of her change table, hangs a mobile made for me by people involved with the band Hope and Social. It spells out the words “Have Fun Make Art”; each letter uniquely decorated by hand.
The saying “Have fun!, make art!” came out of a tumultuous period of reflection for Leeds band Hope and Social around the time they changed their name from Four Day Hombre .
With hindsight the change of name now seems incidental in comparison to the change of approach. The band wanted to carry on, but they didn’t want to carry on as they had been.
I’m not in the band, I help out, but I was there as the remaining members talked frankly about what they enjoyed most about being a band.
It quickly, clearly and unanimously came down to two simple things:
1) The fun times.
2) Making things that deserve to exist.
And that was it. Our hedgehog concept was formed. From that moment we vowed to pass every single decision through a simple filter. Is it fun? Is it creative? Anything else was out.
Meetings were a lot easier from then on.
Q) “Shall we make a tour poster”
A) Yes, but lets involve amazing people in making it, that will be fun and we might make a tour poster that deserves to exist.
Q) Shall we make some merch?
A) No, lets make some art instead, lets make the most beautiful deck chairs on gods earth and play musical deck chairs on them. They will be beautiful, we will have a right laugh, and people will want to buy them.
And so it goes.
So simple. So engaging. So life affirming.
We were a bit shy about it at first, in fact the first time we officially used the saying was on this very site, here.
The effect of this decision has been staggering. It seems that living and breathing these simple words is infectious. People seem to want the same thing. People want in.
The music is first and foremost, anyone who has ever seen the band live will tell you that you come away from a gig feeling centimeters taller for the experience. The band are an explosion of talent and creativity on stage. Without that there is nothing. But there is so much more outside of that that people also connect to. And people do connect.
They connect because Hope and Social stand for something, and its authentic. It’s not a bolt on. It’s not manufactured. Its not about “fostering creativity in fans” [puke] or “Retailtainment” [wink]. Like all the best things, it was born out of necessity. The need to carry on doing what they do, the need to have fun and the need to be creative. And it is strangely reassuring to find people who feel the same.
On the 4th December 2010 at our Christmas Snowball I was called up on stage and presented with my mobile, as a gift to inspire and comfort my baby and a thank you for my behind the scenes work with the band. Jenny Booth came up with the idea. She posted out the individual laser cut letters to 14 special people to decorate as they wished and then hung them together to create the mobile.
I was very moved. I blubbed. Who wouldn’t. The letters were decorated with such attention to detail with everything from intricate doodles and gold leaf, to pom pom wool and cheap scented candle wax; together they ooze with the characters of the people involved and the spirit the band exude.
Why do I tell you all this? Well, because on the Sunday 31st July we are holding a Sleep Sound Garden Party in the magical gardens of an old rectory in Mirfield, and for seven hours that garden will be jam packed with people of all ages living those four little words, and we want you to be there…
One of several creative projects we have planned for the day is to get everyone involved in creating a giant “Have Fun Make Art” mobile and a giant nappy full of poo. Of course I’m joking about the latter.
The unstoppable creative forces Malcolm Cruickshank and Rhona Mowat have been busy building 3d letters made from recycled wood, and we would love for 14 of you creative lot to volunteer to facilitate the decoration of a letter on the day. Either as individuals, or as groups.
You will be given a letter and free reign to decorate it however you see fit…. all we ask is that you involve other people on the day in the decorating bit!
We want to make an object that deserves to exist, together. An object that is beautiful, simple and impenetrable. An object that parties in the face of austerity. Nah, that’s all rubbish, we just want to lie under a giant mobile like big giggly babies and poo ourselves. (My goodness, there is lots of poo in this post isnt there!)
So, if you are even slightly interested in facilitating the decoration of one of the letters, please fill in this quick form, (Sadly this competition is now closed) or if you would rather then contact me (Ben Denison) or Jenny Booth on twitter .
Aaaaand, if you facilitate the decoration of a letter, you will also get a free pair of adult tickets for the party worth £30! (kids go free)
As the sun goes down on the garden, we will hoist the completed giant mobile from the bow of an old oak tree, and the next day, with stinking hangovers, we will take it down and re-locate it to somewhere suitable in Leeds for more people to enjoy. So if you want such a thing, or can think of someone who might, do let us know.
PS. Doesn’t Jen have lovely fingers!
PPS. Tickets for the Garden Party are selling well but still available here!