Aug 312012

The nation’s smallest and friendliest festival, Standon Calling, asked me to paint some of the walls as part of their décor team.


Standon Calling is held on the grounds of Standon Lordship near the heart of Hertfordshire, farmland and gardens transform into a festival for over 5000 people.

I made sure that I understood the surfaces intimately before I began working on sketches. There were lots of removals taking place a few weeks before, in the place I was going to paint, so I lent a hand. The theme for this years festival was ‘Journey to the ends of the world’, or to be more precise – Phileas Fogg in an exclusive, outdoor members bar. There were 2 areas for me to paint – the seating area by the ‘cow shed’ and the huge backdrop for the main stage, this required two slightly different design approaches.

The seating area was a good 20 metres of differing wall surface behind seats & the flame retardant calico backdrop measured 10m x 6m high. The vibe for the seating area was to make the visitors feel like they were in an overgrown, giant garden, whilst the backdrop was to be a more literal translation of the Phileas Fogg vibe.

Seating Area

The whole area was primed in a middle green (a so-called dirty mint) as this section had to be painted pretty quickly. It was a massive section where people could seek shelter (weather pending) or to rest between dancing. To recreate a garden feeling, I chose to paint enlarged leaf designs, with a little light breaking through them, interspersed with bumble-bees carrying a sound system towards a glade full of pollen-gifting flowers.


This backdrop was so huge it had to be painted on the floor, in my socks. It took two very late shifts lasting 14 hours each. The colours were painting onto bare fabric, so every stroke would have to be definite, in effect dying the fabric. There was no way I could get the fabric back to white as it was unprimed to assist shelf-life and to prevent any cracking when rolled up. The pressure was certainly on.

The idea was fairly simple – three aeroplanes, three balloons & one boat circumnavigating a globe, surrounded by clouds and the stars. One of the aeroplanes would be so close you could see the pilot (maybe Phileas himself)

The only crucial problem became apparent when the cloth was raised into position, it was not raised as high as initially thought, so the bottom half was invisible to the audience.

The following photographs are distorted from fisheye photographs, so they look very blurred around the edge, apologies for this, but something this large is very hard to photograph flat – you’d need to hover about 5 metres above it to get it done properly. Gives you an idea of the scale of the work though (in the photograph my feet are in scale, whereas my body is exaggerated).


A section in 360°

Click the image below to activate the panorama.

Custom shoes

After I sprayed some flames on a volunteers wellies during the setting up (no photos – sorry), everyone was asking me to do theirs too. Three pairs were seen kicking about, 2 in Standon – 1 in Bristol: