September 30th – The Festival of the Brightened Path

Sometimes galleries are the best space to appreciate artwork; they lend a certain prestige, and encourage viewers to reflect on and consider that which they might not normally see the beauty in. Sometimes, they are a compromise, far from perfect but a good tool for exposure. Yet sometimes, glass cabinets and bright white spaces aren’t the best way to present certain pieces of art, and sometimes even a roof seems to ruin things somewhat. One group of people that seem to truly understand this are The Artists of the Bright Path, who will tonight exhibit their artworks in Deep Hall forest, a wooded valley that rests on the southern edge of Ceaen Moor.

In the daytime the wood is a popular spot for walkers, with its ancient oak trees and steep-sided valley spotted with frequent rocky escarpments. A small stream trickles down the centre of the wood, and there are many well-worn paths that snake their way around it, passing through holloways and occasionally crossing via fallen trees and a small selection of stepping stones. There is a little stone hut somewhere in amongst the tall trees and the thick undergrowth and deep-carved paths, though it is long deserted, its old wooden roof given over to fertilise the ground. In the late winter and spring, wild garlic and bluebells carpet the areas not normally covered by undergrowth, but at this time of year they are long gone, replaced today with many other beautiful sights.

The precise path varies each year, but generally it follows the river on one side and then the other, making a circuitous route through the night time forest. It jumps between the many ways laid down by generations of humans and the small deer and other woodland creatures that live there, but unlike these criss-crossings it is easy to follow; on either side of the Brightened Path many hundreds of small candles are lit and laid, replaced throughout the night as they burn out by figures waiting in black clothes just out of sight. Every few metres or so there are lanterns too, in case the small candles are blown or rained out.

As you can probably imagine, the effect is quite magical; the usual fears of a woodland at night evaporate as the eye cannot see beyond the flames into the darkness; there are no branches swaying in the moonlight on the edge of vision, and few birds are startled as you approach, having already been scared away by the light. At most there will be the hoot of a curious owl or two, or the swift, soft flapping of bats catching the attracted moths. Quite alike to an art gallery, this Brightened Path implies there is something to be found along it, something worth your time and attention, but it has some more novelty to it as well.

What you can see, beyond the Path, are the artworks. Some are made of candles or fire themselves, rotating and slowly lighting their surroundings in languid passes. Others are odd configurations of neon lights, flickering, or statues that look different as lights turn on and off around them. Some stretch into the treeline, only revealing themselves in chunks as you walk onwards, a parallaxed illumination. Sometimes there are lights which merely highlight some coagulation of roots, or another piece of the landscape that deserves attention; an arch of trees, perhaps, or a place where the stream falls and froths. Some pieces draw your eyes into the treetops with staggered, snaking concatenations of fairy lights, where illuminated orange tents hang upside-down.

Who knows what fresh delights await you this year; the pieces described here are only a taste of the full range which has graced the wood, which still holds its foliage, refusing to relinquish it at least until the three day exhibition is over. If you are interested in visiting tonight or any of the following two days, buses leave from Treoali Point at 7:00 tonight, returning on the hour until 1am.Visitors are reminded to please stick to the Brightened Path.

Other festivals happening today:

  • The Festival of Unhappy Lost Puppies
  • The Dragging Out Festival
  • Kiss of Life Day