This weekend saw the launch of the Pop-Up Festival in London’s Coram’s Fields – a brand new festival of stories, aimed at children and young people of all ages. The festival is actually the grand finale of several weeks of events which link schools and academies in the London boroughs of Camden and Islington with top name illustrators and authors, including Anthony Browne, Emma Dodd, Alex T Smith and Jamila Gavin.
The artists work with classes on tailor-made projects, making stories in all sorts of forms, from poetry to sculpture. It is a fantastically effective way of getting a huge number of (around 3000) children interested in and inspired by both reading and writing – especially those for whom stories and reading is not an integral part of their home lives.
On Saturday and Sunday the festival was opened to the public (the organisers estimate that they had 6000 visitors) and it didn’t disappoint. Five gigantic tents offered a delectable and exciting range of events for every age and taste, from Peter Rabbit, Spot and Rastamouse to performance poets and stars from dub step and hip hop. Like two Victorian ringmasters, Michael Rosen and Philip Ardagh each curated a tent, and our own Axel Scheffler drew Pip and Posy for a packed audience and then signed copies of the books for nearly two hours.
For those of us that attended, there was a real feeling that Pop up lived up to its name – it was refreshing and rich, and burst confidently onto the festival scene. Look out for it next year, when it increases the number of schools involved and links up with Central St Martins on its new site at Kings Cross.