Article by Rachael Richardson- Bullock 27.06.16
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players…”- William Shakespeare, As you Like It.
When most residents of Warwickshire think of a creative and artistic hub, most will immediately think of Stratford-upon-Avon; with its Shakespeare heritage, gorgeous scenery and no end of things to do and get involved with, it is a natural choice.
However, Leamington Spa is its unexpected rival, especially in the summer. Not only is the town delightful with its matching shop fronts and perfect flower displays, but the entire town is the background to a variety of art; whether its plays or music in Jephson Gardens or films in Foundry Wood, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
But, why is this important? Why does this make Leamington so special?
Art interacting with the landscape and visa versa is a rich and magical experience. For example, last month, Leamington Underground Cinema staged two horror films in Foundry Wood, one of which was The Blair Witch Project. Shrouded in darkness and surrounded by trees watching a film based in the woods was as immersive and interactive as artistic experiences go, and this was only achieved by using and appreciating a unique area of the town.
When you live somewhere and walk its streets day in day out, it becomes easy to forget to look around, to not notice the little details; this can be said of life too. To quote Roald Dahl “…those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” But this is where Leamington draws its residents back in, with its art and its beauty, offering the opportunity to its residents to explore and come together.
Jepson Gardens recently saw Heartbreak Productions’ The Tempest played out nearby the river, come rain or shine (makes sense for Prospero to bring about rain I suppose!) and will be back again with a production of Murder on the Terrace. Leamington plays a part here almost as much as the actors involved. Providing a fluid backdrop adds a unique element to each spectator’s experience; whether it’s the rustling of the leaves in the trees carrying the words of Shakespeare away or the smell of the flowers or the distant sound of the sensory garden there is something magical for everyone waiting to be noticed.
More than this, these events inspire the community and local authorities, such as with the rejuvenation of the Leamington Carnival taking place in July, and the investment awarded for works to the Pump Room Gardens. But it doesn’t stop there, with new sculptures cropping up in Jephson’s and Leonardo Da Vinci paying a visit to the Spa Centre, the enjoyment, the creativity and the opportunity to indulge in art is boundless.
So what’s the message of this article?
Embrace what is around you, as you may find something you weren’t expecting.
For information on events, visit Royal Leamington Spa’s website.
Rachael Richardson-Bullock is a novelist and blogger living in Leamington Spa.