Art and the Participatory Experience

Like many of us I struggled to pay attention at school, spending most lessons gazing forlornly out of the window, the pages of my textbook unable to hold my attention for more than a few moments without my eyes losing focus, my thoughts wandering off to break time and escape from the monotony of our institutionalised and deeply flawed Victorian era education system.

There were a couple of teachers who sparked interest, but never for the duration of a whole double lesson, in large part down to the medium through which they were trying to impart their wisdom – chalk on a blackboard and talking at us as we gazed out of said window.   

It’s impossible to understate the importance of interactive learning, and having had my ‘audio-kinesthetic’ learning style legitimised by a test I ironically can’t remember whilst at university, it gave me new hope that in fact I wasn’t a feckless idiot with a short attention span and zero capacity for retaining passive information; rather a discerning hands (and ears) on learner with boundless potential.

Most of you are too, by the way, so when someone brags about their first class honours degree, or for the yoot, their straight A* results at A-level, just take it with a pinch of salt. Short term memory retention does not constitute as bonafide intelligence, and I know plenty of people who got straight D’s, or even the coveted DUDE, who display far more capacity than those who helped their school creep up the league tables at the expense of their mental health and anxiety levels.  

Learning doesn’t stop when you leave school, and life is undoubtedly richer in experience and the lessons more frequently forthcoming when all your senses are stimulated. At Noisily we try to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the design and build of the festival, and the art department is one of the driving forces that makes the event so special.

All our artists are encouraged to create interactive pieces when they apply to the festival, whether it be for one of our grants or to simply join the team, and whilst we have plenty of hanging two dimensional art work, it is the pieces that require your input as a guest which steal the show each year.

© Photography by Jake Davis (

From giant wooden eggs and oscillating coral reefs, to multiway mirror rooms and light activating xylophones seven feet high, these interactive experiences are proven to sharpen your reaction times, enhance your critical thinking capabilities, and are fundamental to the development of analytical reasoning. They even help to stave off the degeneration of your memory in the long term, even if you can’t remember where you were five minutes before in Coney Woods…

© Photography by Jake Davis (

Over the coming weeks and months, Director of Art Ruth and her right hand woman Lizy will be corralling and compiling a collection of artists and creatives to transform the Noisily woods for our eighth birthday party in July this year.

If you are a budding artist and want to get involved at Noisily, our art applications are open until January 14th, so get cracking and visit our Get Involved Page here.

See you in the woods!

Charles and the Noisily Team xxx