1st Dunstable Wind Charming Day
People from Dunstable and surrounding area, legend, wind, costumes, kite.
Commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts, with the support of Arts Council England,
the National Trust and the Chilterns Conservation Board, UK.
“We used to roll oranges down the hill and run right down, but I am talking many years ago. Now you need to blow the cob webs away!”
With old traditions fading away and a community of people eager to re-connect and celebrate their surroundings, Dunstable Wind Charming Day aimed to push aside the nostalgia of the past and re-imagine a new legend, about Now and about Us.
In 2013, Laurence Payot undertook a year of community engagement with thousands of Dunstablians and a team of creatives from in and out the town to create the first Dunstable Wind Charming event, and the aspirations to make it a yearly tradition to be celebrated in years to come.
“Dunstable. Little Siberia we call it. It’s the windiest place I know of.”
Around the Town, rumours of wind charmers started to spread, as people helped shape and embody the new legend – with stories about the wind from the Downs getting lost in small paths and alleyways; about the mischievous invisible character who messes little girls’ hair but also takes lives away; and with surreal apparitions of local people dressed up as the wind.
The Wind Charmer became a character that would manifest himself within any of its city’s inhabitants. At times an old man, at others a little girl, he would secretly put on his dark cape, black and curvy like Tempest, and his shiny silvery strips, floating away and shimmering in the wind like rain in a bright sun. All summer, he would wander around the streets, collecting the lost breezes around the Town to create a Tempest on the Downs.
At the end of the summer, people would come and dance on top of the hill to tame the wild spirit, praying for its kindness over the winter months to come, and sending away their wishes in the Dunstable sky.
“To loved ones, rest in peace in the Dunstable Sky.”