Events Projects

Uncivilisation Festival (2010-14)

During the early years of Dark Mountain, we ran an annual three-day festival with writers, makers and performers who had been drawn to the project.

We didn’t set out to start a festival, a festival happened to us. From those who came to it, we learned more about what Dark Mountain might be and what it might mean than we could ever have done at our desks.

from A Farewell to Uncivilisation

In the months after we published the Dark Mountain Manifesto, responses arrived from many directions. Among them was an invitation from a man called Michael Hughes to curate a festival at a venue in Llangollen – and so, before we’d even got our first issue off the press, we were juggling editorial and publishing responsibilities with learning how to organise a festival.

Uncivilisation ran for four years and became the gathering point around which many of those who became firm friends and lasting collaborators met for the first time. I remember Charlotte Du Cann interviewing me for the Independent on the final afternoon of the 2011 festival; soon afterwards, she stepped into the team which curated the following year’s event, and by the end of the decade, she would be co-director of Dark Mountain.

In one of the photographs in the collage below, you can make out Anna and me attempting to pin up a banner on the fence opposite the entrance to the Sustainability Centre in Hampshire, which became our venue from 2011 onwards. This was a fortnight after the two of us first met, so you could say she was thrown in the deep end.

It felt good to have created it—and it feels good now to have brought it to an end. After all, there are reasons why no one tries to start a publishing operation and an annual festival as part of the same small new non-profit business in the same year.

We brought Uncivilisation to an end in 2013 for all those reasons, but its absence was mourned, and its spirit lives on in the many larger and smaller Dark Mountain gatherings that have taken place in the years since.