• Phoebe Gardner

KALLIDA: a captivating collision of art and music

Inside the immersive festival that’s changing the game.

We weren’t sure what to expect when we first arrived at KALLIDA, located at the idyllic Sparkford Hall in Somerset. It’s one of the first festivals to not only push visual art installations as the key aspect to the event, but also pay equal attention to the artists and musicians, whilst also being held inside an 18th-century manor and its grounds… It didn’t take long to realise KALLIDA had hit the nail on the head: a new class of festival had been born, where art and music became one.

The stately home was transformed into a magical immersive playground, where every corner there was something new to greet us. With only 400 tickets available KALLIDA was an intimate affair made better by each installation designed to be a shared experience, exploring the site felt like a massive, giddy adventure.

KALLIDA had taken place at Baskerville Hall in Hereford for the previous two years, one of the festival’s main attractions to the move down South was the barn.  Converted into an innovative exhibition space by using hay bales as walls and dividers, it featured pioneering artists’ work merging architecture, engineering and light to create interactive works that incorporated the latest glitch and digital art. There was even a cinema showcasing the new generation of filmmakers snuggled away at the back.

Out and about on the idyllic grounds were Suzie Olczak’s Orrey kinetic sculptures which were transformed into chill spots, one of these wooden hexagonal bubbles was taken over by Typething Collective. Inside the sculpture lights hung from the ceiling with wafts of smoke and bubbles cascading from the glass lampshades. People were encouraged to use a small piano on the floor and attempt to play the song on a sheet of paper, when the right notes were played the lights flashed to piano chords while a beat was played from a speaker – rather reminiscent of the organ scene from The Goonies, but when you played a wrong note the music stopped, not the ground falling beneath your feet.

Interestingly, KALLIDA based the art and music on the cycle of the sun: day to night was a metaphor for the mood of the crowd, music and art – it was genius, everything and one was on the same page. As night fell the festival transitioned from the main stage outside, which played a mixture of jazz, reggae and world music to inside the hall, where the walls echoed with heavier, industrial beats of electro, techno, old skool jungle and happy hardcore.

From the pounding basement where DJs played in a caged booth, to the coach house turned dance floor, every music endeavour at the festival was made with artistic potential in mind. The basement was a bar, two dance floor areas separated by the DJ booth and the sultry Love Hotel by Fiona Albrow, KALLIDA art director. Love Hotel was an incorporation of a four-poster double bed, a dildo hanging from the ceiling and disturbing virtual companions of Kate Davis, safe to say it got pretty weird in there as the night went on.

Upstairs contained Izzy Bolt’s pink, shiny dream world, a room lined with reflective pink wallpaper, disco balls and cushions, as well as Clemence Debaig’s computational work which played with our physical bodies within virtual spaces. Eyesymetric and Visua UK took over the main stages with their creative lenses while George Mein transformed the new music space, the Coach House, with lights dripping down from the ceiling, each individual light changed colour to the beat of the tracks played.

In one weekend KALLIDA successfully created a community, a festival like no other, and the biggest house party you’ll ever go too. Prioritising the creative experience over commercial profit, the event blurred the line between art and music, creating a whole new approach to enjoy culture. Is KALLIDA a glimpse into the future of festivals? We sure hope so.

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