Anyway, I'd missed an exhibition of lithographs of Matisse cut-outs in Newcastle to stick around in Stockton on this particular weekend, so this local 'happening' needed to be a good one, and it was. I admittedly didn't attend a huge proportion of the immense four-day events calendar, but those that I did get to were impressive enough. In fact, as the offices of my employer, Precise English are based in Green Dragon Yard, SIRF's productions provided a pretty decent soundtrack, allowing me to turn off Spotify in the office for a little while.
Described as a "street arts extravaganza", this year's running of SIRF was officially opened by Chairman of Arts Council England, Sir Peter Bazalgette, and it took little time for the carnival atmosphere to take hold - much of it just outside my office window. One highlight was an installation in the Yard itself, BEES! The Colony, where a pair of apparent beekeepers turned up and plonked half-a-dozen hives in the yard for visitors to peer in. Of course, I was so busy taking photos of the darned event that I forgot to get in the actual queue to survey what was contained within, although I'm informed of "a hilarious sting in the tail" by the accompanying brochure.
The second big highlight among the SIRF events that I actually had some direct experience of was the Trinity Fire Garden, a quite spectacular set of displays that transformed Trinity Green into... well, precisely a 'fire garden'. With ordinary residents of Teesside and various curious arty types alike milling around in the dark in and around all manner of literally fired-up contraptions flaunting the wonders of flame, it doesn't need to be said that I'll never see Trinity Green - an area that I have long regularly walked past - in quite the same way again. Central to the whole experience was a mesmeric show of light and sound in Trinity Church itself, a hollow, ruined husk of a building that I hadn't realised ever still opened to the public (railings normally keep the structure safely shielded from the arsonists who used to plague it).
Admittedly, those were my only two major experiences of SIRF '15, even if I did also catch the closing 10 minutes or so of Love Struck, a balletLORENT dance theatre production conceived specifically for the festival. It charted a story of accidental alchemy between an extroverted circus dancer and a lonely, obsessive John Walker - the man who invented the friction match in this very town. Having seen the stage under construction on the High Street in the days leading up to the several runnings of this performance, the finished result made a nice coda to Saturday's events schedule - also marking my last big encounter with this year's festival.
Roll on next year - when I'll hopefully be much better-prepared!