Robbie is an interesting being. From what he’s told me, he was a Yuppie in the ‘80s. When the crash came, he got out and went travelling. He spent ten years travelling the world and going to festivals all over, especially the eclipse parties. In many parts of the world where a total eclipse of the Sun was to occur, invariably, there would be a festival organised. At some point, in Nepal, he had carried a girlfriend’s rucksack with his own as she was unable, which resulted in serious damage to his hips. The seriousness of the injury didn’t manifest until later in life. He became a virtual invalid, struggling to walk and needing help with particularly socks and shoes. More recently, he has had major surgery and is now running around revitalised.
Robbie’s amazing wife is Monnie. They met in San Francisco. Eventually, they returned to Germany, where Monika finished her studies. She is now a rocket scientist! She works on all sorts of space technology. To help to make ends meet while Monika was studying, they set up a little chai tea stall at festivals. At some point, it had been suggested that Robbie should paint some hangings to decorate their stall. Robbie complained that he couldn’t paint, but decided to have a go. He discovered at the age of 39 that he could indeed paint. In fact, so much so that he is arguably one of the best in his field. His work is amazing. If you have not had the experience, I highly recommend that you have a look at his website (www.psychedelic-art.com) and look out for where we are appearing so as to appreciate his creativity as it should be experienced.
Matt is great, too. He’s really on the ball. He’s had a lot of challenges in his life. More recently, he was given a beautiful patch of land in Somerset. (More of that to come). Together, sometimes with a little extra help, we became a little family touring about appearing at various festivals. Soon, the little gallery grew. Now, a much larger marquee is provided by Martin, an extrovert with gallons of energy who we met at a festival somewhere.
Setting up is always a laid-back affair. It is never unusual to not get around to opening the gallery until late. But then, it never matters because the gallery is a night-time experience.
We did a lot of festivals, too many to mention here. We even put on a show at a nightclub in Stroud, once. Some of the festivals I’ve already told you about here and there, some I’ll tell you about another time and here are a couple of favourite memories....
One of the best festivals that we did regularly was something called Alchemy Festival. The festival became very popular very quickly. It was, for the gallery, always very busy. Sometimes to the point of people having to queue up outside to get in! At one such party, at some point during proceedings, I got up saying that I was off to go for a pee. When I got back, Robbie and co were laughing their heads off at me.
“What’s up? Why are you all laughing? What’s so funny?” I asked.
Eventually, Robbie explained that after saying that I was off for a pee, I had not got far. In fact, I had got chatting to some people just in front of the counter. I eventually moved onto the people sitting nearby. I moved around the entire marquee just chatting to people until I had again reached the counter some four hours later! I hadn’t left the marquee in all that time. It was then that I remembered that I needed a pee!
‘Big Steve, little Steve’ was funny, too. It was a Sunrise Festival. In the field a giant man had been constructed, which Robbie christened Steve, due to the large beard and the fact that the giant man carried a staff. For a giggle, Robbie started a rumour. He told people that the man was an effigy of me. He said that I was the organiser of the festival, but didn’t want anyone to know. However, he said that I had insisted on the effigy! It spread like wildfire! I don’t think anyone expected the rumour to become so hot. Before long, we were told of how the rumour had reached the real organisers and rather than quash it, thought that it was funny and so merely added fuel to the fire.