THE FIRST ever arts festival in Princetown aims to showcase the variety of artistic skills on Dartmoor.

Local artists will bring their wealth of talents, in paint, clay, stone, wood, iron, glass, thread, yarn, words, photographs, and paper.

The event will be staged from Friday, August 18, to Sunday, August 20, across multiple venues in the village,

Exhibitors include woodworkers, blacksmiths, sculptors, weavers, jewellers, poets, textile artists, potters and printers

Poetry readings will take place in the library while musical entertainment will be provided by an unaccompanied group and sea shanty performers including Raise the Roof, Norfolk & Good and the Elderberries.

The festival’s breadth is illustrated by the Two Bridges Hotel which is hosting a cream tea dance on Friday, from 4pm, with live music from the Fine Whines vintage jazz band (includes a cream tea with every ticket).

A contemporary dance performance will also be given by Jonny Hibbs on the same evening.

On Sunday the Loveny Male Voice Choir, from St Neots, will perform at the Church of St Michael and All Angels from 4pm to 5.30pm.

Organisers Nick Bennett and Suzie Bastable are both sculptors in Princetown.

Nick said: “This is the first arts festival in Princetown and will celebrate the wealth and breadth of artistic talent in the area.

“There will be 40 artists from many media on show at different venues, including the church, cafes, community centre, Methodist chapel and hotels.

“Princetown has been crying out for something like this for a long time. There’s places like Totnes and Bovey Tracey which are on the map for their arts and culture — now it’s Princetown’s time. We hope this is just the first of an annual festival, once it’s established.”

He said the village already had a strong artistic base: “There are already displays of artworks at the Fox Tor Cafe, Old Police House Cafe and mine at the outdoor equipment at BaseCamp. But we want to expand this.

“It’s going to be an exciting three days which should appeal to families on holiday who are looking for something different and for anyone curious about what the moor has to offer.”

Nick exhibits his animal-themed sculptures, as artist-in-residence at the Princetown BaseCamp outdoor shop, the home of Ice Warrior environmental expeditions run by Jim and Sam McNeill. He includes climate change aspects in his art, echoing that of the missions of the expeditions to collect evidence of changes in the ocean and ice which point to the impact on senstitive unspoilt sea and landscapes.

He said: “I feel very strongly about the threat of climate change to our environment. I have a strong affinity to Dartmoor. The Ice Warriors expedition team is heading to the furthest northern pole at the top of the world — or the centre for you flat-earthers!”

He has created a sculpture chracter explorers on Jim’s expeditions who are all amateurs or citizen scientists, trained on Dartmoor and Norway for data collecting in harsh conditions.

Nick said of the sculpture: “Some artistic licence has been taken in that his clothing is not exactly the state-of-the-art gear that the team will be wearing. He is holding a stethoscope to the ice and this depicts that fact that these brave young men and women will walk 800 miles beyond the tippity top of Canada (beyond Svalbard in Norway), each of them pulling their gear on a sled in order to collect real data on the state of our planet. NASA and other agencies are keenly awaiting results as this data is unique and will be extremely telling for scientists across the world. The expedition will be unique as there is no documentation, old or recent, of any man reaching that most barren of outposts at the ‘Pole of Innaccessibility’.”

He has been in Princetown for three years as an artist, having previously worked as a senior IT programme director for Sky TV in London: “It was almost by accident I’m here. I planned to move to Cornwall. But it was the best move I could have made. I love it here. Princetown and the moor have the most amazing environment, both architecturally and naturally, which inspires so many artists like me. Artists are having an especially hard time at the moment because of all the added rising costs everyone has to face. A piece of art is always going to be a luxury, but in the current economic environment we completely understand why people are not buying art — it’s a nice to have, but does not feed the children or heat the house.

“It’s therefore, even more important that us artists have an outlet to reach out far and wide to a potential customer base. There’s got to be a new market out here on Dartmoor. If people do have the money and desire to enrich their lives through art, then they seem to want quality and sustainable pieces and feel strongly they want to support local artists.”

He also covers the legend of Kitty Jay, a victim of a cruel Dartmoor landowner, and has created work inspired by the cattle, based on several herds of cattle bred from the iconic Highland cows on Dartmoor: “They look soft and cuddly like two-ton teddy bears and their calves are the most beautiful.”