Art attack – Latitude’s Amy Jade Cadillac

At Latitude the art is just as integral as the bands but just who's behind the painted sheep? We caught up with Amy Jade Cadillac to talk about the visual aspect of the festival and the art plans for 2008...

Named by space rockers Hawkwind at Glastonbury, many would say that Amy Jade Cadillac has festivals in her blood. A seasoned festival fan, Cadillac has since gone on to start up Lavish, an alternative arts company which has been tasked with conceiving the visual aspect of Latitude festival.

With its emphasis on every facet of art, from music to literature to theatre, Amy and her team have been involved since the beginning and have moulded the Suffolk festival into one of the most aesthetically stunning events of its kind in the UK.

Graffiti artists in the woods, painted orchestras and even multi coloured sheep, anything goes at Latitude so be sure to keep your eyes peeled…    

VF: So what’s the idea of painting sheep various colours at a music festival?
AJC: "It all started off as a play on the Damien Hirst farmyard thing, but inspired by the place of the holy cow in Indian society. We concluded that sheep live on the Latitude site throughout the year, so they should be made a feature of the event and celebrated. The coloured sheep have been a popular and eye-catching sight since the first Latitude so they"ll definitely be back this year. It's kind of enhancing the beauty, looking at what is there in terms of the features of the land and building on it, as opposed to coming in and putting down all your stuff. It's all child-friendly paint so we're embracing the environment and the natural beauty of the place."

VF: How do the sheep take it?
AJC: "Well funnily enough, last year we painted them in four different colours and believe it our not they started to group in their own colours. That's no word of a lie. We weren't on drugs, that was true. So they don't all band up again, this year we are painting 200 of them violet. Some of our artists are going to make huge plastic letters which will be placed in their fields for the sheep to munch around. Just imagine it."

VF: So there hasn’t been any human infringement from the public so far? Sorry, but I am from Wales.
AJC: "No, they've got their own area and the public can't actually get in. It's almost like an aquarium in some sense. They are free of course, just sectioned off. They are quite hypnotic, especially because of all the colours. It's quite therapeutic I think."

VF: Did you ever think they'd become such a symbol of the festival?
AJC: "No, not at all. We thought we were onto a good idea but they became such a huge talking point they've almost become one of the most distinguishable elements to Latitude. It's been such a huge joint project, with so many people involved at Latitude, that everyone has their own input and adds something. The sheep are perhaps one of our most obvious pieces but there's much more."

VF: Like what?
AJC: "We have loads of artists working with us. There are some well-known urban artists like Inky and Zen, but also lots of underground artists. The one thing they have in common is that almost everything is done on the site. We've got a massive exhibition in the woods and we’ve brought in The Irrepressibles contemporary orchestra, who were a big hit last year."

VF: Can you tell people who haven't been to Latitude what they’re all about?
AJC: "They're an alternative orchestra and they're very theatrical with stunning outfits. They are orchestral with full, live strings and they look absolutely wonderful. Their music is quite pop orientated though so it really appeals on a mainstream level. They had a 2000-strong standing ovation last year at about 12 in the afternoon. People even had tears in their eyes."

VF: They definitely fit the festival though don’t they?

AJC: "Yes, they did some amazing performances in the woods, which involved impromptu solos and duets on acoustic instruments. It was almost like a bird song. You'd be walking through the forest and you'd hear a clarinet or a violin playing across the woods to each other. They built that up throughout the day and then in the evening they culminated on the Lake Stage with a huge performance. This year we're looking at the environment and brining the idea of dreams into the equation, trying to make it a kind of textual and visual representation."

VF: What else is new for this year?

AJC: "We have got a giant, inflatable sphere which will have a composer playing inside it. It'll be transparent so you'll be able to watch him as it rolls along the lake, floating while playing. That's going to be really amazing. It will be held on the opening night and on the first day, the Friday. The Irrepressibles are creating an array of new musical concepts throughout the event."

VF: What has been your personal highlight?

AJC: "The Irrepressibles I suppose, for me personally because it's such an unusual thing. A lot of people have not come across something like The Irrepressibles before, I mean they look like something out of Farinelli. So to me they were the definite highlight last year."

VF: What about the graffetti artists in the woods?
AJC: "Yeah, we have some urban artists and the idea with this was to take urban art and blend and make it into rural art. All the other artists are really enjoying that so that's an experiment in itself that we are trying to build on. Since starting it, we are now in our third year obviously; lots of artists are now coming to us and want to be a part of it. Every artist gets inspired – you can't help it. Melvin has been amazing with it all because he has given us quite a free reign. He has also had a lot of creative input because the art side of the festival is very important to Melvin. So we wanted to portray a very strong identity for the event."