STEAMPUNK...The Kingdom of Ironfest.
I think I'm having an identity crisis.
I have always regarded myself as Aussie through and through...at least eight generations.
But recently I realised I am one quarter Canadian.
Not hard to work out as my paternal grandmother was from Newfoundland...never done the maths until now...explains why I like maple syrup.
Went to the St Ives Medieval Faire last year and was reminded of my Viking heritage.
Now I've been to Ironfest I'm wondering if Jules Verne was my grandfather.
Crossing the Blue Mountains to Lithgow...the sun setting behind Celtic crosses and angels in the graveyard...entering the Kingdom of Ironfest to catch a glimpse of setting up...a guy with long red curls and a red satin dress...the Joker joining him for my first portrait session...a dinosaur bone collector and a witch.
A Viking jeweller posing then inviting me for a drink by his tent...home made rum from a petrol can while chewing the fat with Roy the Viking, Jean the Horn Master and Genevieve the Lost...meeting a Napoleonic soldier who knew more of my Swedish history than me...evening turning to late night.
Thinking I've found my
true home...thinking I'm from another era.
Then the following day I was introduced to Steampunk.
The Society of Creative Anachronism...Not Lords & Ladies...Just Peasants?
Roy and Jean are not supposed to get on.
Roy from Canberra is a Danelaw...followers of Harold the Danish King from one of the other battles of 1066...Fulforth in York...peasant warriors and villagers...trains twice a week for 4 to 6 hours with double-handed spears and axe...been in that world for 41 years...says at 60 he is alive due to his training and lifestyle.
Jean is from St Floriens de la Riviere...a Barony of SCA in Brisbane...22 years in that world.
Jenny has been in that world for 17 years...so long now she only goes by Genevieve the Lost.
And when I found out SCA means Society of Creative Anachronism
...I wanted to join too!!!
SCA is about re-creating the pre-17th Century world...a current Middle Ages...arts, crafts, feasting...and fighting of course.
Not just dress-ups..."It's about transferring a period of time...not Lords & Ladies...just Peasants"
, says Roy.
Jean says, "The SCA are pussies...hit me with an iron bar but don't hit me with one
of those sticks...it hurts."
Some SCA have weapons of wood...but Jean's folk use metal...disdain for each other's way of life.
Strikes me their similarity is their dream of an ideal Medieval world but an avoidance of the modern world...all their friends are within their groups.
Jean sharing with emotion how his late wife was buried with full honours in the ancient way.
Roy & Jean are not supposed to get on...but how come they do?
'Cause many years ago Roy introduced Jean to the Elixir of the Gods...Mead...drinking together from warhorns ever since.
Other warriors of the night joining us as the chill of heavy dew settles in.
Fill my horn again from the petrol can thanks.
Noun: a genre of science fiction that has a Victorian era historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology.
The term itself comes from science fiction novels. It was allegedly coined by author Kevin Jeter as a way of distinguishing fellow tetro-tech sci-fi writers and him from future-loving “cyberpunks” like William Gibson. But it’s grown into a visual style...a fashion trend...a philosophy...even a way of
It’s all about mixing old and new...fusing the usability of modern technology with the design aesthetic and philosophy of the Victorian age.
For me it's the Society of Creative Anachronism's pre-17th Century...but jump to the 21st Century via the 19th Century in a time machine.
I imagine a computer that blows steam with pedals...bicycling inside a wheel rather on on two wheels...stepping out of an aeroplane as if stepping out of a zeppelin.
And at Ironfest...adherents were everywhere!
Sunglasses with metal spikes...pith helmets & top hats...khaki embossed with leather...long full skirts with ribbed corsets...lace umbrellas...Mad Max apocalyptic grunge...airship fashion ware...ipads with dialtone.
And heaps & heaps of strutting model types...all shapes and sizes...no expense spared in their finery...as if parading on a sunny Sunday afternoon...down Strand Arcade, Piccadilly or Trafalgar Square.
Lost World...The Kingdom of Ironfest
Ironfest Lithgow is an arts festival that explores the relationship between humans, metal and identity.
Held annually in the middle of April at the Lithgow Showground on the western side of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia , it brings together artists, designer-makers, blacksmiths, performers of all
kind, musicians, steampunkers, historical re-enactors, machine enthusiasts & hobbyists from all over Australia & the World.
The historical re-enactors included First World War, Second World War and modern army...Napoleonic and British army battles with musket, cannon & swords...medieval knights looking on as army tanks and armoured vehicles rolled by...falconry and archery.
Fantasy like Star Wars meets Star Trek and Dr Who in Space...Batman chatting to a Viking, a Jester and a belly dancer.
“Ironfest is the festival where Anything Goes.”
I attended with Clique Photo Club conducted by photographers from the Sydney Morning Herald for professional advice.
Denise was at the ballet with her mother and our daughter in Sydney so I was a free agent for a few days.
So I learnt a lot...hung out with some very cool dudes...but most of all entered a world of fashion, lifestyle & quirkiness that was foreign yet made me feel very much at home.
Everyone strutting their stuff was pleased to be photographed...my kind of event...no one refused my request...portrait paradise. And there
are some poignant moments:
Sitting in a performance tent watching troupes of bellydancers from around Australia when a girl did a solo...to Kalan Nege...the music by Issa Bagayogo that led me to Timbuktu in Mali, West Africa that is the subject of my first ever Travelblog.
I had tears streaming down my face...transported to a leaky boat sailing up the Niger River...to Timbuktu...dancing in the Sahara with the locals at the Festival Au Desert...on one knee kissing the hand of my true love Denise at Our Tuareg Wedding.
Now front row at Ironfest...with the oddest assortment of folk...I may be known as the Dancing One...but I suck at belly dancing!
I go to the toilet...one of those tiny brick outhouses that you find in showgrounds.
I stop at the entrance and let a Napoleonic soldier enter first...at the urinal with a plumed musketeer and a Roman Centurion...an armoured medieval knight entering the cubicle behind.
I walk out contemplating the contrast of it all...the word "Security" on a wall between two 18th Century soldiers chatting just there.
The Roman centurion tells me next time I see him he'll be John Snow. "From Game of Thrones? But you don't have a beard,"
I say. "I'm starting to grow the beard tomorrow. I've also got a wig being made."
A fellow walks out of the gents and I have to ask: "What are you?" "A Tudor Lord."
"Of course you are."
Relax & Enjoy,
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