Didsbury Arts Festival

Didsbury Arts festival is a volunteer led multi arts festival celebrating creative culture in Didsbury, through working with local, national and international artists. 

We are a biennial festival. The next edition will take place from 22 June - 30 June 2019. The festival theme will be Roots. If you would like to join the 2019 team, please get in touch.


CrystalKershaw byJo Kaberry


Artist Crystal Kershaw will be helping festival goers to feel the love with two linked – although strikingly different - contributions to DAF 2015.

What does it feel like to be inside a nest? An extraordinary trio of sculptural installations in the trees of the Parsonage Gardens will allow visitors to immerse themselves in a truly nurturing experience. Meanwhile, a lesson in writing love letters will leave participants with a warm, rosy glow.

‘They both seem quite different projects, but, like most of my art, they are concerned with a sense of connection; about what makes people feel safe and the use of art as therapy.’ said Crystal.

Crystal’s Love Letter workshops came out of a period of personal unhappiness when, following a relationship breakup, she found herself composing love letters to her ex-partner.

‘I didn’t allow myself to send the letters, but it did occur to me that if I found the writing process helpful, then others might as well.’

During a session, participants are encouraged to write to different recipients - exes and estranged parents are often subjects - and express their feelings. Sad, angry, grateful and even saucy (lust letters are a popular genre!), the letters are uncensored and no subject is off-limit.

‘Writing letters is a very therapeutic, cathartic and important and it helps people to connect in a way that is safe to the people and places that they love in their lives and to what they are grateful for,’ explained Crystal.

Crystal’s second festival project is rather more ambitious in scale, consisting of three large ‘nests’ positioned in the branches of three trees in the beautiful Parsonage Gardens. Varying in size, the nests will be constructed partially in situ and suspended from branches or positioned between boughs. Working with found, natural materials, including wood, straw and grasses, Crystal intends her nests to be interactive, so that visitors touching, or standing within the nest interiors will experience being in a cocooned space.

Said Crystal, who once floated a human-sized nest, made of willow and alder, on a lake in Shropshire: ‘I collect found nests and they fascinate me. So beautiful and intricate – the finesse! Gorillas make nests; all kinds of creatures make nests. I could never hope to make a nest as perfectly executed as a bird or a wasp or a bee, but every nest I make is an exploration of that feeling of what would be like to make your own little safe cocoon.’

How fitting then that despite long periods of travelling and living abroad, including time in Estonia, San Francisco, Australia and New Zealand, Crystal, herself, should still feel the pull of the family nest.

‘I live in Didsbury now and I like it because of the associations. You think about your childhood and your teenage years and the parks and the streets that your friends lived on. It’s the familiarity, I suppose.’

Love Letters Workshop, The Parsonage, Stenner Lane, Didsbury, Saturday 27 June 2015 @ 19:00 - 21:00. Booking essential (via website). 

NEST, 20 – 28 June, Parsonage Gardens, Stenner Lane, Didsbury


Feature by Deborah Grace
Image by Michael Battista