Port Eliot Festival 2010

Leigh Johnson's Hazy, Summery Portrait of Laid-back Literati Glamour in Cornwall

The Port Eliot Festival is the only event where, in the same, picturesque setting, it is possible to find Anna Sui gluing glittered butterflies to costumes, Talvin Singh backing Geoff Dyer on a tabla, and hordes of children listening, rapt, in the “House of Fairy Tales” that was founded in 2006 by artists Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis. “Walking around was surreal—magical worlds lit by strings of fairy lights unfolded in every direction,” recalls photographer Leigh Johnson, who headed off to Cornwall last weekend to capture the intimate intellectual bacchanalia. Set in the impossibly beautiful grounds of the seat of the Earl of St Germans, overlooking the Lynher Estuary, Port Eliot was launched in 2003 as a literary event and has since expanded to include music, fashion, art and cooking. This year's attendees enjoyed tent-side tailoring sessions with specially made paper outfits by Luella Bartley, Biba’s Barbara Hulanicki and legendary milliner Stephen Jones; luxury leather brand Hermès also made an appearance in a tricked-out horsebox distributing golden equine-shaped balloons to children. Gourmands could nab tips from the River Cottage’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or Daniel de la Falaise before retreating to the walled garden to indulge in local oysters and Zubrowka cocktails. Among the musical acts were Harper Simon, Jakob Dylan and Alabama 3 (strumming anarchic country tunes), while Jarvis Cocker lured people to the dance floor with his DJ set as night descended. Johnson’s favorite moments? “Edward Fox reciting TS Eliot’s The Wasteland in the beautiful ‘round’ room was definitely a highlight, as was the performance by a group of buskers playing traditional Irish and Gypsy music that I bumped into en route to the vodka cocktail bar.”

Mix your own Port Eliot cocktail with today's recipes from Zubrowka >>
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