Reviewed: On The Pebbles

On a grey Saturday in a St Andrews November, I faced the elements to experience On the Rocks’ new venture, On The Pebbles. The student-run arts festival had wished to expand their presence beyond their ten day festival in April. Thus, On The Pebbles was born. It was a fusion of St Andrews University’s creative elements and talents in a new, interesting and extremely enjoyable way.

The festival was sprinkled across the town at various locations which, given the horrible weather, may have been off-putting if your intention was to try and see everything. What worked particularly well was the immersive aspect of some of the performances. These included an A Capella appearance from The Bells which was really beautiful, found at one point in Topping and Co. Bookshop.

Wandering around the town, I felt that On The Rocks made extremely good use of some of the town’s best loved venues, such as Brew Co., who hosted a mini art exhibition with drawing and photography pieces. Here, there was a sense that On The Pebbles wasn’t trying too hard, effortlessly quite cool, as these pieces were admired by crowds of friends in the pub whilst enjoying a mulled cider and sheltering from the climate. Whether they had intentionally come for On The Pebbles was almost irrelevant. It was a synthesis of art and everyday which produced a pleasing result.

Also at Brew Co, later in the afternoon, was a highly anticipated event – One Pound Poems with Inklight, the Creative Writing Club in St Andrews. For the cost of £1 you could receive a personalized poem; another innovative and fun activity incorporated into the On The Pebbles Festival.

Furthermore, venues such as the Community Library were used for really great activities such as Rock Painting, with On The Rocks Festival Designer, Hannah Longworth. Integrating the symbol of the festival, this was a clever use of venue and a fun idea for a study-break on a Sunday.

Other events which were particularly enjoyable included the Historytelling event, with Blind Mirth and the Art History Society at the Preservation Trust Museum. Thoroughly entertaining, this was an unconventional use of another one of the town’s less frequented destinations for students.

The evening events were a culmination of a day of interactive and immersive exhibitions and activities. Music is Love, held at Aikmans, was, as usual, enjoyed by all who attended.  As was the Stand Up event from the Comedy Society in Sandy’s Bar. Both were a clever way of using well-loved St Andrews’ events within the mini-festival.

Overall, although widespread across the town and enshrouded in drizzle, On The Pebbles was a pleasant surprise in November, certainly a much needed break from the books. The almost casual nature of events never threatened the professionalism and scope for entertainment. Importantly, it allowed a worthy opportunity to display the university’s endless pool of talent. We are now thoroughly looking forward to attending the main event of On The Rocks, their 10 Day Festival, next semester.

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