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IMG_0084For me, a summer without Jon is like a disco without a glitter ball… a rather dour, slightly grumpy, post-modern punk glitter ball. In my first year working in the sector, I was out looking at work on the streets of Brighton – and quietly despairing at what was on offer. I’d just about had enough, as I stood watching a red letterbox on legs being pursued around Pavilion Gardens by a giant envelope attempting to post itself in the slot (that sounds a lot more fun than it actually was). I turned a corner to head towards the station and outside the Dome saw man in a filthy paint-strewn suit, with a crazy red quiff and geeky glasses. An artist – paintbrushes in hand, arms whirring in time to the music. With just the deft flicks of his brushes, flying at speed across the paper, he held an ever-growing crowd in rapt attention. They muttered to each other, trying to interpret the seeming random daubs of paint, as the image became denser and denser. It looked like an obscure piece of abstract art, full of energy but short on meaning. After two tracks of music, I still didn’t have a clue what he was painting. The song rose to a climax. And then… the reveal. Followed by the gasps, the whoops, the cheers. It all made sense now, the music, the timing, the image, it all came together. Genius. So, Jon was in my festival programme that first year, and has been a staple feature pretty much every year since. I’ve now seen the act dozens of times and although I obviously know what’s coming (and can’t believe didn’t see it a mile off the first time), I never tire of it – and hearing that joyous gasp of recognition at the end. Jon does all sorts of other clever things with toy elephants, tiger costumes and Heath Robinson-like contraptions, but I’ll always love that amazing reveal most of all; the best reveal in the business (and I’m certainly not giving it away here).

Jon Hicks website

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