The John Hughes Arts Festival

Astrid Godfrey 21 November 2018

The question of how to remember someone who is dear to a community is one fraught with difficulties. What is appropriate? Is what we can do ever enough?

The John Hughes Arts Festival (JHAF), now in its fifth year, was founded by a group of Jesus College Students in the hope that it would honour the memory of the Rev’d John Hughes. John Hughes was an undergraduate theologian and later a well-loved Chaplain and Dean of Chapel heavily involved in college life. Beyond college, John was important to those in Exeter where he was a curate, in Westcott House, Emmanuel and Merton College, Oxford, in Little St. Mary’s, the Faculty of Divinity, and in the Diocese of Ely. His life was taken tragically early in a car accident. He was just 35.

The festival formed after an email was sent inviting undergraduates of Jesus College to suggest ways to remember John, a beloved member of college. It has since become an inter-disciplinary annual arts festival celebrating the spirit of openness and collaboration many associate with John. A gallery formed of student submissions provides a glorious backdrop to the talks, events, and activities that run during the festival. Music, painting, sculpture, photography, and even Lego last year provides a panoply of artistic ventures all in memory of a much-missed part of College. The theme for the festival changes annually – this year the festival pivots around the ideas of Reflection as we enter the five-year anniversary of the festival. We are asked to look at what the festival has achieved, where its potential lies for the future. This year the festival is running for five days instead of three, a testament to its increasing popularity. There is a wide variety of activities available for all members of the Cambridge community to participate in, whether you are artistic or have never drawn more than a doodle.

In the words of Sam Fairbrother, JHAF’s Co-Founder:

“The festival, here’s hoping, keeps its communal and at times rather motley atmosphere as a testament to John’s understanding of a chapel’s mission. Just over there, quietly labouring away, keeping and measuring time, for those who want it, whenever they need, and for whatever need that might be. Unassuming but bustling around with little tasks for everyone, in ways that don’t seem to have any obvious outcome. In the moment.”

Submissions for this year’s festival open on the 20th November so get creative over Christmas and send in your work for a chance to be displayed in JHAF’s gallery! Like the Facebook page to stay updated with when events are happening.