Neon has an amazing community of organisers, volunteers, and loyal followers. It appears to have grown over several years, having begun in the Brighton garden of Cameron Saul and his friend Jon Lee, the main architects and organisers of the Neon festival. It then transferred to Cameron’s family’s splendid medieval manor house, Abbots Sharpham in Street, Somerset where it has taken place for several years.
Neon events help to support the philanthropic works of the Bottletop Foundation, the spin off from the Bottletop Fashion Company, a luxury accessories brand. The Foundation empowers disadvantaged young people to take control of their lives through health education and vocational training projects which supports their wider communities. They support projects in Brazil, Africa and the UK.
To date, it has addressed drug abuse and reproductive health issues with nearly 35,000 young people worldwide. Most of the foundation’s activities are in Rio and Sao Paulo where Bottletop’s workshop is based. It is staffed by local artisans who make luxury handbags which include the iconic Bottletop design, using traditional crafting skills they learned while on the training and development programmes the Foundation has supported in the favelas.
As well as learning new skills, the women earn a fair wage and have access to private health benefits. The training programs enable skilled artisans to join them, supporting themselves and their families in the process.
Sussex came up trumps with the most perfect weekend weather. We were spoilt by the variety of entertainers, workshops, speakers and relaxing experiences. The performers included the acclaimed singer and song writer Nick Mulvey, Dele Sosimi one of the most respected and in-demand musicians on the Afrobeat scene worldwide. Also, Will Saul who has released over 150 records and his talented brother Cameron Saul, amongst others.
The regeneration speakers’ topics included Nowadays on Earth, Choose Love, and Earthrise, The wellness programme included yoga, breathwork, Tai Chi, massage, and sound healing.
The unique stage design was shared with Cameron by its Mexican designer. The garden, fields and ancient wood were transformed at night by subtle lighting arranged by Freddie Saul. The natural setting of the wood was offset by a backdrop of an extraordinary Bottletop tapestry made up of many colours. It has circumnavigated the world several times including being displayed at the UN headquarters in New York. How lucky were we to have it hung between two ancient oaks in our special Bluebell wood.
Our home and grounds were taken over by these remarkably special people, their music, culture, and kindness, and all for such a wonderful cause which Ote Hall has enthusiastically embraced.