The Blessing of the Beasts

Photograph by Phil Miller

Words by Hélène Williams

Photographs by Tim Topple & Phil Miller

Organisation by Sadie Hennessy

It was Sunday August 1st 2021, after the rain, that a curious procession could be seen ambling its way along Whitstable beach.

This was the Blessing of the Beasts, a community event celebrating our companion animals that stayed with us throughout the pandemic.

There were critters of all shapes and sizes: mutts, fluffy ones, scaly ones, fine feathered fellows… and that was just the human species.

We had a hamster in a cage, a guinea pig in a basket and dogs that howled, squeaked and yapped in accompaniment to Whitstable’s finest, the Native Oysters Band. Performers emerged from illuminated beach huts: Elvis with his hound dog, Dogtor Feelgood, leopard-skinned belly-dancers, cat songs, budgie songs, shamanic bird-headed Lunatraktors, Henry Dagg squeezing out songs from fluffy toy cats and, to top it all, a fancy-dress parade along the promontory, followed by the pet disco.

“A fancy-dress parade along the promontoryPhotograph by Phil Miller.

The blessing of the beasts was enacted by bovine performance artist Hélène Williams, udders and all, sprinkling the sacred excretions from our fine finned friends upon a luminescent boat grotto covered with animal photos and messages of love.

Thanks to Sadie Hennessy for the creation and bringing together of the local community for this event, for all the performers, pets, audience, and support from Farnham Maltings and the Arts Council.

Sadie Hennessy says: “I responded to an open call from Farnham Maltings looking for artists to create an event that would bring their local community together after everything we’ve been through during the pandemic. I noticed what an important role our companion animals were playing to help us all through lockdown, especially dog walking, so I devised The Blessing of the Beasts as a thank you to them. It got commissioned so the whole extravaganza was funded. I’m hoping to make it an annual fixture on Whitstable’s cultural calendar – funding permitting of course.”

The Blessing of the Beasts 2022:

The next Blessing of the Beasts will be on the 10th September 2022, at 6pm, meeting at the Tennis Courts, and will be led by Jack Crow, Psychopomp of the Alongside.

Photographs by Tim Topple:

Click on images for a full-sized version

Photographs by Phil Miller:

About Hélène Williams:

Photo: Lalo Borja

Hélène investigates nature through her practise as an artist, psychotherapist  and mystic. She takes us into an imaginal world where tales unfold and we are abandoned to the unknown.

Mysterious performances, paintings of visions, and sculptures that ‘have sexual energy, fragility and strength that can be thrillingly confusing.’ – Jan Woolf/journalist

Internationally exhibited in India, Mexico, France, Holland and the UK. Reviewed in The Times, The Independent, Time Out, The Hindu Times and The Kentish Gazette.

About Sadie Hennessy:

You can find more of Sadie Hennessey’s work here:

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