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Creating Visual Music

Posted in This months highlight on 07 Aug 2023

With the festival season very much underway, we wanted to highlight the records of a local business and individual, both of which transformed the festival scene like no other.

Last November, we received the papers of Tim Peter Carroll (1959-2010) of Reading (ref. D/EX2922), otherwise affectionally known as ‘Temple Tim’. The papers include many of his ventures including ‘On The Case’ Organic Wine Club and !Caramba!’ a Reading Arts charity and organiser of Latin-American dance themed nights. It is clear he was passionate about the diversity of cultural expression, music and letting loose and having a good time!

The success of Tim’s projects varied but arguably one of his most successful creative efforts was Temple Décor Ltd, a former Reading company, that specialised in transforming any venue using drapes, three dimensional furnishings and ultraviolet lighting.

The company was founded in 1994 and catered for a range of events from corporate functions to festivals as well as offering permanent installations. 

Leaflet for Temple Décor Ltd reads: Décor Installations for Festivals & Events' with image of a festival tent with drapes

Early examples of what Temple Décor could achieve were witnessed at Temple Ball’s dance nights. According to the minutes (ref. D/EX2922acc11032.5), Tim and other members of the committee team were responsible for the fantastic environment. Blah Blah magazine described the first Temple Ball in 1995 as a 

‘kaleidascopic wonderland throughout the smoke’.

Amongst the papers we can see some of the spectacular examples of work produced by the company (ref. D/EX2922acc11032.6).

Colour photograph of a corporate party with drapes painted with ultraviolet paint on the ceiling

The style was very indicative of its time when installations of this scale were not created using technology, like we see today, but through hours of physical work. Temple Décor’s decorations have been compared to Angus Watt’s flags, the iconic symbols of Glastonbury Festival.

The most famous example of Temple Décor work, which lives on in many individual’s summer memories, were those created for WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance) Festival in the 1990s which was based at the Rivermead Centre, Reading, prior to it moving its current location in Charlton Park, Wiltshire in 2006.

In 1998, the Siam Tent, one of the music stages, hung drapes more than 70 meters high to emulate a temple and was decorated with suspended spinning hoops more than 10ft in diameter. The hoops designs were painted with ultraviolet paint, with the whole tent illuminated by ultraviolet lighting.

Colour photograph of a festival tent with drapes and large dreamcatchers hanging from the ceiling

According to the Reading Evening Post, 26 June 1998, the organisers of WOMAD were one of the early backers which helped promote the business and within four years, the company grew, employing 10 local artists, doubling the number of staff during the peak summer period.

Temple Décor’s work was by no means limited to the local scene. It has been argued that they dressed the first full moon parties in Koh Phangan, Thailand.

Tim passed away in 2010 just after his 51st birthday. Online, the absence of Temple Décor is felt, and recollections of dancing under their giant dreamcatchers are recalled on social media posts which pay tribute to Tim. In 2011 Planet Gold Decor and Full Effex paid homage to Temple Décor by recreating their distinct style at WOMAD once more.

According to some social media posts, the company’s décor was either sold or given away after his passing and its current whereabouts are unknown making this accession even more valuable as a lasting memory of such a big character in Reading and beyond.

If you know of any records relating to Berkshire entrepreneurs, please get in contact as this is a type of record we would like to collect more of.