One of the events that I’ve taken to my heart since moving to my new home city 4 years ago is Bristol’s annual celebration of creative rebellion and freedom, our festival of street art known as Upfest. Unfortunately this year I wasn’t able to sample the live temporary work due to other commitments but last week, on one of my regular evening walks, I ventured through the streets of Southville and Bedminster to find all the new permanent exhibits. Here is what I found:
As you may remember from my previous post, I completed 62/70 of the Shaun in the City trail leaving only the Shauns scattered around the outskirts of Bristol. This weekend, courtesy of my trusty bicycle, the trail was completed in full. Please enjoy the remainder of our pimped out sheep sculptures with a few special additions from the school children of the city:
Yesterday was a beautiful day. Very little wind, moderately overcast at times but mostly patchy blue skies with average temperatures of about 20 degrees, lovely! It’s days like these where it seems a terrible waste to be cooped up inside, especially without the enthralling spectacle of the weather interrupted Open Championship golf to keep you glued to the TV (although i’m quite aware i’m alone in this). The day therefore seemed well set-up for one of my grand hikes and it just so happened that, this summer, those zany people at Aardman animations had provided a few colourful little walking routes in the form of there Shaun The Sheep charity trails. 70 large sculptures parked all across the city, each specially designed by various artists, designers and celebrities, providing colourful guideposts for there trails. 8 Shauns were spread around the outskirts, forming the ‘sheep drive’ trail and requiring a vehicle to get between them, and the remaining 62 were distributed centrally, split into 8 distinct family friendly trails ranging from 2 to 7 km in length and showcasing some of bristols finest city landmarks and attractions. With Bristol awash with the cultural vibrancy of its annual harbour festival this weekend and the weather conditions proving very favourable, the city centre, although rammed to the point of complete standstill, proved a very jovial place to be. With such festivities to be enjoyed, you would have thought a 5km trail around the harbour, finding maybe 10 sculptures, before joining the masses for some live, local music and an afternoon snack from one of the endless array of street food stalls sampling probably every conceivable cuisine from around the world would be sufficient, but, as you know, that’s not really my style. I find my fun in challenges so if one trail isn’t gonna cut it, how about all 8! 9 sun baked hours and 20 something undulating miles later, here’s the proof of my days work. Clearly I have way too much time on my hands. Enjoy some of Bristols artistry at its wacky best and pick your favourite! p.s. Not my names!
Magic in its fictional form has delighted child and adult alike since the beginning of time – myself included. The non fictional form that we see on our streets and on tv through magicians like dynamo and troy however has always had pretty variable intrigue for me. There are certain tricks that really draw you in and leave you puzzled and enchanted for hours afterwards. Or there are classic simple tricks that put a big smile on your face. However there are also others that leave you either highly underwhelmed or uncomfortably deceived. This is a feeling I certainly have for certain unnamed tv based magicians that i’m sure exercise a little cheap tv trickery or use actors to create a feeling of amazement. I don’t trust them – not that I’d trust a street magician either if I came across one, seems like a fantastic way to have something stolen – though, while I think about it, i’m not sure i’d trust anyone who spoke to me on the street for that matter – I may have a trust problem! Anyway… There’s also the fact that a good magician must be a natural performer and that’s not really me so I can’t say that I’ve spent much time with magic over the years. But a challenge is a challenge and new things must be tried and discovering how tricks are done is at least fairly interesting so I ventured onto the web and have found myself a simple trick that, as was a condition for this challenge, I shall keep a secret to be unveiled at a moment when the world least expects it. Be afraid – Mwahahaha – Sorry! Why not give it a go yourself. Seems like something nice to have up your sleeve (or behind your ear or wherever pro magicians keep there props), maybe for a kids birthday party or social gathering that’s losing a bit of pace. It may turn out to be your thing – though it appears it isn’t mine!
Challenge eight complete!
I don’t remember much about secondary school P.E. Gymnastics but one thing I do remember is having a go at a gate vault. You tend not to forget having to fling yourself head over heels high above the sports hall floor with only a thin mat to comfort your descent. For those who don’t know, the gate vault is a staple skill of any parkour enthusiast where you position one hand (and if you feel more comfortable doing so, your abdomen) on top of an obstacle like a wall, fence or gate, pivot forwards placing your other hand on a lower part the obstacle to support your forward momentum and flip over the obstacle. The video of how its done can be found below. The skill in itself is actually very simple being similar a cartwheel and great fun once you get used to the idea of throwing yourself upside down. The main issue I found was finding an appropriate gate. When walking around looking for spots, you soon realise how few simple metal fences there are left in our society. We’ve either gone very security conscious with so many fences being topped by spikes or barbed wire or at least having uncomfortably angular or aesthetically curved metalwork on top making it inappropriate for the beginner looking to use there abdomen for stability. Then you find that most fences that are in the appropriate style are so small that you’d likely find yourself on your backside with the lack of space to get your feet under you. However, a fence was eventually found and once the space was deserted (doing this stuff on your own in your work clothes in the middle of a busy street would make you look like a bit of a berk!) I got myself over my chosen obstacle. I don’t have video evidence for obvious reasons but I hope you can take my word for it when I say…
Challenge seven complete!!!
“What? Why? Mate rather you than me – that sounds like my idea of hell!” said everyone I told about this challenge. You may well be thinking it yourself right now and to be honest I don’t blame you because I did when MH first presented it to me and its what she said when I asked her to do it with me. The thought of it does rather smack of a medieval man sticking his own head in the stocks, locking himself in, then shouting “Roll up, roll up, bring your favourite mouldy fruit!” However, its this very thought process that underlies the very purpose of improv theatre and is the reason why i’d recommend to anyone and everyone to give it a go.
The fears of public embarrassment, doing something considered abnormal that might bring ridicule or having your ideas shot down by people around you are fears that almost everybody shares and its these issues that improv theatre tackles head on.
In the improv world there’s no such thing as a bad idea, whatever comes to mind, no matter how wacky or outrageous, or conversely, even if you consider it to be boring, its a good idea as long as you engage with that idea. In the improv world, if you think you look stupid you can look around the room and find that, more often than not, everyone looks just as stupid as you do, someone’s probably doing something totally hilarious and before long everyone’s laughing at everyone else and you find yourself feeling stupid for being the most normal. In the improv world you can have purple elephants that have there mating rituals on top of church spires; you can have games of cricket on the moon where you get six runs when you hit the ball into orbit and a catch can take several hours and many miles of running; you can have cocktail bars full of leprechauns drinking espresso Martini’s and discussing the latest scandalous behaviour at the water polo club; you can have airborne mosh pits for fairies at heavy metal gigs; you can have schools where the children teach the adults to be more childish because its just more fun that way. The improv world is like a terry pratchet novel on heat, you can be as weird and imaginative as you want to be and its wonderfully liberating.
The actual class itself was a taster session full of games that you’d more commonly find being played in a secondary school drama class, each designed to introduce you to just a few of the ideas they cover in there more extensive beginner courses. At the start, you stand in a circle, everyone looks just as terrified as you are (I’d already taken 20 mins sat outside to pluck up the courage to go in at all so I was bricking it), by the end you’ve spent 2 hours laughing continuously at the surreality of what’s going on around you, you have a bunch of new friends, bonded in weirdness, and you walk back out into the world feeling a little more care free (at least until you wake up the following morning and normal life begins again). Its a wonderful world the improv world, and its a fantastically jovial way to just let go of reality for a while. Do it. You’ll be happy you did. Would I do it again, hell no!
Challenge five complete!
P.s. Here’s a taster game to do with a friend, I want you to tell a story one word at a time where you and your partner have to say alternate words. Generally the first word that comes to mind is the best word. The starting point is “Once upon a time….”, For Example…
Once upon a time…. “There”.. “were”.. ”holes”.. ”in”.. ”cheese”.. ”containing”.. ”gremlins”.. ”from”.. ”Cyprus”.. ”that”.. ”could”.. ”tunnel”.. ”through”.. ”Edam”.. ”without”.. ”chisels”…
and so on and so forth! Have fun!
Sport keeps me strong, mathematics keeps me smart, baking keeps me salivating but, as satisfactory as these trifles are, what keeps me sain is that faint shining light glistening far in the distance from where i stand... wielding only my strength and my wits... facing the infinite headwind...
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