Mayfest, May 16 to 26

Here’s one of my favourite things to do with Mayfest shows: pretend that they apply to people from various parts of Bristol. For example, while walking down East Street the other week I wondered how the people walking through there would react to Hook, Skip, Repeat: being invited to use brightly coloured rope and a giant crochet needle, to help weave eye-catching spider’s web-like creations. It’s free.

How about Turning the Page, to who would this be most suited?

Imagine if your well-thumbed, outdated guidebook could talk. Think of the stories it would tell about the places it’s been, the characters encountered and narrow escapes along the way.
Through this intimate installation you are invited to investigate a series of clues hidden within a guidebook that magically come to life as you turn the pages.

How do books act as repositories of treasures and triggers of memories? When we read a book, do we leave something of ourselves in and on its pages?

I imagine that it would be magical for everyone although I may be a little biased as it is taking place in the library.

There’s something about some art installations or plays that make me think that it’s all designed for white middle-class audiences and then I read their program and realise that I am more than white and middle class.

Without trying to sound pompous (and failing), the human experience beyond labels is what the artists find as well and it was Brand New Ancients I thought of I as walked passed betting shops

The gods are in the betting shops, the gods are in the café,
The gods can’t afford the deposit on their flat …
Winged sandals tearing up the pavement,
Me, you, everyone, Brand New Ancients.

(Kate Tempest
Friday 17 – Saturday 18)

Mayfest brand new ancients

There’s also one where you are advised to only sign up if you are not afraid of heights and don’t have a heart condition. Goodness.

The Great Spavaldos

Mayfest runs from May 16 to 26 and there are many things to do – see Programme.


Mayfest is a little mind boggling and a lot amazing. A range of shows performed in various formats which will probably, nay undoubtedly, surprise over 10 days.

There is Magna Mysteria, an interactive series of magical events, which will happen across the city and over time, culminating in a showdown on the final day at a location near the train station.

I couldn’t tell you what the Blind Tiger is about: “Welcome to our lair. Take a seat, order a drink and see what happens.” Pay what you can if you want to go and are over 14.

For Motor Vehicle Sundown, take a seat in the last motor vehicle left on earth. This is an audio piece for two in a parked car in the middle of a busy city. £5 at the Trenchard Street Car Park.

Or invite people to your house and let the Avon lady come calling. If only I had nine friends. The idea of this one leaves me tingling. £120 for up to 10 people to join the Avon Lady in your own living room for a party with a twist. Avoncalling,

This has been just a taste of what is available. There is plenty more.

Mayfest runs from 17 – 27 May., like @mayfestbristol on Facebook or follow @mayfestbristol on Twitter.

Fortnight, a love story by Mayfest

Honey, I told you. These things never last. (link – YouTube)

I meant to write an explanation of Fortnight right at the start but registration had already closed and I never got around to digging out the Mayfest booklet from under a pile of other things and I couldn’t put into my own words the very pretty description. The chance to entice others had already gone anyway.

A friend signed us up – Thank you, Martin.

Fortnight promised to be a two week adventure that took creativity and transformed it into an experience of falling in love. Kind of something like that. Maybe it was more like having someone wonderful fall in love with you.

For two weeks this mysterious lover went all about the city and chose special places to leave small mementos and tasks.

A handwritten letter was hand delivered all over Bristol at midnight and contained an individual badge to open up treats. Posters on the Watershed, Royce Rolls, the Train Station invited responses by means of an sms to a specific address.

The two of us, and our daughter Mersina, visited the Mercure hotel and answered a red telephone in the lobby. I can’t remember the question now but I remember the setting sun as we pushed the pram back into town and the answers: sailing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge; hiding in the Redcliffe Caves.

We took two trips each to get to Pembroke Rd, respectively and not together. A house of bees, the honey, the map, the badge, the triangular tiled floor and the curved staircase. Mumford and Atlas.

The three of us were at John the Baptist’s church and we wrote the letter from the past. I typed, they read.

A trip up to a room on the top floor with a view of the Bristol Cathedral and the Council House. A very nice photograph and I still haven’t found the address to post my postcard. The front of which says sailing.

Waking up to a text message with a secret location and the promise of excitement. Emails during the day. A poem. A message asking for a reply. Secret words.

The Theatre Collection by the University of Bristol held the Odyssey, a map, a box, a book of circuses and individual little envelopes.

The tallest in our little party of three was telling me that you don’t laugh when you are happy but you are happy when you laugh. I wonder if it’s the same with love and adventures. You don’t send poems, hide clues, find treats, explore, get creative and wander when you fall in love but fall in love when you do all the above? I’d love to find out.

Fortnight was a personalised but shared experience that was like PS I Love You and Amelie and Charlie Brown and Love Is… all wrapped up into one.

Doesn’t it feel good to know that you’ve been loved? Doesn’t it make you laugh when you think of?

Fortnight: day nine

A view of Bristol Cathedral and the unicorn on College Green
Photo by M. Booth

Photo courtesy of Bristol Culture

Underneath the filtered light of the fading day, people in felt badges have been wandering into attic rooms, archival buildings, parks, libraries and museums, looking for something that they might have yet to notice has been there all along. They sent messages to people they have not spoken to in many years. They sent their voice into the ether wondering if anyone was on the other side of the line. They filtered through cards looking for the perfect book cover to remind them of someone (and they stole a few for later, too).


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