Slapstick Festival, January 2016

The Slapstick Festival is always one of the highlights of the Bristol cultural calendar. It attracts many of the big names in British comedy past and present and, as well as the excellent screenings and speakers, one of the things I like about the Festival is the friendly atmosphere, with presenters often going to watch other events they are not directly involved in. It’s a great place to discover new favourites: I will always be grateful to the Festival for introducing me to the films of Harry Langdon and Pierre Etaix. This year’s event has just ended after 25 events over six days – and I went to 12 of them.

My Festival started at the Watershed with Silent Comedy Westerns, the theme of this year’s programme. Film historian Kevin Brownlow introduced five short silents while John Sweeney accompanied the films brilliantly on piano. It began with a curio – a clip from a French ‘western’ called Indians and Cowboys filmed outside Paris in 1905. It was rather garishly hand-tinted and didn’t look much like any western you’ve ever seen – an omnibus stood in for a stagecoach. It told a hoary old tale of a woman and daughter kidnapped by ‘Indians’ then rescued, with the help of a dog who carries a message from a dying man to the heroes. This version also had Swedish intertitles, helpfully translated by audience member Peter.

Mr Haywood, Producer (1915) is a Tom Mix short where a group of “cow-punchers” decide to go into making “movin’ pitchers” – but every scene they try to film ends in a chaotic, set-destroying brawl. It was the same joke done several times, but quite fun. The best of the event was A Movie Star (1916) where Mack Swain plays an actor who goes to a theatre to watch his latest picture – a ‘Thrillem Films’ western romance called Big Hearted Jack. The women in the audience are particularly excited by his presence – the fact he’s so odd looking adds to the comedy. He plays up to his star status, but then his wife turns up… Both the film within the film and the surrounding material provide plenty of laughs.

By Indian Post (1919) is interesting for being an early film directed by John (credited as Jack) Ford – but an unfortunate incident with some lacquer means several minutes of it are lost, which makes it a little confusing. John’s older brother Francis directed and starred in A Bandit’s Wager (1916) as the bandit who bets a woman she will voluntarily kiss him one day. John himself popped up as her brother, and this was the stronger of the two films. Finally, we had Broncho Billy’s Adventure (1911), in which a protective father – who kisses his daughter a little too much – shoots her lover. The flamboyantly dressed Billy, played by Gilbert Anderson, steps in to stop the townsfolk lynching him but the threat from them is, apparently, enough to show the father the error of his ways. It was probably the weakest of the films on show – and Billy didn’t even seem to be a major role. Overall, an eclectic, interesting mix.

The next event was Jollywood! – a brief history of Mancunian Films, hosted by Mike Livesley, and illustrated with plenty of clips. Mike’s enthusiasm for these films was clear and made it a thoroughly entertaining hour. The star of the show was Frank Randle – a fascinating if forgotten figure who carried a loaded Luger, smashed up dressing rooms in theatres he didn’t like with an axe, and drank crates of Guinness for breakfast. Described as a cross between Keith Richards and Frankie Boyle, he had his teeth removed to make him look funnier and, if he didn’t like an audience, would throw his false teeth at them. Diana Dors made a film (It’s A Grand Life) with Randle and called him – unsurprisingly – “mad and drunk.” His real life antics looked more interesting than some of his films. Mike also discussed George Formby, an early star for the studio, and there was a lovely clip of Norman Evans playing Fanny Furbottom – an influence on Les Dawson’s Cissie.

The films were made on the cheap (the first features we made above a garage in London) and the final cut often included fluffed lines. Whole scenes were often improvised in 20 minutes; they were, Mike said, “staged rather than directed.” Eventually, under financial pressure, the studio was sold to the BBC and production ended. But they remain important, Mike argued, for showing regional accents were evident in British films, long before the kitchen sink dramas.

Mack Sennett: King of Comedy was a showcase of some of the 1,000-plus films the legendary Sennett produced. David Robinson was standing in for Graeme Garden, a Festival stalwart who missed this year’s event through illness (get well soon, Graeme!), but having lost his glasses, he couldn’t read his carefully prepared notes. But it wasn’t a problem and he managed the event well. He showed a short clip from the end of The Curtain Pole because it was directed by D.W. Griffith, but then we had four full shorts. Sennett liked to use real events as the backdrop for his film and The Speed Kings (1913) was an example of this. Ford Stanley hammed it up unbelievably as a father who wants to pair his daughter (Mabel Normand – a key Sennett collaborator) off with champion race driver Earl Cooper. Mabel, however, prefers his rival Teddy Tetzlaff (both he and Cooper were real racers). The continuity was a little odd – the father and daughter kept swapping sides when sat in the audience – but it was OK, and Fatty Arbuckle popped up to be kicked up the arse a lot.

David warned that The Thief Catcher was “not the greatest” but was interesting for including one of Charlie Chaplin’s earliest roles (it was either his second or fourth film) and for only being rediscovered in 2010. It was basic – lots of the action taking place in and around a small hut – and included another dog courier, but it was decent. Don’t Weaken! (1920) was a film of three parts – dance school beginning, domestic comedy middle, boxing match finale. It didn’t really work as a whole, and the boxing went on far too long (sport was one of Sennett’s favourite subjects) but there were some cracking gags in there – surely no Slapstick festival is complete without someone having ice cream tipped down their back?

The final film was the delightful His Marriage Wow, starring Harry Langdon. This film was shown at the Festival a few years ago, when Graeme Garden did a session on this unjustly neglected Langdon, but it was great to see it again. He is such a sweet and likeable screen presence. This short sees Harry having wedding day nerves as Vernon Dent’s hilarious Professor McGlumm convinces him the bride’s family are only after his life insurance…

Lucy Porter hosted the next event, which was dedicated to Anita Loos: Hollywood Pioneer. Loos is best known as the writer of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes but had a long career in the silent era, and two films from this period were screened (with harpist Elizabeth Jane Baldry providing the music). The New York Hat (1912), directed by D.W. Griffith and with a starry cast of Mary Pickford, Lillian Gish and Lionel Barrymore, is more of a melodrama than slapstick comedy, and sees a minister buy the titular $10 hat for Pickford’s Mollie, using a trust fund left to him (for her) by her mother. Her father and the town gossips cause a scandal before order is restored. Lucy said this film highlighted several themes – women’s unpleasantness to other women, moral hypocrisy, fashion – that were evident across Loos’ work. And Loos wasn’t above being unpleasant about other women, either – her two not-entirely-reliable autobiographies contain plenty of that. Lucy also delved into Loos’ tumultuous relationship with John Emerson.


He co-directed the second film shown: The Mystery of the Leaping Fish, which Lucy described as “batshit mental.” A bizarre Sherlock Holmes spoof co-written by Loos and Freaks director Tod Browning and starring Douglas Fairbanks as drug-taking super-sleuth Coke Ennyday. The leaping fish are beach inflatables that are being used for smuggling opium. Remarkably, drug taking features repeatedly and there’s a great gag where one of the inflatables is injected with drugs to make it go through the water faster. It’s all very strange, but also very funny and ends with a brilliant kicker that the whole thing is actually a story Fairbanks is pitching to a studio executive – and he’s told to forget about a career in writing!

We had more of Fairbanks after, with a screening of the feature length western comedy Wild and Woolly, also written by Loos and directed by Emerson. Fairbanks plays Jeff, a Wild West obsessive living in New York, lassoing his butler and making him ‘dance’ by shooting at his feet, who is sent to Bitter Creek, Arizona on business for his railroad magnate father. Keen to impress their guest, the townsfolk decide to pretend that it’s still the 1880s and give him a Wild West experience. Needless to say, he gets the chance to be the Wild West hero he always wanted to be. A very nice premise, well executed and Fairbanks is on good form.

It was a very early start on Saturday to get to the 9:15am event At Last the 1948 Show Revisited, where Chris Serle interviewed Festival regular Tim Brooke-Taylor alongside “the lovely” Aimi MacDonald. The sketch show had quite a cast: John Cleese, Graham Chapman and Marty Feldman, as well as Aimi and Tim. Four previously lost episodes have recently been discovered (some in the David Frost archive) and so many of the clips had not been seen for 40-odd years. Tim couldn’t remember some of these ‘lost’ sketches and told me after he was “pleasantly surprised” by them, and Aimi said much the same. And they were right – they held up very well indeed, and some of the sketches (the crime drama spoof) and the great links the Aimi used to do as an egocentric starlet (‘Oh! Flowers! What a pleasant surprise…these aren’t the roses I ordered!’) were very funny. Best of all was one of the classic clips of everyone corpsing: John, Graham and Marty in drag as undercover cops, deliberately trying to throw Tim by changing their lines. The interview was also a lot of fun and it was lovely to see them enjoying themselves. They discussed how Dennis Norden was nicknamed ‘The Doctor’ for his script editing work, and Aimi told how she once heard Elvis sing jazz in a Vegas club. The show’s title, incidentally, was a joke about how long TV programmes take to make it to air (it was broadcast in 1967).

I left the Watershed for St George’s, where comedian Marcus Brigstocke was interviewing Richard ‘Golly’ Starzak and Mark Burton, co-directors of Aardman’s Oscar-nominated latest movie, Shaun the Sheep. The big news from this event was that they’re already planning a “very different” sequel to one of the funniest films of last year and it’s pencilled in for a 2019 release. They played some of the best scenes – the restaurant, the ‘jail’ – and the opening shot, where a cockerel holding the film’s title runs back into shot when the camera pans away. The original version of this sequence didn’t include this joke and re-shooting took 3-4 days. It also appears they added the ‘convenient quarry’ setting for the finale very late on. There were lots of interesting insights into the animation process – including footage of them acting out scenes in the studio – and Golly also revealed that they made the models smaller than they originally planned so they could borrow Nick Park’s props. The ‘8-80’ age range of the audience was evidence of the wide appeal of Aardman’s work.


Next up was Tim Vine explaining ‘Why I Love Sgt Bilko‘. He started with a typical Vine pun (“Tequila! Schnapps! Sambuca! I’m calling the shots”) but then described how his father had got him into Bilko by waking him around midnight so they could watch it (it was shown after Match of the Day). They still enjoy it together, often watching episodes after Sunday lunch (‘but now he’s the one who’s half asleep’). I’m not sure I had ever seen a full episode before but the two that were screened – The Twitch and The Court Martial – were very good indeed. The audio was not great – the slightly muddy sound of the original recording plus an echo in St George’s meant some of the dialogue was lost. But you don’t need to hear dialogue when you have a rollerskating chimp.

There was another early-ish start on Sunday with Here Come the Double Deckers: Reunited! The show, about seven kids who hung about on an old bus, was well before my time and I had never even heard of it before, much less seen it. The comedy clips that were shown from it had not aged terribly well, but there was a nice dance sequence with Billie and a robot. Far better was the chat between Matthew Sweet and three of the cast – Gillian Bush-Bailey (who played Billie, now an academic and cultural historian who has written papers about the show), Michael Auderson (Brains) and Debbie Russ (Tiger). Melvyn Hayes, who played their dustman friend Albert, popped up in a recorded interview, and reminisced about Debbie throwing sweets at him when he was sat in his dressing room. They talked about how they had all got on at the time, and forty years on, there seemed to be a genuine warmth and affection between them that was lovely to see. They also paid tribute to Douglas Simmonds, the only one of the seven no longer with us. Michael said Simmonds had “no interest in acting before, during or after” the show – in fact, he became a scientist later in life.


Ian Lavender seems to have been a late addition as host of Why I Love Ben Turpin and it was clear that the cross-eyed slapstick star was not, really, someone Ian ‘loved’ but he was a good guide. Three shorts were shown in this session – I was delighted to hear the boy sat next to me, who must have been around 7-years-old, laughing at all of them – with Stephen Horne on piano, accordion and flute. A Clever Dummy was the best of them, with Turpin playing both a janitor at the home of an inventor of mechanical ‘dummies’, and the dummy itself. It showed off his skills as a physical comedian very well. Both The Dare-Devil and Yukon Jake have some funny gags, but story-wise, leave quite a lot to be desired. In the former, Turpin gets stuck in a horse’s saddle and accidentally becomes a film stuntman. In the latter, he is sheriff of a frontier town. A dream sequence which includes a snowball fight between Mack Sennett’s Bathing Beauties is gratuitous filler. The most striking thing about Yukon Jake, said Ian, was that the real bear they used turned on its trainer…

The star choosing his Top Comedy Moments this year was local boy Stephen Merchant (interviewed by Matthew Sweet). He opened with Buster Keaton’s The Cameraman, which shows Buster nervously waiting to see if he has a date. Stephen said that the anxieties that Buster has in that are similar to the ones he had explored in his stand up show and TV series Hello Ladies. His next choice was Beau Hunks, with Laurel and Hardy. He commented on the unmatched chemistry between the pair, how he likes Ollie’s fastidiousness, and how you can’t help but wonder how they have managed to survive life to the point we meet them. He revealed that during filming of the The Office, whenever they wanted either Ricky Gervais or Martin Freeman to do an exasperated look to camera, they would say: “do an Ollie!” Similarly, Stan’s looks were copied by Ashley Jensen in Extras. I was delighted he chose some Jackie Chan (Project A), one of the genuine heirs to the slapstick greats. He spoke about his admiration for Chan doing his own stunts with little (no) regard to health and safety and said that apart of Tom Cruise, few Hollywood stars are allowed such freedom – indeed, Chan himself was rather subdued during his own stint in the US. Stephen mentioned doing a couple of his own stunts during films – he wanted to be known as the Tom Cruise of comedy – but it’s unlikely that will happen…

They agreed that Bob Hope had become rather unfashionable – his right wing views, the links with Miss World – but his films deserve to be rehabilitated and so we saw a clip from The Paleface, in which he plays his “cowardly braggart” in a western setting. We saw a scene from Play It Again, Sam, where Woody Allen is trying to play it cool, but fails in a very funny slapstick fashion. Both these clips also linked to The Office – the comedy in the gap between how a character sees himself and how the rest of the world sees him. Other ‘moments’ included the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera (he loves their anarchy) and a Saturday Night Live sketch with Chris Farley as motivational speaker Matt Foley (the funniest moments of which came from David Spade and Christina Applegate corpsing). He ended with the chandelier scene from Only Fools and Horses but did offer one small criticism: the close up of it hitting the floor was unnecessary (he’s right!). This was an excellent event and it was great to hear his insights into the comedy he likes and produces, and it’s terrific to see him supporting the Festival.

The finale of the long weekend took place at St George’s on Monday and saw Ken Dodd receive the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award. He came on stage shaking his tickling stick, and the plan was for Ken to be interviewed by Matthew Sweet. But, as the frequent references to his very, very long stand up shows suggested, it’s not that easy to stop him once he gets going. It was great stuff, and after his early questions were met with a barrage of (generally unrelated) jokes and funny stories, Matthew wisely stepped back, and just gave Ken an occasional prompt.


His first gig doing ventriloquism in an orphanage, Punch and Judy, retirement (‘it’s when you stop doing what you don’t want to do and start doing what you do want to do…well, I’m doing what I want to do, so why would I retire?’) were all covered. He talked about laughter being the best sound in the world – particularly the laughter that you hear from a children’s playground. He also mentioned the importance of music and serenaded us with a thank you song (there was, alas, no rendition of Happiness). We saw tributes from Bonnie Langford (who had been in Doctor Who with him), June Whitfield, Melvyn Hayes, Ricky Tomlinson, Debbie McGee, Barry Cryer, Bob Carolgees and a very heartfelt message from Barbara Knox. Ian Lavender – who had been the subject of some gentle ribbing all night from Ken (‘he’s an actor – he hasn’t eaten for six months’) – did a short speech from the stage and then Aardman’s Peter Lord and David Sproxton handed Ken the Award – a Morph with wild hair, prominent teeth and a tickling stick. It’s great to see Ken – at 88 – still going strong and it was a terrific end to the weekend.

After missing most of last year’s Festival with a bad bout of flu, I was delighted to go to so many events this year.

Huge amount of thanks and gratitude to Festival Director Chris Daniels and all his team for their incredible work in pulling together another fantastic programme with such a varied line up of screenings and speakers. Next up for Slapstick: a special event with Michael Crawford on 8 April and the Stand Up For Slapstick fundraiser in May…


Ending soon…

In the last few days, Shaun the Sheep has disappeared from the streets, the Bristol Whales have drifted away from Millennium Square and the Hogarth exhibition at Bristol Museum has closed. All three have been a credit to the city over the past few months.

Some other cultural events are ending soon, and I wanted to give a quick mention to some of them.

Mrs Henderson Presents finishes a three week run at the Theatre Royal in Bath on 5 September. Although it is based on the film of the same name starring Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins, it is a very different production – not only is the stage show a musical (there are around 18 songs), it makes a significant (and, in my view, necessary) change to the ending.


Photo from Theatre Royal Bath website

Telling the true story of the Windmill Theatre – famous for its still, nude performers and for never closing during the war – it is lots of fun. It has great music (there’s a live orchestra) and choreography, terrific costumes and sets, and a fantastic cast who seem to be having a ball. Tracie Bennett (Mrs Henderson), Ian Bartholomew (Vivian Van Damm) and Graham Hoadly (the Lord Chamberlain) are all particularly good, and a special mention must go to Emma Williams who plays Maureen, the accident prone assistant who becomes the Windmill’s star attraction. She’s gives a spirited, brave performance and her vocals – especially during the song If Mountains Were Easy to Climb – are very impressive. She’s a star.

The numbers – lyrics by Don Black, music by George Fenton and Simon Chamberlain – are of a very high standard. Possibly there’s one or two too many, but there’s a good mix of toe-tapping, upbeat, song-and-dance routines, and quieter, more emotional pieces. The opening of Everybody Loves the Windmill and Mrs Henderson Presents gets the show off to a flying start.

Photo from Theatre Royal Bath website

Photo from Theatre Royal Bath website

It is also very funny – numbers such as the Lord Chamberlain’s Song and Anything But Young raise lots of laughs, Mark Hadfield’s comedian Arthur raises lots of groans. There is darkness here, too – the shadow of war dims the Windmill’s footlights a little – which adds some necessary depth. But the show-must-go-on, stiff-upper-lip spirit wins through. This show, with this cast, deserves a long run – in the West End or on tour – and I hope it gets it.

At the Royal West of England Academy (RWA), there is a stunning collection of Kate McGwire‘s work on show until 10 September. I knew nothing about Kate’s work before going. When you walk into the room, the first thing you see is a large, twisting, alien-like sculpture emerging from the back wall. Then you notice it is covered in feathers, as are almost all the other artworks in the exhibition (although there’s also a great piece that uses wishbones). There’s a strange beauty here that I really liked, and I couldn’t help but have admiration not just for the skill and vision, but also for the patience in the creation of this work.


Also at the RWA, but ending on 6 September, is James Ravilious: Rural Life. The beautiful, atmospheric black and white photographs (such as this one) in this collection were taken in the 1970s and 80s in Devon. One of the most remarkable things about them is that they feel as if they could have been taken in the 1930s or 40s.

Photo from RWA website © Beaford Arts

Photo from RWA website © Beaford Arts

Finally, Withdrawn – the fishing boats that Luke Jerram placed in Leigh Woods five months ago for a Bristol Green Capital art installation, funded by Arts Council England – will be removed on 6 September. It’s a lovely walk through a beautiful part of Bristol to find them, and the visual image of these boats stranded here is striking.


(Disclaimer: I saw Mrs Henderson Presents for free, having won tickets.)

Dismaland, Weston-Super-Mare

Banksy’s new project Dismaland, the self-proclaimed “most disappointing new visitor attraction” in the UK, has opened in Weston-Super-Mare. It’s housed in the old Tropicana, which has been derelict since 2000, and this run-down spot is the perfect venue for the Dismaland “bemusement park”.

Img_6682Curated by Banksy, but with contributions from over 50 other artists, this installation – which closes on 27 September – highlights some political and social issues, while also taking the Mickey out of Disneyland and other theme parks.

Img_6370Most notably, there are the Dismal staff, in their black mouse ears, who are miserable, rude and unhelpful. As you go in, through Bill Barminski’s cardboard security room – I was asked if I had any hand grenades – you are told not to smile and not to enjoy it.

Img_6340 Img_6357 Img_6384 Img_6416At one of the many games, Hook A Duck From The Muck (the centrepiece is a bird covered in oil), the young woman running the stall was fantastic, shrugging her shoulders and dismissively throwing the prize – a cardboard cut-out fishfinger in a bag – at the winners:

Screenshot (2002)Elsewhere, in David Shrigley’s game, you can win an anvil if you manage to knock one off a pedestal with three ping-pong balls. Or take control of a gunship and drive into boats overflowing with migrants, or even into dead bodies floating in the water, in one of Banksy’s own creations, highlighting the current crisis in the Mediterranean.

IMG_6476Banksy also takes on the use of killer whales for entertainment, and the paparazzi who, inside the shabby, decaying castle that is the centrepiece of the park, are taking photos of Cinderella’s dead body as she hangs limply out of a upturned carriage. But he’s in more lighthearted mood elsewhere, with the Grim Reaper riding a dodgem to a Bee Gees song, which is very funny (even The Guardian‘s Jonathan Jones, in his predictably negative review, admitted he got “a half laugh” out of this).

IMG_6694IMG_6652Screenshot (2001)The buildings look dirty, the floors are broken and uneven, children’s rides are rusted and neglected, the ice cream van is burnt out. The tannoy doesn’t work properly. There’s a Jeffrey Archer Memorial Fire Pit which “burns one of the famed local perjurer’s novels” every day. The park’s fountain is smashed, so the only working fountain is from the water cannon in an armoured police vehicle. The carousel includes a knife-wielding figure sat on boxes of lasagne, one of the horses strung up behind him.

Img_6681Img_6503Jimmy Cauty’s vast model village – not a model setting at all, but reveals a very heavy police presence in the aftermath of some civil unrest – is very impressive. There’s so much to see it’s almost impossible to take it all in, but the attention to detail is incredible. Here, one Dismal guide was telling everyone to move along as there was nothing to see in this horrible place.IMG_6611IMG_6608 One of the highlights was the Circus Tent, a dark (in every way) freak show which includes Ronit Baranga’s creepy ceramics and Scott Hove’s monstrous Predator-like heads – a mix of horns, teeth and elaborately iced cakes.

IMG_6452 IMG_6456In The Galleries, I liked Paco Pomet’s paintings, Jessica Harrison’s tattoo-covered Royal Doulton-style figurines and Brock Davis’ playful food-based work.  Img_6562 Img_6575Img_6549Of the outdoor, large-scale pieces, Ben Long’s scaffold stallion and Mike Ross’ dancing juggernauts stood out:

Img_6395Img_6450Of course, any good seaside resort needs one of those boards where you put your face through a hole and have your photo taken…but Dismaland has adapted this for our selfie-obsessed world:

Img_6359There’s a lot of see and do here, and the four hour time slot flew by. I didn’t have time to watch all the short films that play on a loop at the cinema at the back of the park.

The grimy, forlorn feel is captured in a way that is amusing and enjoyable to discover and experience. It’s been cleverly thought-out and it’s huge fun. The Dismal staff deserve a lot of credit for what they add to the whole thing – their sullen, unsmiling misery is a joy.

Some may wonder whether bag searches and £40 Dismaland hoodies are entirely in keeping with some of the messages in Banksy’s work. But six years on from Banksy versus Bristol Museum, it’s great to have him back in this neck of the woods with a significant project. It’s just about the hottest ticket in town at the moment (if you book online in advance, getting in is fairly straightforward) and I would really recommend it.

Upfest 2015 – part 2

Despite wandering around Upfest for seven hours on the first day, I returned (for several more hours) on the viewing day – Monday – to catch up with all the finished work. Unfortunately, because of the rain, some of the art had still not been completed and one of the main venues – South Street Park – was closed. Therefore, some of the photos below come from another visit yesterday.

All in all, it was a brilliant festival. Thanks to all who helped make it such a success.

IMG_3227IMG_5620IMG_5635IMG_5639 IMG_5576 IMG_5575 IMG_5589IMG_5109IMG_5597IMG_5071IMG_5103IMG_5212IMG_5626IMG_5368 IMG_5246 IMG_5261IMG_5286IMG_5401IMG_5413 IMG_5275IMG_5656IMG_5306 IMG_5280 IMG_5289 IMG_5311IMG_5391 IMG_5314 IMG_5332IMG_5344IMG_5434IMG_5435 IMG_5336 IMG_5346IMG_5390 IMG_5358 IMG_5373 IMG_5375 IMG_5431IMG_3225 IMG_5581 IMG_5661IMG_5433IMG_5432

Upfest 2015

Today saw the welcome return of Upfest – Europe’s largest street art festival – following its ‘year off’ in 2014. Thousands of people turned out to see over 200 artists painting around Bedminster and Southville on the fantastic first day of the three day ‘urban paint festival’.

Here are some of my photos from today:

IMG_4715IMG_5023IMG_4685IMG_4695IMG_5009IMG_4904IMG_4972 IMG_4674IMG_4697 IMG_4690 IMG_4731 IMG_4735IMG_5034IMG_5056IMG_4672 IMG_4742IMG_4767 IMG_4743 IMG_4745 IMG_4762 IMG_4779 IMG_4785 IMG_4801 Img_4807 IMG_4811 IMG_4812 IMG_4815 IMG_4824 IMG_4829 IMG_4834 IMG_4836 IMG_4837 IMG_4842 IMG_4852 IMG_4856 IMG_4857 IMG_4864 IMG_4869 IMG_4870 IMG_4878 IMG_4884IMG_4873 IMG_4908 IMG_4909 IMG_4911 IMG_4913 IMG_4920 IMG_4927 IMG_4932 IMG_4935 IMG_4943 IMG_4947 IMG_4949 IMG_4953 IMG_4956 IMG_4963 IMG_4968 IMG_4976 IMG_4993 IMG_5001 IMG_5002 IMG_5005 IMG_5008 IMG_5014 IMG_4888IMG_5020

Upfest 2013

One of Bristol’s very best festivals takes place this weekend, with 250 artists from across the world come to Bedminster and Southville for Upfest. There will be painting at 28 venues, most of which are somewhere between Dean Lane skate park and the Tobacco Factory. Saturday and Sunday will be painting days, Monday a viewing day. Some of the artists have already started, but today’s rain has been a problem – let’s hope it stays dry for the next two days.

Upfest didn’t take place last year as the organisers took a well-earned break, so here’s a look back to some of what was going on at the 2013 event:DSC03197 DSC03316 DSC03363 DSC03126 DSC03130 DSC03152 DSC03153 DSC03166 DSC03170 DSC03181 DSC03209 DSC03243 DSC03277 DSC03294 DSC03303 DSC03306 DSC03323 DSC03334 DSC03341 DSC03351 DSC03365 DSC03369 DSC03372 DSC03379 DSC03382 DSC03387 DSC03390 DSC03393 DSC03402 DSC03403 DSC03410 DSC03417 DSC03431 DSC03441 DSC03443 DSC03462 DSC03466 DSC03496 DSC03520 DSC03535 DSC03541 DSC03544 DSC03574 DSC03582 DSC03586 DSC03601 DSC03613 DSC03625 DSC03629 DSC03644 DSC03619 DSC03653 DSC03715 DSC03717 DSC03732 DSC03813 DSC03830 DSC03836 DSC03843 DSC03872 DSC03858 DSC03728 DSC03633 DSC03635

The Bristol Whales, Millennium Square

A new art installation in Millennium Square has been unveiled this week, and sees two life size whales ‘swimming’ in a sea of plastic bottles. Created by Cod Steaks, initiated by Artists Project Earth and Bristol 2015, and supported by Arts Council England’s Exceptional Award to mark Bristol’s year as European Green Capital, the whales are visually stunning, but also raise a serious point about how plastic is increasingly polluting our seas and oceans. The Bristol Whales – we see the head of one, the tail of another – are willow, and the water is made up of thousands of plastic bottles. The drips from the tail are bottle tops. Every few minutes, water spouts out of the whale’s blowhole.

They will be around for six weeks (it’s a shame they aren’t here for longer) and it really is worth going to take a look at them. They are an excellent idea, brilliantly executed – and another reason to be proud of this great city.

IMG_4558 IMG_4560 IMG_4563 IMG_4564 IMG_4565 IMG_4567 IMG_4572 IMG_4577 IMG_4579 IMG_4587 IMG_4592