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A BEAUTIFUL POEM FROM BELL SQUARE AMBASSADOR CATHERINE

Our ever popular Winter Lights event was held at Bell Square recently - and as you can see from the photo gallery it's a dazzling and beautiful for everyone that comes along.  As always, it's a free event and everyone is welcome.

One of our Bell Square Ambassadors Catherine came along and was inspired to write this beautiful poem, read it in full below

WINTER LIGHTS
The ceremony of winter lights
A harbinger of many cold nights
Lit up with many-hued beacons of hope
Held by the future of tomorrow
& yesterday’s shadow
Making memories new
And brushing old ones anew
 
At the church, a sea of illuminated creatures
Heard the mayor praise Hounslow’s features
She sparked the fire
Of Hounslow’s desire
Up went the gargantuan bell held by a rope
As did the lady on the tight rope
 
There resounded in the air
An echo, as a hundred rockets did flare
And the speakers did blare
Hounslow was the place to be
For all those who did dare!
- Catherine Habbie

Thank you Catherine - we love your writing and poetry!

 

To keep up with upcoming events, visit our What’s On pages here

And if you are attending Bell Square events – don’t forget to share your experiences on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag.

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A Review of Guixot de 8 from Bell Square Ambassadors Navya and Thara

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Guixot de 8 took up residence in Bell Square earlier this month and here is the view from the eyes of two of our junior Bell Square bloggers Navya and Thara.

And here it is, along with some great photos they took as well:

On Saturday 4th November, we went to Bell Square to see the Guixot de 8 games. We saw many games and they were all unique and something we had never seen before. They were made of old reused parts of bicycles and kitchen utensils such as pans and spoons.

As a person who’s only seen newly built toys, this was a great opportunity to have fun with old but new games. It was interesting to see how creative the builders from Barcelona had been and how they used physics to make games without using electricity. We really enjoyed playing all the games and how difficult they were. They all required different skills and determination. 

We saw all the children and also many adults trying to succeed in the games. They got frustrated but were still very invested in achieving the aim of the games. 

Overall this was a great experience and something we’d love to do again.

Thanks again to Navya and Thara for coming along and they took some great photos which you can see here.

 

To keep up with upcoming events, visit our What’s On pages here

And if you are attending Bell Square events – don’t forget to share your experiences on social media using the #BellSquareLDN hash tag.

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A View From Bell Square's Artistic Director: Ray Lee Presents Chorus

Something strange is going to land in Bell Square.  What are these giant machines, these futuristic creations from a bygone age?  Where have they come from? 

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Towering high in the air, a series of metal tripods stand like three-legged giant insects.  Their rotating arms have loudspeakers that create pulsating, harmonic music.  Red lights on the arms whirl around like planets in motion, producing orbits of colour.  These rings of light, high above us, combined with the hypnotic sounds, are really quite transfixing. 

This strange thing that will soon appear is Chorus, a monumental installation of giant, moving sculptures with spinning sound machines. 

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I saw this installation at a festival last year. It was a bitterly cold January night with a biting wind and frost on the ground.  I am a fairly hardy outdoor arts programmer and used to being outside in all weathers but the temptation of a hot cup of coffee in a nice warm café would normally have been too much, even for me, to resist that night.  But then I saw Chorus in the distance, towering in the crisp night sky!  Hot cups of coffee were forgotten!

Standing 5 metres high, each tripod turns at different speeds to give changing sounds and rhythms. Together, they sound like a celestial choir.  You can wander amongst the installation, appreciating the different voice of each machine and its place in the 'chorus'.  The music of these machines is absolutely beautiful - abstract, gentle sounds that draw you in, so you don't want to leave. 

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These amazing machines are the work of British artist, composer and performer, Ray Lee.  He has created many large-scale music installations which have toured the world and won him many awards, including the British Composer of the Year Award in 2012. 

His big fascination is with how scientists and philosophers talk about the universe, and his spinning sound sculptures are inspired by 'circles of ether', the invisible forces that surround us. 

Long ago, early scientists believed that ether filled the whole of space.  Even as modern science developed a new understanding of the universe, we still talk about 'the ether' - like something has 'vanished into the ether'. We think of the clear sky, the upper regions of the air above the clouds, or the heavens.  The 'ether' has also been said to be full of radio waves - and that it is through ether that sound waves pass.

Ray Lee says, 'I am fascinated by the way science represents our view of the universe.  I have a child-like fascination with radios, radio waves, magnetism. There is a magic in turning on the radio and receiving signals through the ether - or in holding 2 magnets in your hands and feeling this invisible force pulling your hands together or pushing them apart'.

Chorus is not only a sculpture or installation – it is also a performance.  The sculptures, or machines, make sound. When the machines move, it changes the sound, so the idea of this being a live performance is important.  There is a relationship between the audience, the artists, and the machines.  Audiences talk about Chorus as 'an experience' rather than about it having a specific meaning.  

The artist hopes that we find a space, a moment, for contemplation, that takes us outside our everyday lives.  A place where we don't have to explain our experience, but that lets our minds drift off among the stars. 

As darkness falls at Bell Square on Saturday, 2 December, the machines will start to sing their siren call.  Come and see them at 4.30pm, 5.30pm or 6.30pm. 

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A VIEW FROM BELL SQUARE'S ARTISTIC DIRECTOR: STREET GAMES FROM BARCELONA

Guixot de 8 is a Spanish company that make street games.  Using recycled materials, they make original games in their workshop in Barcelona.  They pack the games into a van and go wherever they are invited.  They then set up the games in the street and play with anyone who wants to try their hand.

Guixot de 8, led by creative force Joan Rovira, have been making street games since 1991.  They have been to 30 countries in all 5 continents.  Joan says they have made about 300 games which has given new life to about 10 tons of scrap!

Guixot de 8

Guixot de 8

Spain has a deep-rooted love of games in the street.  These are usually well-known, popular games – and also ‘cucaa’ which involve endless variations of climbing up, or along. a greasy pole in celebration of different festivals and other special occasions in small towns across Spain!  But Guixot de 8 were the first to create sets of original games and turn them into a street show.

Since then, many more companies dedicated to street games have emerged – Tombs Creatius, Toc de Fusta, Itinerània, Katakrak and others.  Talking with Joan, he explains that the best companies have developed their own style such as games made of wood, or traditional games made in giant versions for the street.

I have seen many of these street games in different places and they are always a magnet for children and adults alike.  It is lovely for anyone, and perhaps especially an adult, to stop and play in the street with other people.  It is genuine fun, completely absorbing.  And easy to find that you have been very happily distracted from whatever else you may have been doing!

Guixot de 8

Guixot de 8

There is something timeless about these street games.  They are not new, shiny, the latest thing, not digital, not even electric.  Each one is carefully made by hand and is quite beautiful and special, based on simple physical and mechanical principles.  I asked Joan why, in a time when people have access to so many digital games, he thinks people find these hand-made street games so appealing.

Joan Rovira:  ‘I think it’s because they are an alternative to screen games.  I think that playing with simple physics is attractive.  Physics has a poetry that captivates you.  Also, the games seem easy but they are not!  It makes people keep trying, over and over again.  When playing the games, people are all children – just of different heights!’

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One of the things I love about these games is that you just start playing them with people you don’t know.  They are so much larger than the games you might have at home, so they contain an implicit invitation to play with them as a community.

Joan says that they often create a very trusting relationship between people.  ‘Sometimes, someone takes a person’s bag, and then passes it to another person to keep, whilst the owner is playing.  This is a bit unthinkable in current times, but it has happened many times’. 

‘People also learn from each other – passing on what they have learned from the person playing before.  People give each other advice and applaud those who succeed.  People will chase after a ball that has fallen out of the game for others’.

‘People laugh together, people smile, people think.’

Cia Katakrak

Cia Katakrak

So often at Bell Square, people say the events bring people together and make them feel connected to others in their community.

Let’s take our public space and play games together!  See you on Saturday, 4 November!

 

Guixot de 8 bring their Street Games to Bell Square on Saturday 4 November from 10.00 am - 1.00 pm, and again from 2.00 – 5.00 pm.

 

 

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A View from Bell Square's Artistic Director: Stage or Street? Iron Skulls at Bell Square

Next up at Bell Square is Spanish dance company, Iron Skulls, with their show, Sinestesia

A few months ago, this show played at Sadlers Wells in central London, generally considered to be one of the world’s premier venues for international dance.  A review described the show as “fast, furious, streetwise and great fun” and “brilliant, high octane!” 

So, can a show transfer successfully from the main stage at a traditional dance theatre to the gritty, urban environment of a city street?  Well, this is street dance – and I would say the street is where it truly belongs!

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Seeing a performance in a theatre, and seeing it outdoors, is a very different experience.  I will be first in the queue to see a great piece of dance in a theatre – there can be something very special about the intensity and focus that this type of space brings.

But I also love seeing performance in a public space.  This is for everyone.  There are no conventions here, no artificial barriers - you can sit, stand, move around, enjoy the show however you like.  There is often a very direct connection between the audience and artists in an outdoor setting.  The artists are very close to you and the experience feels very real - sometimes quite raw.

Shows meant for indoors and outdoors are therefore usually quite different in style.  Very few shows work well both indoors and outdoors, because the context is so very different. 

Iron Skulls, though, is one of the few companies that perform successfully both indoors and outdoors, even with the same show - they understand how to adapt their shows for different environments.

Iron Skulls Company, based in Barcelona, is a dance collective that started in 2013, formed from a group of B-Boys called Iron Skulls Crew.  B-Boying is a form of street dance started by young Puerto Ricans and African Americans in the mid-1970s on the streets of the Bronx.  The Iron Skulls dancers come from across Spain and bring diverse influences to the group – contemporary dance, hip hop, martial arts and acrobatics.  They also interweave music production, fashion and graphic design, creating a very distinctive style of urban dance.

The “virtuosic, visual drama” of Iron Skulls (Guardian) has successfully graced the stages of the world’s most famous dance theatres.  It has also toured to many of the most famous outdoor festivals.  In 2017 alone, they have performed in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Finland, Slovenia, Hungary, Gibraltar, the USA and Costa Rica, in addition to Spain and the UK.

I saw this show outdoors in a huge public square in rural Spain. It was great.  I also saw it with an audience of about 8000 other people, which did create a special kind of atmosphere!

But for me, the soul of Sinestesia is on the street.  And I think I will like this show best of all when I see it at Bell Square – on a city street where it truly belongs.

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Come and decide for yourself – and let us know what you think!

Iron Skulls Company perform Sinestesia at Bell Square on Saturday 7 October.  There will be an afternoon performance at 2.30 pm and a ‘night-time’ performance at 6.30 pm.  The show lasts 25 minutes.

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