Saturday, 29 December 2012

When Bristol Froze: Harbour Wonderland

On the last weekend before Christmas, Bristol's historic harbourside around M Shed was lit up in such a way as to capture the hearts and imaginations of adults and children alike and draw us into a world of ice, snow and myth. It was the first "Harbour Wonderland" event to have taken place, and combined light projections, video, sound and even a little snow.

The cranes were illuminated in striking green, a round screen dangling impossible between two of them. Braziers sent fluffy ash into the sky, and as it fell, mingling with the harsh rain and glistening suds of a hidden bubble machine, you could almost be sure that what drifted downwards was snow.

Above the churning sea of umbrella tops fell a projection. The film made was by young people from South Bristol with Knowle West Media Centre and was a charming kaleidoscope of stop motion animation and the imagined story of when Bristol's harbour froze: "The only things that can survive are penguins. They're alright."

Kathy Hinde's origami cranes
Roosting up on the cranes were - cranes! A cloud of origami planes, lit from beneath and looking out over the harbour. These were the work of audio-visual artist Kathy Hinde.

Inside the M Shed cafe, a choir sang carols to families as they learned to craft their own origami cranes and tucked into a mince pie or glass of mulled wine. Outside, the braziers fought to keep the cold at bay and I picked my way between the puddles and amongst the soapy residue of what I wanted to believe was snow. There will always be a little bit of me that wants to believe in a world where the harbour froze and penguins skated where the ferry now makes its rounds.

I'm wishing for snow in the new year.

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