Bedford River Festival

The Bedford River Festival took place this July following a three-year hiatus due to Covid. The event was hugely popular and thousands attended over the weekend. Bedford Creative Arts (BCA) was in the midst of the crowd with an art tent at the foot of Castle Mound, alongside our partner, The Place Theatre, Bedford. 

Over the weekend BCA offered a number of activities for visitors to take part in. Artist, Larry Jackaman, was on hand showing people how to make art from aluminium cans. Did you know that aluminium is infinitely recyclable, and it takes up to 95% less energy to recycle it than to produce primary aluminium? That is why BCA is pleased to be partnering with Ball Corporation to encourage the use of aluminium cans for drinking water, rather than plastic bottles.   

Larry had prepared hundreds of leaf shapes and visitors were asked to emboss a design on them. The designs ranged from plants and animals to fireworks and cars! The leaves will come together to form a larger piece of artwork which was commissioned by Ball Corporation to highlight the recyclability of aluminum. 

Pell Ensemble provided an immersive Virtual Reality experience for their dance 800 Lifetimes. Both adults and children were very impressed with the experience and for many it was their first time using a VR headset. 

Artists, Sergei and Maria Tsymbal, who BCA worked with on Refugee Week, set up a water painting section. Children and adults tried the colourful activity and were thrilled with the beautiful results. 

The Place Theatre also had a river theme for their activities. They had a cardboard river on the wall and visitors were invited to take part in some river-themed junk modelling. Junk modelling is creating new and exciting things from discarded items, in this case, The Place Theatre encouraged river-themed items. 

A new BCA programme theme is the River, so the River Festival was the ideal time to ask people what the river means to them. BCA had a 3D printout of the river running through Bedford and visitors were asked to write down their thoughts on the river and its importance. Many people described the river as making them feel calm, happy and peaceful. Another said it made them happy as it was a nice view. A visitor said they found the river calming and tranquil and they even have a picture of it in their office. 

People also commented on what kind of artwork they would like to see along the river. It varied from mosaic walkways to a sculpture trail, umbrella art was also a theme and one great suggestion was to remove rubbish from the river and making that into a piece of artwork.   

All in all a successful weekend.