‘Bring The Happy’ Christmas To Leeds
This December ‘The Happy’ is being ‘brung’ once again to Leeds, offering a rare/ second/ last? chance to get involved in this wonderful interactive project about happiness, says Rachel Auty …
‘Bring The Happy’ by Invisible Flock was born in Leeds Kirkgate Market in 2010 and is described as being ‘..part public art, part installation, part performance’. Its success to date has taken it on a 15-month nationwide tour this year and it’s set to hit Leeds once again. On 9th December the original interactive maps will open at locations across the city for viewing and new memory submissions. The mapping activity will then culminate in two special live Christmas shows at Leeds Town Hall on 16th & 17th December.
So what *actually* is ‘Bring The Happy’? Well, in ‘official’ words -> ‘an on-going project that attempts to map moments and memories of happiness across the country….. [it] presents an extravagant portrait of happiness, as the 1000s of memories collected are retold in all their beautiful, sometimes tragic, sometimes ridiculous and occasionally mundane glory.’
Memory 2872 – “10 days late by emergency C section our dreams came true, Rebecca was born. Taking her home was the best day ever, Christmas Eve 1992!“
But what is ‘Bring The Happy’ reeeaaalllyyyy?? Well, honestly? I’m not sure. I haven’t [yet] seen the live show. But many have: And it’s clear they have been moved, inspired and life-affirmed. They have tweeted, blogged, gushed. They have laughed, cried, sighed. They even baked cakes. And sunshine came out of their ears [apparently].
Memory 2705 – “1980 in Hoyland. They used to fetch Father Christmas round on the back of a truck with presents for all the kids. I loved it.“
My own experience of this project to date revolves around the musical aspect. For the live shows Invisible Flock have partnered with the mightily talented Hope & Social, who are the perfect fit for this project. The ‘Bring The Happy’ album is like no other you have ever heard before. It’s the whole, spine-tingling concept of the Bring The Happy project in a beautiful audio format. So now not only can you Bring The Happy, but you can take it with you too. And it’s amazing. Never before have I felt goose bumps quite like it during a mundane commute to work. The track ‘Italian Gent’ is particularly special, and I’m not the only one that thinks this.
“If you don’t feel the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention at the end of Italian Gent you have NO SOUL. The most amazing project with great music but tear jerking, heart-warming stories.” Richard Harrison
Right, so I reckon ‘Bring The Happy’ by Invisible Flock is so much more than you think it is. More than it is described as being. Even more than it actually is, y’know, ‘on paper’.
Memory 2486 – “Sat downstairs with my daughter on my knee, hearing my sons first cry as he was born upstairs at 6 in the morning Christmas Day 1960.“
I’ve been following the digital chatter as Bring The Happy has swept the UK. Here are some of the golden nuggets I found:
Kirsty Baille [went to the BTH live show @ Stockton, erm, twice and] wrote:
“Bring the Happy is an experience, not a show. It’s something truly special that I do believe makes our world just that little bit brighter. The performances that culminate from the few weeks collecting memories is just the icing on the cake.”
I think this is key here. There’s a lot more to Bring The Happy than just the live shows. Sure, they are an awe-inspiring culmination, but the music and the interactive memory mapping activities that happen before the live shows are [probably] underrated elements of this project. They are just as important; just as special.
So here’s how the mapping works: In the weeks leading up to the live shows, people are invited to place a moment of happiness onto a giant 3D map of their town or city. Each individual memory is marked onto the map with a 3-dimensional acrylic rod, the height of which is determined by a 1-10 happiness rating. This creates a 3-D landscape of the various communities and their inhabitants’ sense of wellbeing will begin to emerge – eventually forming a UK happiness portrait. Each memory is also digitally recorded onto an online, interactive map, which can be browsed and added to from anywhere in the world.
Memory 2495 – “Stockton market in the 50s, in the eve the stall holders hung kerosene lights on the stalls. If it rained the lights would sparkle.“
At the end of the project’s tenure in each location, the newly collected memories are retold in all their beautiful, sometimes tragic, occasionally ridiculous and perhaps mundane glory as a raucous, celebratory musical show – somewhere between a wedding and a wake – performed by both Invisible Flock and Hope & Social.
Memory 2364 – “watching my dear old dad chasing a group of teens down the road who had nicked our for sale sign, just wearing just his underpants.”
Now don’t get me wrong, the live shows are clearly mind-blowing; life-affirming; unforgettable, crash bang wallop events that slap you in the face and tickle your fancy at the same time. I know this because of what I’ve read and surmised, and thanks to these lovely people who have shared the love on Twitter
‘Balling my eyes out to @hopeandsocial ‘s music for #bringthehappy by @invisibleflock Wish I’d seen it at Ed fringe 🙁‘ – @roannawells
‘Might be in need of a little lie down. That was yum’ - @thisismyfot
‘If you’re near @warwickarts tonight, go see @invisibleflock ‘s #bringthehappy It makes sunshine come out of your ears. Honest.’ – @CatherineJEM
Clearly people are genuinely touched. Profoundly. They are reminded of all the clichés; that life is short, that the little things matter, that the best things in life are free etc. But mostly, they are reminded that those little everyday moments that make life, well, pretty bloody WOW actually.
Memory 2263 – “We’d go swimming in the river Tees and come out black and go straight to bed and no one cared.” 10/10
“If you can’t bring the happy into your own life, I hope you have someone close-by who can help. If you don’t, I hope you can find a way to ask someone. If you feel so inclined, bring it to someone else and do it without agenda. We all deserve to smile, even if it’s through our tears.” Kirsty Baille.
I believe that Bring The Happy by Invisible Flock has the power to affect people – positively, deeply, and lastingly. I hope that as many people as possible choose to be a part of this fabulous project.
Having the chance to reflect on your own life until sunshine comes out of your ears – 10/10
The interactive Bring The Happy maps will be ‘live’ across Leeds at the following locations from 9th – 20th December:
Trinity Shopping Centre, LS1 5AT
Leeds Museum, Carlisle Road, LS10 1LB
Armley One Stop Centre, 2 Stocks Hill, Armley, LS12 1UQ
Compton Centre Library, Harehills Lane, LS9 7BG
Tiger 11, Hillside, LS11 8ND
Temple Newsom, Selby Road, LS15 0AD
HEART – Headingley Enterprise and Arts Centre, Bennett Road, LS6 3HN
The maps will be available to interact with directly on your smart phone, allowing you to read the memories recorded on the maps and also submit your own.
The live shows at Leeds Town Hall on 16th & 17th December are now sold out, but rumour has it there *may* be a small number of additional tickets released for each night released during the week leading up to the shows…. Watch www.twitter.com/hopeandsocial for updates.
You can listen to & buy the music for Bring The Happy by the brilliant Hope & Social here >> http://music.hopeandsocial.com/album/bring-the-happy (Pay What You Can)