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Bradford Science Festival is back with a bang
The Bradford Science Festival is back... and it’s certainly planning to make its mark this year in more ways than one.
After last year’s inaugural event, the second festival is set to be bigger and better and has as its theme body modification – feature a live display of tattooing as its centrepiece.
One brave volunteer will go under the tattooist’s needle and get inked before an audience. There is also a film being currently made at a Bradford tattoo parlour showing people getting their tattoos, which will be edited together to show at the festival.
This year, the Bradford Science Festival runs from October 16-19, with events centred on Centenary Square and the University of Bradford. There is a strong children’s programme with more than 2,500 children – from Bradford schools, but also from further afield – attending during the week.
At the helm is Helen Barraclough of Space Connections, now working out of new offices at Forster Community College in Bradford. Amid ringing telephones, pinging e-mails and a gigantic bubble hoop that steadfastly refuses to make a bubble, she takes a moment out from the manic organising of the festival to talk about this year’s event.
“Last year was a pilot festival,” she says. “We had no funding and people were waiting to see what happened before they committed or got involved.”
Helen says they’ve “learned lessons” from the first event... and so has the rest of Bradford. Now they have funding from Bradford Council and the private sector (commercial law firm Schofield Sweeney form one) and have developed a partnership approach which has seen them get Bradford University, Bradford College, the Colour Museum, arts collective Fabric and the National Media Museum round the table and providing various degrees of help, organisation and hosting.
The sub-title of the festival is ‘It’s a Kind of Magic’, and while Helen hasn’t yet got Bradford’s Dynamo signed up – but if he’s reading this, she’d certainly like his people to get in touch – there will be a host of events that really put the magic into science, including Ian Dunn’s workshop full of magical tricks and mystifying illusions and the Cinemagic interactive show on special effects and optical illusions in the world of film, which is being hosted at the National Media Museum.
There will also be a return of the team which brought snakes into City Hall and a family fun day on the final Saturday in City Park. But one of the biggest draws is likely to be the Strandbeest... dreamed up by Dutch artist Theo Jansen, this is will be a massive skeletal monster put together by attendees of the event and which moves under its own power drawn from the wind.
“We hope it won’t destroy City Hall,” says Helen. She’s joking of course, but this is the ethos of the Bradford Science Festival – making science big and brash and accessible to all.
Helen says: “We have three aims, really, and they are to inspire the next generation of scientists, raise basic scientific literacy, and promote local science-based businesses in Bradford.
“Sometimes people think that science has nothing to do with them, but they perhaps don’t realise that science is all around them, that pretty much everything they do has some science attached to it.”
Which is why there’ll be a focus on tattooing and piercing. Helen says: “Tattoos are so popular these days. We’ll have experts talking about what actually happens when you get a tattoo... there’s a suggestion that the pain you experience releases endorphins in your body which gives you a rush and that’s why people keep going back for more – it actually makes them feel good.”
There’ll be an exhibition from the London Anthropological Society on tattooing and piercing across the world and in history. Helen adds: “It’s about bringing science and art together.”
Another area where art and science will collide is Forster’s Bistro where there’ll be an exhibition of Heston Blumenthal-style “Gastromagical Science” – no snail porridge, but plenty of weird and wonderful foodie creations. There’ll also be a kinetic sculpture trail put together by Fabric and a series of events at the National Media Museum based around the Cottingley Fairies faked photographs of almost a century ago..
The Bradford Science Festival runs from October 16-19. For more details, visit bradfordsciencefestival.co.uk.