SENSE image


MAYK and Bristol Ferment

To mark the tenth anniversary of Mayfest, we have teamed up with Bristol Ferment to commission ten brilliant artists to make a new work in response to one of the senses.

These ten new commissions, woven through the festival programme, invite you to explore new spaces and sensations, and offer ten new perspectives on how we experience the world around us.

Co-comissioned by MAYK and Bristol Ferment.

To book tickets, call Bristol Old Vic on 0117 987 7877.

As all of these shows are completely new, we don’t know some of the practical information yet. But, as many of you are now planning your Mayfest itineraries, we wanted to make sure that you get what information we do know, as soon we have it. And also because we’re really excited about all of these projects and want to share them with the world. So here’s a taster of what we have in store.

Richard Allen – Ghost Machine


Ghost Machine is an encounter between a person and a machine in a suburban shed. The machine reveals the story of a man haunted by an image that seems to shift and change as it sits on the wall of his study. In an attempt to locate the origins of the image he builds a viewing machine to finally confront it.

Location: A suburban shed, TBC
Dates: 24-26 May
Times: 1pm–6pm
Duration: 30 minutes, 1 audience member at a time

Jo Bannon – Vision(s)


The human eye takes shortcuts. In any one moment it cannot assimilate all the visual information coming from any singular image, the depth, colours, shapes, it’s all too much, too fast. In these instances it refers to the past, scrolling through all the things you’ve already seen. It makes an assumption. A leap of faith. It tells you what you see.

We’ve all got blind spots, parts of our identity we can only guess at. In this short encounter I will begin tracing an identity made up of vision and visions, imprints, and guesswork. The blind spots between the stories we tell of ourselves and the stories told about us.

Location: Centrespace Gallery
Dates: 17–18 May
Times: 12pm-3pm
Duration: 10 minutes, 1 audience member at a time

Benji Bower – Nocturnes


Tuck yourself up into bed, turn out the light and let the darkness of night envelope you in this intimate, installation in a hotel room using music, sound and projection.

Location: Radisson Blu Hotel, Broad Quay.
Dates: 24 May
Times: 7pm–midnight
Duration: 10 minutes, 2 audience members at a time. 

Lucy Cassidy – Pause


You think you hear something. You hold your breath. You listen. It’s a voice, calling you.

A delicate, almost imperceptible intervention into everyday life. An invitation to pause, to listen.

Location: A Bench, Broadmead (collect a map from Bristol Old Vic box office)
Dates: 21–26 May
Times: 12pm-2pm  4pm-6pm

Laura Dannequin – Dance, Dark, Dance


An invitation to dance in the dark. A private ritual, a solitary step of your own making. Participants will be given the space to shape their experience as they plunge into darkness for a quiet or a wild moment.

Location: The Parlour Showrooms
Date: 25 May
Times: 12pm-10pm
Duration: 20 minutes, 1 audience member at a time

Sam Halmarack – What Does Pop Music Smell Like?


Ever wondered what Lady in Red smells like? Or Hello? By Lionel Richie. What Does Pop Music Smell Like is an olfactory and auditory experience for and individual or small group of individuals in an informal space. A small stand laid out with objects laid out to create a range of unusual smells in a cafe or bar inviting people to interpret the lyrics of famous pop songs with a smell.

Location: Mayfest Café, College Green
Dates: 24-25 May
Times: 5pm-8pm
Duration: 5 mins, 1 audience member at a time.

Kathy Hinde – Vocal Migrations


Vocal Migrations is inspired by how Bats use sound to navigate using the reflections of their ultrasonic calls. Use Echo Location to ‘see’ your surrounding by listening carefully to how your own vocal calls are altered by a distance sensing voice-sampler.

Originally commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts, supported by Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol with funding from Arts Council England. Technology developed by Matthew Olden and Tarim.

Location: Factory Studios
Date: 22 May
Times: 3pm-6pm and 8pm-11pm
Click here to view a map
10 mins walk from Lawrence Hill Station
The following buses leave Bristol centre for Lawrence Hill,  – 6, 7, 42, 43, 44, 45

Tom Marshman – Botox Party


Botox Party explores the notion and the questionable action of erasing your life experiences and history from your face. Tom Marshman invites you to take long look in the looking glass and get familiar with your own face and skin.  Will knowing what has been help to work out what will be?

Location: Bristol Old Vic Dressing Room
Dates: 16-17 May
Times: 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm
Duration: 20 minutes

Sleepdogs – SUPERNOVA


You’re led into the darkness and asked to stand until the sound stops. SUPERNOVA is a sci-fi tale of light, how we use it, and the problems it causes. There will be noise and heat and motion, and it will most definitely end. A performance for one audience member at a time that takes inspiration from the speed of sight.

Location: Bristol Old Vic Sidestage
Dates: 18-19 May
Times: 7.30pm-9.20pm (Saturday); 6pm-7.45pm and 9pm-11pm (Sunday)
Duration: 10 mins

Tom Wainwright – Barry the Beaver


Barry is a beaver. And a performance poet. Educated at the University of Life, Barry is a fountain of no nonsense wisdom. There is no subject Barry is afraid of broaching, irrespective of whether he knows the first thing about it. Education, Immigration, Menstruation – Barry’s on it like Sonic. Boom.

Location: Fri 17 May at 1pm, Mayfest Café, Sat 18 May at 6.50pm Circomedia, Sun 19 May at 7.45pm, Bristol Old Vic, Thu 23 May at 5.45pm The Brewery
Duration: 10 mins


Various Locations
Various Times
£10 (for all ten commissions)