Sunday, 22 September 2013

Marriage of the Sea - Bournemouth Arts Festival

Bournemouth Arts Festival The Marriage of the Sea.

I was recently invited, by it's organizers, to an event at the Bournemouth Arts Festival called the Marriage of the Sea.
It's a parade that's loosely based on a Venician tradition but given a very old English kind of a twist.
Everything about the parade would appear much like any other wedding except there was no groom and a hundred or so brides to be wedded to and sacrificed to the Sea. The priests and some of the fashion elements had definite Venician inspirations behind them, otherwise the setting was made to reflect a Victorian era.

The events started in Bournemouth's triangle as a man came out dancing with his "bride" singing a song of the sea, shortly after a Victorian peddler-woman offering various fine wares to mark the occasion came out trailed by surreal music..

Shortly after once again a chimney sweep joined them to see what was going on,as he did so the surreal music grew louder.

The three worked the crowd as the audience gathered further, preparing everyone for the events to come.

Want to see what happens next? Well there are so many images in this post i've had to put it behind a break, click to see the full post:



Then the Venician's came out, singing of the sea and most amused by the goings on and happy to represent the origins of the ceremony. They were loud, happy and colourful.

Soon after, a brides-maid looking woman from straight out of Mary Poppin's London, came out sporting the most entertaining cockney accent I've heard in a long while armed, naturally, with a megaphone to mostly put the audience in their place. A fancy golden chair was brought out and placed centre stage in the triangle.

As events are coming to a head the directress of ceremonies, also armed with a megaphone, makes her way out to start proceedings, she starts to announce what is to occur and introduces people as they make their entry.
The family of the brides and wedding guests have arrived at this point and the crowd has been organised.
The priest arrives
The official wedding photographer...
Final announcements, proclamations and offerings are made before the procession of Brides commences.

The priest pays close attention
A guard makes sure the brides stay in line.

As each one makes their vows to the sea they make their way up onto the stone steps that will form the chorus lines.


And then the Brides begun to sing.

As they sing they are formed into lines and they begin to march down from the Triangle towards Bournemouth square.

The chair pusher contemplates murdering me as the parade then marches up through Bournemouth Gardens towards the Pier.

The march stops in the gardens briefly as two of the brides make a desperate run for it.
One was dragged back (but I didn't manage to get a decent shot of it.)

The march continues towards Bournemouth pier where a ship is waiting.

An impromptu archway is made for the Brides to pass under and as they do so they fall into a trance-like state, having accepted the sacrifice they're about to make. The singing ceases and surreal music is played.
The Bride that had escaped earlier makes an appearance, screaming out for the other Brides to reconsider what they're doing and run away.

Under the trance however the brides march onwards.

The Brides make their way down to the jetty before boarding the ship. Fishermen are ushered out of the way as the final part of the parade takes place and the brides are whisked away aboard a ship to be given to the sea...



The Brides are ordered to board the ship.


They take position along the edges of the ship..

Finally the ship makes-way and the brides wave to the onlookers as they go to sea.
And then they were gone... Never to be seen again.
Only one bride remaining, looking on as the sea swallows her sisters.


In the aftermath most of the wedding procession disperses slowly. The fishermen start to shout about the horrible waste of human life and tragedy of the events that have occurred. The wedding's guests and family argue with them loudly and insist certain prayers and songs must be sung for the ceremony to be successful.

As that concludes I have a look round the pier to find the large parade"floats", I'd missed them during the march as they were carried somewhere between the middle and the rear of the progression and I was constantly making sure to be at the front of things.

Finally, the last remnants of the parade play out, much as they begun, with a man and his bride dancing into the night.

I had a great time shooting this parade, this is the first time I've shot such a large, live, event and I am greatful it's an area I know well as it took a fair bit of energy to make sure I was ahead of the parade, let it pass, shoot it, then run back to the front. I had to race it to the very end to make sure I was in position too, which was lucky as I would not have had the angles I needed if I hadn't gotten there when I did.

So I should link this up as a lot of people were involved:
The event itself was posted here: link
Lead artist & director: Zerelda Sinclair
Choir Director: Ali Sharpe
Soundscape artists: Language, Timothy!
Devising led by: Kate O’Malley
Associate visual artist: Denise Poote 
Essayist: Bevis Fenner
Partners: HT Modelmakers
A special commission for Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival
Festival Director: Carol Maund 
Special thanks: Pavilion Dance, Pavilion Bournemouth, MEWS Salon of Bournemouth, Pulse PA Hire, Harry Miller at Hey Create, Linda Joyce Studios, Flirt Cafe

I found a full(ish) list of people involved at the following address: