Happy Events

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So, I was up before the sun this morning to hang a morning greeting from the bridge across Belconnen way. I’m like some sort of joyful Canberran Santa, but with less beard, less red, and less fat. Just to note, I am more or less incoherent with exhaustion. The sunrise was worth it, though.

I think the banner came off quite well – it was large enough to read; but not so large as to be unmanagable.

I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to fasten it to the bridge properly and it would fly off, cause an accident, and I would be the first ever ANU Art student to kill someone in the pursuit of art; but thankfully 8 ties, a lot of thread; and a roll of tape secured it well enough. I did take the banner down myself though – I was very uncomfortable with the idea of leaving it there unsupervised.

It was pretty hard to gauge people’s reactions, given that they were in fast moving cars – but some people honked at the banner, so I at least I know it got noticed.

Today was fairly exhausting, but satisfying. I hope everyone had a good day today.

More photos on Today’s Set on the Flickr.



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Day Ten: Bottle Drop

Today I left messages in bottles throughout Belconnen.

Each bottle contained a handwritten note with a positive message on it. I made sure the notes were sticking out of the top of the bottle, so people would be sure to notice them and not confuse the bottles with rubbish.

I left 30 bottle messages in all sorts of places – some discreet, some obvious. I know at least two of them were discovered – a friend heard some people joking about one of them; and when I went back past another the message was gone but the bottle was still there. I hope someone got a smile from that one.

The bottle drop went pretty well, apart from the weather. It intermittently poured with rain, which complicated things a little. I ended up having to call the drop off early, when it started bucketing down and I stopped being able to feel my toes.

Photos of most of the dropped bottles are up on the Bottle Drop Set on the Make Your Day Flickr.



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Today’s happy event was a cupcake stall at Gorman House Markets.

The premise was pretty simple. People decorated their cupcake, I photographed their cupcake, they are their cupcake. From left to right: Cupcakes, Napkins, Blue Icing, Pink Icing, Gummi Bears, Smarties, Jelly Beans, Party Lollies, Chocolate Freckles.

It went really well – it was a big hit with the kids, who weren’t at all phased by being offered free cupcakes; and once adults got over the shock of not having to pay, some of them got involved as well.

I was prepared with business cards this morning, so I was able to give them to people who were curious about what I was doing. I was a little less prepared for the effects of the sun – it didn’t quite click for me that sunshine actually melts things. But it didn’t get too messy, so it was okay. And people made some amazing cupcake creations.

I had a really fun time, and I got really positive reactions from everybody who went past. I was there for about an hour and a half overall, and it was excellent. Even if I did enough warm lollies to make myself ill – oops.

As always, there are ridiculous amounts of photographs up on today’s set on the flickr. Big thanks to Cathy at Gorman House Markets, who let me set up and didn’t even charge me a stall fee (ahh, nepotism).



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Today I left a path of happiness from the Peter Karmel Building to Myers and then back again.

There were a few dramas getting magnets printed, but it all worked out in the end. Since it was just black and white text, it didn’t have to be particularly high quality.

Over the course of about an hour and a half, I distrubuted about 50 positive messages through Civic. I quickly discovered that not all metallic surfaces are magnetic (that hadn’t even occured to me) – but thankfully most pole, bins, benches, bicycles and cars are.

I tried to leave messages in both discreet, suprising places, and really obvious places where someone will definately happen across them. I didn’t stick around to see what happened with the messages, but the lady who asked me what I was doing gave me a smile – mission accomplished.

More photos of today can be found in the Day Eight: Magnetic set on the Flickr Photostream.



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Today’s project was small and simple – I put rubber ducks in the fountains of Civic.

There were a couple of reasons I went for such a low key project today – the last few days have been hectic, and I needed a little bit of a breather; and I wanted to experiement with setting up an entirely non-interactive event. This is interesting for me – I don’t really have any idea how to judge if it was a success or not. I haven’t had any feedback from people who actually saw the ducks, as I left them to their own devices and didn’t stay to monitor people’s reactions. Responses to the photographs have been quite positive, though.

There will be more projects along these lines over the next two weeks. They’re a nice break from the intensity of the bigger projects; and I enjoy the idea of making more discret works – cute little suprises for people who are paying attention to the world around them.

And I’d just like to note: the soap bubbles in the fountains were nothing to do with me – it was just a happy coindicence when I showed up this morning with my duckies.

Lots more photos up on today’s set on the Flickr.



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Oh. My. God.

I have actually been rendered inarticulate with joy.

Today was amazing. Or should I say Arrrrrmazing.

Today, I enlisted Kiri to dress up as a pirate and challenge people to duels in Union Court.It was fantastic. I had fun; Kiri had fun; and a whole lot of other people had fun too. Over two hours, Kiri fought about 30 pirate duels (and lost about 20 of them…); accosted approximately 50% of people passing by; and even scored some hugs.

Amazingly, the majority of duelists were people who didn’t know us; didn’t know what we were doing; but responded to Kiri’s demands for a fight. Sometimes after the fight they’d ask for details, but generally they just went happily on their way. The people who asked for details were great – I had a good chat with a few people and got some really positive feedback, and a lot of people said they’d check out the facebook group.

Speaking of the facebook group – “Fight A Pirate” was advertised on the official group as starting at 11:30am this morning in Union Court. At about 11:35, a guy showed up who told us he’d seen it on facebook and had to be there. I have no idea who he was. I have no idea how he knew about the project. I’d say he made my day, but my day just kept getting better from there. (I actually heard someone exclaim “this has made my day” while photographing his friend dueling – that was pretty damn satisfying.)

People responded really positively to “Fight A Pirate” – we only had one actively hostile heckle; a lot of people laughed; a lot of people came back for a second look. There were a fair few bemused glances and quite a lot of nervous laughter; as well as people who actively avoided us, but that was to be expected. While it was fantastic to see people accepting the challenge and fighting the pirate, it was also really interesting to see how people declined – generally with a very polite “no thankyou” or “maybe later” – even though Kiri was shouting abuse and calling them cowardly seadogs. Amazing.

I am absolutely satisfied with how today went. It has without a doubt been the best day so far, and I have no idea how I’m going to top it. The only thing that I think could have been improved on was that I was unprepared for the interest people showed in the project and so I hadn’t thought about giving them any way to follow up with it. Although I told them about the facebook group and the blog, it would have been nice to have business cards with the URL to hand out to interested parties.

The next few days are going to be pretty low key – today was intense, and I am exhausted. It was absolutely worth it though – I had so much fun, and so did everybody else.

There are a lot more photos in the Fight a Pirate set on the official Make Your Day photostream – check them out!

And, once again, a huge THANKYOU to Kiri, who was a fantastic pirate and made today possible.



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Yesterday, I bought a beachball. This morning, I wrote “kick me” on it, and set it free in union court.

My intention was that people would see the ball, kick the ball, and I would follow it and see where it ended up.
Unfortunately, the ball had other plans. It was a windy day, so I spent a lot of time following the ball as it rolled itself about the place – with the occasional rescue whenever the ball rolled itself into an out of the way corner. Perhaps it was shy, or maybe it just didn’t want to get kicked.

But, despite its best efforts – it got kicked.

Admittedly, the ball got a lot more laughs and smiles than it got kicks. Which I find quite interesting – people were amused by the ball, but didn’t want to interact with it. This is something I’m coming across a lot with participatory works – people see them, smile at them, but don’t want to actually participate. This will shape future events – in the next week, I am going to try out a few events that don’t require active participation.

In any case, some people were happy to participate. Some people just kicked the ball as they were walking past, but a couple of people had a little bit more fun with it.

As always, the full set of photographs from today is up on the Make Your Day Flickr.



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I started this morning at 7:30am in Civic with a full box of Jumbo Chalk.

I finished at 12:30pm at Fellow’s Oval with significantly less chalk.

Over the course of the morning, I walked a hell of a long way and drew 41 hopscotches of varying shapes (but all the traditional 10square size).

Today’s project raised an issue that I was aware would eventually crop up, but wasn’t really sure how to deal with – is it still causing happiness if I’m not there to see it?

The obvious answer is yes, of course it is. But it’s a tricky issue – I don’t know if all 41 hopscotches got hopped on. I’m going to take a wild guess and say no, they didn’t. But I know some of them did, because I saw people hopping on them. Not a lot of people, but the first guy I saw made my day, and all the others were just a bonus.

I would probably consider an event a failure if I didn’t get any positive feedback at all. But today I saw a guy hop through one of the hopscotches without even breaking his stride; a man walked past as I was drawing one and did a little hopscotch dance; a lot of people smiled at me; and one man laughed and told me he was too old for hopscotches. That’s enough for me.

These aren’t easy things to document. I do the best I can, but it’s hard to pin down a smile from a passerby. In any case, I saw enough smiles today to satisfy me.

Photos of most of the hopscotches are up on the Make Your Day photostream.



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I spent the day in Civic today, with a whiteboard and a sign that said “draw something”. And people did. Things were pretty slow at first – a beautiful sunday afternoon, pretty much everyone in Canberra was off doing something more fun than shopping, so there weren’t many folks about – but it picked up once I set the whiteboard up in the entrance to the food court.

Mostly the white board drew a lot of bemused looks, but quite a few people had a go and it even gathered a bit of a crowd at one point.

Draw Something seemed to be a pretty big hit with passing kids, which was really nice. Some of them were sitting at a nearby table and came back two or three times to add things.

I was told off by security for having a camera – apparently my dslr and telephoto lens (I was lurking some distance away, being inconspicous) are not discreet enough, but the iPhone snuck past.

My major problem was setup – I didn’t have an easel, so I had to make do with propping the board up against whatever was handy. In the foodcourt I had a chair, so that was fine; but in a lot of places that meant that it ended up on the floor. This didn’t work nearly as well – it was below eyeheight, so a lot of people didn’t even notice it; and having to kneel discouraged people from using it if they did see it.

Some of them still had a go though.

I took some photographs of the art throughout the day. It was interesting to see how people worked with the existing art – some of them altered it; some of them drew around it; and some of them wiped it out to draw their own.

As always, more photos are up on the Make Your Day photostream.



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The Daisy Chain Factory opened its doors at 12pm today, outside Gorman House. The factory workers (well, me) got quite a few smiles, and even a couple of friendly laughs, in the hour she spent picking daisies before moving inside to the factory proper.

Over the next couple of hours, the Daisy Chain Factory churned out daisy chains. The Daisy Chain Factory got a very warm reception from the customers of the Gorman House Markets.

After spending a few hours at the markets, the Daisy Chain Factory headed into Civic to spread the daisy love.

The daisy wearing sheep got an audible laugh from a group of women walking past, which was very satisfying. I hoped it would cause giggles, but actually hearing them was very rewarding.

Incidentally, there is something immensely liberating in walking through civic draped in flowers. I can’t pin it down specifically, but it’s fantastic. I recommend it to everybody.

More photos of the day can be seen on the Make Your Day Flickr Photostream.



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