WCMT Fellowship 2016 research: innovation in participation in public urban green space.
Publik Secrets has been in residence in the Hadden Park Fieldhouse, in Kitsilano West Vancouver for a year as part of the Artist studio residencies in Fieldhouses programme.
I met up with George Rahi from the collective of musicians, fabricators, and visual artists. Publik Secrets’ work creatively re-imagines public spaces as participatory gathering places. (They) strive to invoke wonder and play through multi-disciplinary, community-driven arts. with a focus on participation.
Publik Secrets also run the Gamelan Bike Orchestra where members of the ensemble collected over 100 discarded bike frames to create a Gamelan orchestra comprised of ‘pelog’ tuned instruments.
For their studio residency in Hadden Park Fieldhouse which sits on a beautiful part of the sea front near the Kitsilano Beach Park, they’ve continued their practice of participatory projects from experiential large scale public installations to kids workshops making instruments from recycled bike parts.
From the fieldhouse, they’ve been running public film screenings powered by bike and participated in city wide connected events like the Big Draw. Their specially designed bike trailer has a portable powered sound system and a fold out stove for cooking.
George has a long history and interest in re-purposing bikes. Inspired by the mechanism, he builds instruments out of the bike frames and adapting bike parts for diverse uses; bikes creatively move through and work with the city in multiple ways.
Publik Secrets applied for the fieldhouse residency because of the opportunities it presented and the way it could extend their work further into the public realm.
Their events attract people from across the city interested in what they’re doing. They’ve found it harder to draw people directly from the neighbourhood around Hadden Park – it’s a relatively wealthier part of Vancouver and the focus tends to be on recreation and sport – perhaps there is less need for something like this? Occasionally they get people from the neighbourhood knocking on their door wanting to know more – that’s something they welcome.
Publik Secrets have held multiple events over the past year from Bike-In Pedal-Powered Movie Nights, to Tea Gatherings, Shadow Jams (making puppets) and Culture Days Open House. In April they held a 24-hour Karoake in the fieldhouse inviting spontaneous participation. Now they run two recurring events each month: they host a See Sounds Listening session with a guest presenter followed by sharing of other material brought by participants, and a FreeStyle Focus Group influenced by freestyle rap to improvise and create.
Part of the magic of the fieldhouse programme is that it reflects the diversity of uses of parks, and this creative work with bikes and music means there’s something happening in this park beyond sport. And people from across the city of Vancouver get to visit this really beautiful fieldhouse.