Olympic Park set for Open East festival with Rebecca’s old ice-cream van

Rebecca Davies (5th from left), with her ice-cream library and friends from House of Fairytales and

Rebecca Davies (5th from left), with her ice-cream library and friends from House of Fairytales and Barbican's Drumworks band - Credit: Barbican

The world’s first ice-cream van library made its appearance today in east London—ready for the Open East Festival planned at the Olympics Park.

Rebecca Davies ready to call bingo

Rebecca Davies ready to call bingo - Credit: Barbican

Artist Rebecca Davies bought the old van and converted it to a library where she interviews anyone with a story before illustrating it and putting it in her collection for people to peruse.

Artist impression of how Open East festival will look

Artist impression of how Open East festival will look - Credit: Barbican

“This is a library where people come together with their personal stories of their families and their cultural rituals,” the 28-year-old explained.

“I meet them one-to-one and record what they want to tell me about their traditions—like cheese chasing, karaoke crooning, nettle eating, disco or maypole dancing.”

She has even hoisted a maypole on top of the converted ice-cream van for anyone fancying a quick fling around it at July’s festival.

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She also plans bingo with her own East End cockney theme such as “Kray Twins—11, Bethnal Green—13, Forest Gate—88, Hackney Wick—66” and “Rosie Lee—33”. You get the picture.

Rebecca, who originally started her Beau Belles ice-cream van heritage project on a gallon of cash from the Artsadmin organisation in Whitechapel, was one of a parade of performing artistes at today’s festival launch to meet the media.

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The weekend of music, food, theatre and family activity takes place in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park on July 27 and 28.

International acts include Toots & The Maytals, The Waterboys, Seun Kuti and Egypt 80.

Attractions for youngsters include a travelling art circus by the House of Fairy Tales which has Gavin Turk’s Space Pyramid, a children’s story centre and a hip-hop poetry puppet adventure.

Pandemonium Drummers and BMX riders from the Olympic opening ceremony also perform, along with east London groups including Theatre Royal Stratford East, Barbican Drum Works and LSO Discovery.

The festival, marking the first anniversary of the London 2012 Olympics, also has moving performances encouraging audiences to explore the Lea riverbank and parkland, culminating in spectacular surprise finales which are being kept under wraps.

Open East is one of a series of summer events for the phased opening the Olympic park, which will be completed next spring.

Day tickets are £9.50 adults, £6 children aged 5-16, under-5s free.

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