Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Old stones and ancient bones


Planning for Wintry presents?

not all stones and bones
Looking for something a little bit different for a present – Christmas soon, and Yule and Mother’s Night and Saturnalia if you’re of a Classical inclination…why not indulge yourself and a friend with a copy of my book Old stones and ancient bones: poems from the hollow hills?

Don’t like poetry? Why not try again? With poems from the dark, peopled gloom of Neolithic tombs on Orkney to the windswept moors of Derbyshire, an excitement of skulls and the beauty of stillness before winter arrives….


£5.00 a copy (includes UK P&P) and while stocks last, with Old Stones, get a free copy of “River and Sea” a little book featuring two of my stories.
To order direct:
Email me Creeping Toad
Payment: by cheque, Bacs or Paypal (to creepingtoad@btinternet.com)

or from Amazon:

an appetiser

The Satyr’s stories:
Beginning

“I was born out of the need of old stone and tree roots for a voice.

I began as an idea, shaped by water running through stone in deep caves, gathering a body for myself out of long lost bones, out of stranded horns and hooves and left-over memories. My flesh is earth, my skin grass and bark, my blood the mineral rich, crystal-growing streams of limestone darkness

Now I am here, playing the music of the wind, listening to bluebells ring, and the slow singing of carp in the cold pools. I am the watcher in the woods, the touch of the breeze, the rustle in the undergrowth. I am the shadow that slips away.
Always here. Never seen.”
 
Blackwater at Calke Abbey, source of the Satyr stories


Friday, 25 November 2016

Skulls, bones and stones

African wilds 
and ancient caves

hand axe

hyena tooth
Then there were bones and stones and teeth. Small hands carefully handling, turning over a flint axe, fresh flaked by James Dilley* in a wonder of precision, laying bone needles on a delicate palm, and wrapping a friend in reindeer hide**  and sitting him down with a wooden bowl and a stone knife and deciding that Stone Age school uniforms look more exciting than contemporary ones

Stone Age Days, Bone Detectives, an avalanche of ancient stories and excitable Reception children. “is it snowing rain or is it raining snow?” They posed the question (Colne-Primet Primary gets its pupils thinking!). None of us could answer it, but we mapped our adventure with snowflakes melting onto card, mud from the squelchy puddle, mud from the plant pots, mud from our boots, muddy wool from our gloves and the wind that whirled the rainy snow around the playground and the wind that threw the snowy rain full into our cold faces….This was a week that ended in snow but began in Africa - at least Africa in Chester with Overleigh St Mary’s Primary school and shaping stories, taking tales and retelling them, adding new detail and extra hyenas, or lions, or whales or sharks or crocodiles….

Buxton Junior School, slid into some stone age work with ease: telling us of their adventures with cave bears and wolves, unfolding Stone age Toolkits. With Bone Detetcives we became more analytical: asking questions, turning over mysterious skulls and trying to deduce their identities - or just lifestyles and challenging each other with our trickiest finds.
flint blade





Rewarding days and 450 children later at the weekend we found the Treasures of the peaks with the Knights of the Chapel. But that is another story.

a well-furnished cave with stone tools, fire platform and a cheerful family

* James Dilley: archaeologist and person of excitement! James will be back with Buxton Museum and Art Gallery in March for a weekend of Bronze Casting. if you would like more information on joining this workshop, drop me an email and i will send you information when details are finalised in the next few weeks: creepingtoad@btinternet.com


** relax, it was fake

Friday, 11 November 2016

Ripples of earlier rains


Ripples of earlier rains
Elland
11th November 2016

 
Our workshops began on 1st November 2016, a year to the day after the rain began that fed the river that spilled into the floods that smashed into Elland Bridge "an elephant stampede”, hitting the bridge on 26th December 2015, a bridge which “crumbled like Weetabix”*

lively days before the flood
Working for the Canal and Rivers Trust with Year 5 and 6 children from Elland C of E Primary School, we set out to explore the impact of the flood by looking at the river before, during and after those eventful days.

It flows, calm as a sleeping sloth

The bridge is nearly repaired now and as work moves towards completion, the Trust were looking for words and phrases to fit onto the sides of the river tunnel by the towpath. We gave them more than words and phrases, we gave whole flowing, flooding river poems

As shy as the fish’s cry

I’m not going to steal everyone else’s thunder just now: I’ll just quote from bits of our poems and leave the full texts for the C&RT to reveal in time….but here are extracts along with some of the folded rivers we made to help shape our word-thoughts….

As calm as rain and as a coconut that fell from a tree

Before the flood,
Calm waters,
A deep river,
Quiet and still.

The river runs through rapids,
A vicious cat of a river
Raging round rocks,
A racing river,
Crazily curling over boulders
Blue, black and brown,
Crooked, old and damaged.



 Flooding playgrounds,
The river roars loud as a tiger,
A stampede of elephants.
A rumbling avalanche,
But
Fish swim between swings
Calm water reflects a slide,
No children play here now.





waterfall picture notes

A wild waterfall,
Throws the river over the edge,
Water wiggling in streams down,
Diving down, onto deep, dark rocks,
The broken teeth of dinosaurs, of dragons,
Of monsters.


The water bursts,
Waves crashing,
Smashing into rocks,
A crazy bear with stone teeth,
 A bull charging,
An elephant stampede,
Plunging down, plunging onwards
Towards the town, towards the bridge,
Toward the bridge that
Will crumble like Weetabix.


the flood!

Extracts are from the Year 6 and Year 5 poems
* quotes from pieces by individual children


Elland Bridge Open Day
Saturday 26th November,
Details here





There should be a blog post about our workshops but it hasn’t surfaced yet!



I suspect it is better not to know  what is happening to the lone swimmer....


Winter night, winter water,
Christmas night,
The river wakes.
The flood is coming.

With many thanks to Tom and Claire and the C&RT team 
 and to the artists and poets of Elland primary School

Monday, 24 October 2016

Drawing Steam


Drawing Steam, 1



We took ourselves off to the World Heritage Site at the Derwent Valley Mills today for a Big Draw event as one of the Mills' "Discovery Days"



The Gothic Room where we worked
The theme for the Big Draw this year is “steam” and we thought that would fit in nicely with Victorian industry, mill machinery, the canal and the river and the old railway, but of course once you let visitors loose on a long piece of paper there is no telling where ideas will go….



“These people work in the mill. They have sad faces because they don’t like working in the factory…a boy and girl are smiling because they do like the factory…”



“Get out of my tree!” shouted the monkey who guarded the orange and banana tree




Moorhen, grassy field, feather and tree



By the river near the church

And so we cut them down,

Because we can –

We cut the sycamore,

And oak,

And beech,

Because we can,

We’re man,
And have dominion over all we see

But these the trees have weathered storms

The cold pinched winds of winter Derbyshire

-       And yet we cut them down –

Because we can.



 
autumn river

On this bright but chilly autumn day, 60 people joined us in the Gothic Room at Cromford Mill and scribbled and sketched, drew, rubbed and muttered and gave us a richness of pictures
trees: an exercise with oil pastelles


This is Drawing Steam, 1, DS2 will follow when we've unravelled the 6 metre long drawing from the back of my car! 
an optimistic red squirrel
With many thanks to all our artists, drawers, 
sketchers and scribblers!

Our next event: Wednesday 26th October: 
with the National Trust

Collections in the Landscape
This event is one of a series organised as part of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s Collections in the Landscape (CITL) project. With a grant from the Heritage Lottery, the Museum is changing the way people can access the Collections. As well as physical changes to the Museum itself, collections are going on-line and a series of apps will encourage people to connect places with Museum treasures even when they are out walking in the Peaks. Within the wider project, Creeping Toad is coordinating public events both in the Museum and out in the Peaks, offering people to explore aspects of the Collection in creative, engaging and often rather messy ways. Creeping Toad events are advertised in both the Museum events guide and on this blog



crow in charcoal and pencil

Sunday, 23 October 2016

From Winnatts to Chatsworth, by camera

From Winnatts Pass to Chatsworth House:

Reimaging the Peaks

Buxton Opera House: Val Dalling
On the 8th October a group of bold photographers set out with Chris Gilbert of Raven’s Eye to explore a connection between 18th and 19th Century prints of the Peaks and those same views seen through a 21st century eye and 21st century technology….


our team at Cressbrook Mill, Sarah Parkin
Clapper Bridge, Sarah Parkin

In their own words:
Sarah P:  
I like the idea of trying to recreate previous artists’ views or reinterpreting a view.  A historical ‘Proloco’ type thing…something I may revisit. Exhibitions inc historical imagery alongside current, appeals…


Chris:  
One of the things that the workshop has really made me think about is focal length and the role it plays in composition. It's something that I talk about a lot in my workshops anyway but working with the old prints really emphasised it for me.
 
a 19th Century view of Winnatts Pass
Valerie:
I thought this would be an excellent learning curve for me, and it certainly proved to be the case. as I continue to discover what the Peak District has to offer. This day was without exception one of the best I've attended, it was not only intellectually and historically informative, but it was also a most relaxing day where I felt completely at ease and with a great picnic into the bargain...perfect.

Winnats Pass, now: Nigel Slater

Spencer: 
 Chris' advice about simplifying techniques to allow more opportunity to think about composition was really useful. I tend to work on manual, so using aperture priority and exposure compensation was really refreshing and allowed me to think more about what I was trying to capture.  

Spencer: The historical context provided by looking at the prints was also really interesting.  As someone who works in a museum I am aware of historic images of Derbyshire as photographs, on paper and on porcelain but it was nice to link them with my own photography…

Monsall Head viaduct in the early 20th Century
and almost the same view 100 years later, Nick Hillman


Nigel: 
It's certainly reignited my desire to get out into the Peak District and do more photography.
 
view from Monsall Head, Nigel Slater
Another participant has posted on his own blog about the day - thank you, Nick

This was one of our Collections in the Landscape Knowledge Seeker 
Workshops. Others include a Poetry Workshop while on the horizon is an opportunity to work with Flint Knapper James Dilley, to walk the ancient landscape of Arbor Low with archaeologist Bill Bevan, 21st December, a whole day of maps, walks and the exploring the layered history of Castleton and Hope: date to be confirmed, in the spring of 2017
After that there will be another 2 similar workshops within the Collections project
another take on Winnatts Pass, Spencer Bailey

Collections in the Landscape
This workshop is one of a series being organised as part of Buxton Museum and Art Gallery’s Collections in the Landscape (CITL) project. With a grant from the Heritage Lottery, the Museum is changing the way people can access the Collections. As well as physical changes to the Museum itself, collections are going on-line and a series of apps will encourage people to connect places with Museum treasures even when they are out walking in the Peaks. Within the wider project, Creeping Toad is coordinating public events both in the Museum and out in the Peaks, offering people to explore aspects of the Collection in creative, engaging and often rather messy ways. Creeping Toad events are advertised in both the Museum events guide and on this blog



Sunday, 16 October 2016

Apples, woods and troll-tales

In a clearing in a wood....


Light up the Night and Apple Day


some pictures after a busy weekend...


In Plas Power Woods near Wrexham,
there is a pool on the river in the woods where....
 Stories waited
ready for stories
and as the evening closed around us...
....the lantern fish began to shine
and tiny lanterns glowed among the fallen leaves
That was Saturday, on Sunday, the morning rain cleared and...
there was an orchard to story...
and instant orchards to make
This is a quick update...more details and new stories will follow....