Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Ancient memories

And in setting things in motion for the Ancient Landscapes project described in a previous blog (next one on the list - go and have a look!) I was reminded of other ancient ecologies we have explored including our DoveDale rockpools from the Nothing But Footsteps project and a section I wrote for the Time Moves On narrative poem audio guide for the museum. This link will take you to an extract from a different section of Time Moves On - it was a lovely thing to work on that didn't get nearly enough recognition for any of us, especially the set of storytellers and actors who voiced it and Aidan Jolly and Jaydev Mistry who contributed the music - Aidan drew all the strands together for the final production.
ebbing tide -a DoveDale rockpool

Time Moves On, section 2: limestone

Reach back 350 million years and
Buxton lies under tropical seas.
Warm waves washing on fine sand shores.
Still lagoons.
A long slow rain of shells,
Sifting down like snow into sediment.
Layers of life, layers of death, building slowly,
And slowly into limestone

            and Ostracod.
            and Trilobite.
            and  Gastropod

            Cow Low Nick and Castleton,
            Demon’s Dale,Thorpe Cloud
            And Bradbourne,
            Limestone holds the memories of distant worlds

            Lonsdageia floriformus,
            Goniatites maximus,
            Pseudamusium sublobatum,
            Bellerophon tangentialis,
            Spirifer striatus.
            Pugnax acuminatus,
            Fenestella membranacea,
            Fenestella membranacea.....                       
            Cow Low Nick and Castleton,
            Demon’s Dale , Thorpe Cloud
            And Bradbourne
            Limestone holds the memories of distant worlds

Ancient Landscapes

Walking through the Peak District, we step on stories that run through all the long years of human life in Britain. They run still further back until the landscapes of 300 million years ago are worn smooth by our feet

The limestone of the White Peak can tell us about ancient seas and fabulous animals from before the days of the dinosaurs. In this project we will explore those rocks: visiting outdoor sites, looking at fossils and formations, building on our understanding of how those prehistoric environments shape the landscapes around us now. We will look at the end of the limestone days, and the climate change that shifted a world from limestone to millstone grit
 Introduction to the Ancient Landscapes project

Today saw our first sessions in the pilot workshops for this exciting project looking at the environments that grew the landscapes we live in here in the Peak district of Derbyshire and Staffordshire. Our first two groups met today - with people from Borderland Voices in Leek and participants of High Peak Community Arts' Project eARTh initiative
generous richnesses from the museum to work with

At Buxton Museum and Art Gallery we discussed the possible form of those ancient worlds, looked at fossils, drawing them, touching them, getting to know them
"when I look at this one, I see pictures. I see sunsets. Not my sunsets but maybe its sunsets"

Ideas grew out of fossils and sample artworks - we want to build those ancient landscapes as textile, model and puppet installations

we could make mobiles of sea creatures to hang from the ceiling so people walk under them. We could change lights so that the colour and movement suggests being underwater

Rag-rugs might give textures underfoot

We could record sounds, make a soundtrack of old seas
museum fossils
and extras from my own extensive collection of plastic animals! here a Dunklosteus model

a day of possibilities…where the project might go to next is anyone's guess

a modern coral but food for ancient thought

 Comments within main text in italics are from participants. Opening paragraphs from our project's basic information

Friday, 24 February 2012

This Summer is Special

At Whitefield Infant School in Nelson, we are brewing a wonderful project that will run through the summer term. Exploring the local park, we'll build a celebration hopefully drawing school and community into a single event with music, singing, masks, monsters, sculptures and who knows what else! Other artists involved include Chris Rainham (I'll post Chris' link later) and musician Steve Brown

At the moment, the Year 2s and I are escapading around the world. We set off with high hopes...

"I want to go to Africa on a camel", "I want to fly to Pakistan in a hot-air balloon" "I will race you to Pakistan on my bicycle"; "I want to go to South America on a bus" I want to go to Manchester on a train"

At the moment we're wandering about in various rainforests (with a few people on tropical islands) falling over cocoa pods, and baobab seed rattles and even finding beautiful seashells....bulletins will follow

Starting to plan this had me looking back over other Whitefield activities so here is a poem and some pictures form other adventures with the school....

Class 5, Whitefield Infant School, 20th Oct 2008

If you would like to come to Wycoller,
To look for adventures,
You must follow the path….

Pass the bright green leaves,
Touch the spiky dead flowers,
Feel the curly, spindly enchanted weeds.
Crouch under the shiny green leaves with yellow spotty spots,

Crawl under the juicy purple berries
And smell their sweet smell.
Look out at the flowers –
            tall, white pretty flowers,
            flowers like spiders webs,
            small purple flowers,
            tall brown seedy flowers and tickly grass

Creep quietly past the sleeping statues
Tiptoe carefully on the crunchy stone path
Squelch through the moist, damp spongy moss and the tall curly weeds

Don’t pull the leaves off the trees!
Don’t stand on the long, feathery leaves!
Don’t touch the stinging nettles!
Then you can stand still and gently touch the fluffy dandelions, soft as sheep

And now,
We are quiet
And Wycoller is waiting for us

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Unexpected stories out of paintings

I had been asked to look at using the stories that might come out of works by van Gogh (Year 3s) and Picasso (Year 6s)....Trying to let go of predictable responses, we made pop-up cards and waited to see n who else might wander into a scene or what voice might mutter in a portrait and just what could happen next.

the Cafe Terrace in Arles was quite clearly waiting for a bit of excitement...a runaway dog, chased round the corner by its owner dashed between the tables, niftily lifting a string of sausages as it went. Chaos! And the waiter set of after the dog and after the dog's owner. The angry cafe owner joined in and their chef, waving his apron. Not to miss any excitement, all the diners (after they'd mopped up a bit) join the pursuit and if van Gogh had turned up just 5 minutes later, the cafe would have been empty

Then there was the man in the park who couldn't read his map and the helpful policeman who showed him where to go, and the worker among the trees that wandered into the scene after van Gogh had wandered off and so missed his chance for lasting fame...

Picasso provoked somewhat darker stories and we met thwarted lovers (left lingering, until we found her, shared some cake and left some never seen before crumbs on a plate in the painting....), a prisoner pirate plotting his escape, mysterious Miss Blackandwhite, a grumpy old man with no friends.....but there was also the donkey who dreamed of escape and being able to give people rides on a beach somewhere and the stern, severe woman who wanted to ride a bicycle wildly through the streets of her home town...

A workshop to be recommended!

The Great Fire of London (2012 version)

Images from an event at a school i work in regularly.....children at Whitefield Infants School had been working with artist Kerris Casey-St.Pierre to make lantern versions of 17th Century London houses. then the Fire started.....the result is so wonderful, I felt it should be saluted!

A cold, damp morning in January and Old London Town grows in the Nursery garden

and the crowded streets are filled with imminent danger

the fire takes hold! (with a bit of help...)

and spreads fast and fierse. Even the Houses of Parliament go up in smoke!

By the time the fire had burnet out, there was little left. But from one last corner of a smoking ruin, two children emerged, miraculously intact after the flames had taken the rest of their home....

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Maths and Literacy courses, March 2012

We've got two half-day sessions in the Peak District in March. Looking at finding inspiration for stories and other writing outdoors and taking maths into physical settings with pirate treasure trails, clues and games, these sessions are great fun and full of lively, hands-on experiences, people to share ideas with and time to think about your own practice and how you might develop new activities. Basic details are below, follow contact Sarah Wilks to book and for more information: sarah.wilks@peakdistrict.gov.uk

Maths Naturally, Losehill Hall, YHA, 21st March, 1.30 - 5.30 £70 per person (discount if you book on both courses)

sizes and shadows might be the code for a pirate treasure lock....
or maybe we see what Maths we can do with icicles

Adventures Everywhere: literacy in the outdoors, Moorland Discovery Centre, 22nd March, 1.30 - 5.30pm. £70 per person (discount if you book on both courses)

sticks, flowers and a lump of clay can spell out a story

Monday, 6 February 2012

Pop-up Theatres - a new instalment

Following on from the Pop-up Theatres piece from back in November (Pop-up Theatres), we are delighted to invite you to visit a slightly crazy film of the process!

If this doesn't play too well, follow this link direct to the film on YouTube: Historical Entertainments