Saturday, 5 August 2017

as black as two top hats

As black and as smart as two Top Hats

The Visual Stories Project,


Summer 2017

a watchful cheetah

a bird not be trifled with
In July and August I have been one of the artists involved in the Visual Stories Project* for Nottinghamshire’s Inspire organisation

Here, storytellers and visual artists (mostly mask makers) have been working with children from West Bridgford and Mattersey Primary Schools and other children in libraries during the school holidays to blend storytelling with mask-making and then shaping new stories either as individuals or as whole companies.

The results of school workshops are on display in West Bridgford and Retford Libraries just now. An online resource arising from the project should develop by the autumn.

In my sessions, predictably, our stories wandered in many directions. In Mattersey we heard stories about a bold Pirate Frog sailing his plastic boat across the wide seas of grass and of a lonely hedgehog. 

The artist team included
Anna Roebuck, maker
Stephen John Mask-maker
Nicky Rafferty, storyteller 
Jess Kemp, maker

The Frog Pirate
There was a frog who wanted to be a pirate and go looking for treasure. He made a boat in a plastic box, with dry grass for a soft bed and a stick mast with a big leaf for a sail. He sailed across the seas of grass where the grass sharks swam and mud-whales appeared until he reached the pond. In the pond, he could see an island and he thought there must be treasure buried on that island! When he sailed his boat onto the pond, the water bubbled in through the holes in its bottom. The boat sank. But the frog could swim so he was safe. He found some treasure but he couldn’t take it anywhere so he stayed there on the island in the pond counting his gold.

a tiger mask and tiger story
In library workshops, drawing on this year’s Summer Reading Challenge theme of Animal Agents, we wandered again. We have heard unexpected stories: of a seagull and a butterfly, of the mouse who tickled the tiger’s nose (not always a good plan), of a beautiful bird from Hogwarts Academy (a firebird, not the same as a Phoenix)

Firebird story in development: we worked with pop-up sculptures

Animal masks grew from card with Stephen Jon Mask-maker or from recycled plastic bags where the deft use of iron by Anna Roebuck melted carrier bag collage into tough plastic forms

I’ll post pictures below with some of our poems and stories….

Mattersey PS
Find your way into a world of animals and stories:

Behind the tree where the owl sleeps,
Across the sky where the arrows shoot,
Beside the tree where the deer leaps,
Between the trees where the fox waits,
Over a bridge where a troll sleeps,
If you stand there
You will find baby hedgehogs

Foxes chase rabbits, chase deer
Through this bright sunny forest
And if you come here you will find butterflies dancing together in the sky.

Two crows

There were crows,

Two crows,

As black as darkness,

As black as night-time,

As black as black as black,

As black and as smart as two Top-hats.

Two crows

As naughty as owls,

As naughty as little sisters,

Even naughtier than pigeons

That pinch people’s bottoms.

Two crows, out looking for trouble…

building stories with models and scavenged objects

Once there was a hedgehog who had no friends. None of the other animals would talk to him because he was so prickly and they thought he would prickle them.
One day he curled up in his hedgehog house under the shed and dreamed of rainbows. He dreamed of sliding down rainbows. He dreamed of meeting the rabbits that live in the sky and making friends with them.
Then he woke up and he woke up feeling sad because he knew he would still be lonely. But when he woke up he saw that all his prickles were rainbow coloured and beside him was a rainbow rabbit. They were best friends forever.

Summer Holiday Library workshop stories

The Mouse's Food Swap
One normal day, a mouse went to get his usual food which was apples but when he got there all the apples had vanished. The mouse was very disappointed until he spotted three trees full of berries. The mouse scurried up the trees as quick as he could. And from that day onwards he always ate berries and as he ate the berries and needed to climb in the trees to get them his tail grew longer and could wrap itself round branches
(Sutton-in-Ashfield Library)

Rosetta the Cheetah Queen
Once upon a time, there was lived a beautiful cheetah called Rosetta who was the Queen of the Rainbow World. One day, she went on an adventure so she packed her bag of delicious rainbow trifle and rainbow fizz and then she set off. On her way, she saw a beautiful rainbow but then she came across a cheetah witch who was very bad and tried to kill her. But she didn’t. To be continued….
(Stapleford Library)

Rosetta (on the left) and a beaker of rainbow fizz, with straw

*Visual Stories is a county (Nottinghamshire) wide project inspired by the Summer Reading Challenge theme Animal Agents. Animal Agents is running in all Inspire libraries from 15 July to 10 September.  Find out more
Visual artists and story tellers have worked with schools to create wonderful exhibitions for two of Inspires library galleries this summer in West Bridgford and Retford.

1 comment:

  1. a comment from Anna Roebuck transferred from facebook: Hi all ...just wanted to say i've loved all the sessions, It's been fun and great meeting n working with new people ... lovely to see how you Storytellers work, I've learnt a lot and feel reinspired!!