Wednesday, 18 September 2019

stepping stones

The Stepping Stone riddle
stories from a river's running, part 3 
 The river continues to run, and the stories continue to grow, with new tales today from the storymakers and artists of Class 4 Gisburn Rd Primary School

Through stories and photos, we gathered ideas for mythological characters: who might live in your chosen place on the river”. Stories unfolded, building lifestories, hopes, dreams and despairs for our charcaters. then our characters were transformed into flags and we saw bridges and fish, red witches with long fingers and a shoal of swimming fish….

bridge flag in development
1. There is
An ancient bridge
Over an ancient river
Where an ancient perch
Swims in a waterfall’s pool.
This is an enchanted fish
Who curses anyone
Who tries to catch its friends.

Try to catch me?
Try to catch my friends?
You’ll never catch us!
You’ll never catch anything ever again!

2. Seaweed hair and dead worm lips
with crab slippers on his crabby feet,
Rapid is a thief who will pick the pockets
of anyone or anything who comes too near the riverbank

flag reveal
3. The red shark is lonely. His only friend is the red witch. “I want a friend, but I am alone. No-one wants me. So I get angry and I see red…” 

4. The land of Tyvon
After many centuries, there still stands on the wasteland shore, beside an enchanted river, an enchanted hut and in that hut is an enchanted book. In that river is an enchanted breed of fish and the enchantment of the fish is found on page 2850 of the enchanted book. The enchantment means that these fish are healing fish, healing people with their Tyvonion spells

5. Don’t catch my fish,
Don’t shoot my birds,
If you don’t solve my riddle
you will be turned into a stepping stone at dawn
For our beautiful river.

(*What is the riddle, you ask? Another story, for another day!)

Working with the Ribble Rivers Trust, this is a week of workshops, building to a celebration of River Tales next week, sharing artwork that celebrates the drama, mystery and biodiversity of a river. Classes involved have visited a local river, and with Creeping Toad are using that knowledge to create artwork and next week will bring all that creativity together

With many thanks to all our artists from 
 Year 4 of Gisburn Rd Primary School
not quite finshed

Tuesday, 17 September 2019

Graceful white swans

Graceful white swans
stories from a river's running, part 2 
Today’s river adventures grew in Coates Lane Primary School where Class 3 dived into a river of pictures nad words, playing with colours and patterns and descriptions. We created animals as we went, making small puppets to give us a rive rof creatures. There were swans and snakes; eels, otters and newts. Further afield, as our river met the sea, we met dolphins and flying fish, a turtle, a sea dragon and gliding out of the dark and dangerous depths, a fire squid. Lacing it all together from the sea’s deeps to the streams shallow gravel beds were the salmon, carrying stories between mountain top and ocean floor

Working with the Ribble Rivers Trust, this is a week of workshops building up to a celebration next week, a gathering of River Tales that capture the excitement, drama and biodiversity of a river

 The salmon speaks:
 The water runs
From mossy mountains and
Over rugged rocks,
Round rocks, where
Red rubies and
Excellent emeralds and
Pink pearls, pure pearls
Lie in the gravel of the river bed.

Magical moss wraps the rocks,
But super, slippery, smooth stones
and big brilliant boulders
Fill the river bank.
There is sand, smooth sand, slippery silver sand
Under the water
Where perfect pink and purple pebbles and
Glistening green emeralds gleam.

You can rest by this river where the kingfishers perch on branches
And graceful white swans swim,
Sliding over silent, glimmering waters
Reflecting lights,
Glittering like glistening jewels
Jagged gems and golden stones
Shining under the river’s mirror,
As the river races on
Towards the exciting, flowing waterfalls

Sleek otters play in the waves
Chasing swift salmon
While a slippery salamander sits on a stone
And watches
As a tough turtle trundles
Over the sand and down to the waves,
Where he flaps his flippers
And suddenly slips away, swiftly into the
Welcoming waves.

flying fish

many thanks to the staff and pupils of Coates Lane Primary School for their hospitality and to the artists and storytellers of Class 3 
for their hard work and wonderful ideas!

Monday, 16 September 2019

Tales from a river's running

A Giant Girl with Rainbow Eyes
Stories from a river’s running
stepping stones
shark and smiling eels

This week, I am working with various schools in Barnoldswick in East Lancashire. Here, we are combining art and storymaking with science, using information children gathered on river-dipping workshops to inspire tales, transformation, flag making and puppet shows….

On our first day today, St Joseph’s RC Primary, set out to find the characters from lost myths that might, or might not, or really should, live in the waters that run through the town. The were rver princesses, unicorns, trolls. there was a water-witch, a golden duck and several dragons...

Working with the Ribble Rivers Trust, we are building up to a celebration next week, a gathering of River Tales that capture the excitement, drama and biodiversity of a river

The Stepping Stone Troll
"Curling, curving water,

Swirling, whirling,

Shallow water,
Fast water,
Running round moss-slippery rocks.
Blance carefully,
Over my stepping stones,
Walk if you can,
Run if you dare,
Cartwheel if you feel
That you really ant to die
and cross the stones if you can pay my fee”

Meander speaks

Gurgling water,
Curling, swirling water,
Fast water,
Curving round corners,
Tumbling over rocks,
A peaceful place to sail.

Risk your life here other times
When the rain comes,

And the mud slides,
Capsizing boats,
Washing peope
Over the waterfall
And down to the sea.

The Ducks
Water falling,
A beautiful scene,
Gliding fast,
Past green trees,
Crashing down round,
Hard rough rocks,
Where ducks wait
On round rough rocks.
White ducks laying golden eggs,
Goden ducks wil hatch
From golden eggs
Gold as the rarest treasure
The only golden ducks
In all the world
These ducks are hunted.
My ducks.

a water witch smiles

many thanks to the staff and pupils of St Joseph's 
and especially the artists and storymakers of Class 4!

Saturday, 14 September 2019

Frogs rock in purple socks

A summer for frogs
A new Telling Toads poem
or maybe a song....

How has you summer gone? For our amphibian friends it has been a season of mixed fortunes with an early spring and sudden stretches of almost to hot days. We are still waiting for this summer’s numbers but you might like to know that last year, Froglife’s bold Toads on Roads patrols, helped 98,483 toads at 165 different crossing points.

Find out more by following the link. Be inspired! Be a toad-hero!

Or become a frog-friend. You might dig a pond. You might enocureage a bit of long grass, a pile of old wood, a cheerfully dmap corner ina garden or park. Or you might try following the following advice

The Frog Rap!

Have you sat in the shade?
In the leafy glade
Beside the pool
Where it’s nice and cool
And the frog rocks
In his purple socks
On his lily pad stage
Have you sat in the shade?       
Cos I have!
I’ve sat in the shade
In a leafy glade
Beside the pool
Where it’s nice and cool
And I’ve rocked
With the frog
In his purple socks
But I wore yellow!

Jan Hedger

Thanks to Jan for this contribution to our Telling Toads collection and to Marilyn Dougan for the image. The Frog Rap really needs to be spoken out loud, so why not alarm the people next to you by cheerfully reciting this lovely little poem. I feel there should be a dance that goes with it..... Telling Toads sets out to gather new poems and stories celebrating amphibians and reptilesWhy not have a look at the notes about what we are looking for and unleash your inner frogliness across a page or screen…..find out more, here
Photos: c/o G MacLellan

 Watch out for the week at the start of October 
when Creeping Toad takes over the Froglife Twitter Feed for a week

Saturday, 31 August 2019

Words for a summer's warmth

Summer's warmth

words to hold a meadow

Whispers in the Grass, part 3

The summer rolls on, mixing rain with sudden warmth and hot days. The chances to simply sit and enjoy the season feel unpredictable. Grab them when you can!  Maybe we all need “emergency picnic” supplies sat in a box by the door so that on a sudden whim we can drop everything and dash off to stop….

 And when you are out there, take some inspiration from our Whispers in the Grass poets and scribble thoughts and feelings onto a postcard

Two “Fib” poems follow. These collect words and images along the Fibonacci sequence*. For poems, we look for lines with growing numbers of syllables: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 and so on….read them out loud





Whispering meadow,

Grasses, insects, birds, butterflies,

Sweet vernal, meadow foxtail, Yorkshire fog, quaking, rye

Hay bales safely in the barn, stacked away from winter harm, sun compressed to cattle barm

(Andy Collins)

Driving down to Under Whitle

(Sheena Barnes)



Eyes right,

A gorgeous

Muddle of roses,

Hollyhocks, daisies, peonies

And honeysuckle, clematis, fennel and roses

Further down the fruit appears, raspberries and pears, peas and redcurrants summer jewels

Or perhaps, you would prefer a cinquain? Again counting syllables: this time, looking for lines with 2, 4, 6, 8 and a final 2 syllables….

Morning in Dove Valley

(Sheena Barnes)

Mist, haze,

Shifting, drifting,

At times the sun glints, peeps

Through with the blessing of light, warmth

And hope

Whispers in the Grass was a free, public event as part of the Buxton Fringe Festival, supported by Buxton Museum and Art Gallery as part of its BM125 series of events, celebrating the museum’s 125th birthday, and by Borderland Voices (BV) from Leek

And we talked, scribbled, thought, laughed, ate cake and talked some more

A lot of our BV visitors are experienced poets and needed very little to set their thoughts to paper but for others we suggested structures, starting points, inviting people to simply sit and have a go.

Other Whispers poems can be found here and here

*No, I’m not going to launch into an exposition about how the Fib sequence can be found in everything from mystery novels to architecture, to the spiral of a Nautilus’ shell and a sunflower’s seeds*…you can go and find that our for yourselves
*I will say, however, that the series starts with a 0. Difficult to write an empty line at the start of a poem. I like to think of it as a breath that opens the poems, a moment of silence before the words begin

And many thanks, as ever, to our Whispers poets. If anyone feels inspired to create their own poems and wants to share them, I won't promise to publish everything but will read and hope to publish them here. The best email is the Telling Toads one: 
Photo credits: 1,2,3 and 5 are all c G MacLellan 
Photo 4 c/o Borderland Voices and Richard Egan

Dove Valley morning


Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The best days are Bear Days!

Beardays in Buxton

Celebrating the years that something has been standing stuffed but still growling in a museum may seem a bit odd, but “The Buxton Bear” has been a feature of the Museum since its arrival 30 years ago. 

When Buxton Museum and Art Gallery redesigned its Wonders of the Peak galleries in 2017 there was much debate about “whether the bear should go?”.

not a local bear
After all, this is not a local bear (probably a North American Black Bear, maybe a Brown?). It isn’t an established part of the Collection – it was brought in to give the museum a bear in a cave as an example of the excitements of life in the Peak District a few thousand years ago (although at the time, our bears were probably larger and didn’t growl in trans-Atlantic accents). The Bear, however, is well known, well loved (by some), well loathed (by others) and well dreaded by adults who were growled at when they were (presumably) much younger. The Museum just wouldn’t be the same without The Bear rumbling away in a corner.

So, The Bear stayed.

And this year marks 30 years of growling in a corner of the Gallery. We have been celebrating! 

Over the summer, the Museum staff have been encouraging the Bear into new looks. We have seen a Boating Bear, a Wimbledon Bear, a Holiday bear, a Pride Bear.

Bear Bunting - picnic

The Museum’s regular event artists have also been joining in with assorted Bearday activities. There have been bear masks, bear finger puppets, drawing big bears, making cards of small bears, bear heads. On Sunday just gone we had a Teddy Bear’s Picnic out on the Slopes in front of the Town Hall. Here between sandwiches and running around, we made bear badges and bear bunting. There were crowns for teddy bears (and cuddly zebras and pigs). There were Bearday Cards (sorry, Bear, they all went home with the children who made them!) and a general sense of ursine cheerfulness

Bear with a honey diamond*

So if you are in Buxton, please do drop into the Museum and say hallo to our Bear. She (or he? Not quite sure) is definitely one of the family.
cheerful bear mask!

Our Bear Day events were the last of the BM125 events marking the Museum's 125th Birthday

 and thanks to all all our Bear event participants and to Richard Johnson for the original bear line drawings we used for the badges!

*the bear stole a honey diamond from the snail who owned and guarded it....

Sunday, 25 August 2019

From grumblebees to bumblebears

 Past lavender and thyme,
By blue borage we roam,
Following scentways through the air,
Trails to bring lost bumbles home.

"What bee would you bee?" we asked

There were big bees, and small bees. There were humblebees and fumblebees, grumblebees and stumblebees. There were thimblebees (surprisingly large) and even bumblebears – the ferocious bees with the faces of bears who guard a colony from peril.

There were party bees (very bright, with extra glitter) and armybees (well-camouflaged)

Our bees were well pleased with all that they could bee.

As part of Buxton Art Trail, Creeping Toad worked with the Bumblebee Conservation Trust in the Serpentine Community Farm. Over the BAT weekend at the start of July we talked to visitors, invited people to wander and wonder, to enjoy the delightful gardens of the farm, and talk to us about bumbles. There was bumblebee art to examine (ie art inspired by bumblebees, the bees own art is performance related and needs careful watching). There were flowers, cakes, tea and excitements to encounter

The B'bee CT marquee
Slowly, we built a wall of postcards capturing moments from a bumblebee’s world

There were lots of postcards and if your picture has not appeared here – we apologise!

And many thanks to the wodnerful Ruth Evans for the images she let us use - including the strip at the top of this post and the final image below