Monday, 30 July 2018

Mischief and a bit of naughtiness

Terrible naughtiness

Making mischievious mischief makers
Who would you make?
What mischief would you brew?
What terrible tale would you tell?
Would it be true?
Summer holiday events with
 Leicestershire Libraries 
ancient mischief was often caused by crows and ravens

Cobweb, who dribbles...
From tying shoelaces together to inviting trolls to live in the ‘fridge
This stick down your back might be a scorpion….
Shampooing with glue
Haunting a wardrobe
Or leaving clockwork teeth under the bed
…there’s always a monster under the bed, can’t you hear its teeth chattering?

Who would you make?
What would they do?
In August, I am doing sessions in 9 Leicestershire libraries, taking Reading Challenge ideas and helping people create their own mischief makers. You might make a puppet of your favourite naughty character from a book, or you might invent a whole new someone...or else has met before. 

"Hallo, I'm really very nice. Sometimes..."
Join me for sessions of storytelling naughtiness. We’ll share wild ideas and terrible people and then make them as quick puppets and perofrm their mischief in instant, improvised puppet shows

The crow who would, the rook who could, the raven who wouldn't, the magpie who DID!

This year’s Summer Reading Challenge celebrates the 80th anniversary of The Beano with its famous mischief makers Dennis, Gnasher and their friends. Follow the link to find out more about the Challenge and sign up at your own library to become part of a nation of mischief-makers!

Leicestershire Libraries: all events need booking. Call the relevant library to book a place or visit the Leicestershire Libraries page on facebook
Date, August
Tel number to book a place
Friday  3rd
Broughton Astley
Main Street, Broughton Astley, Leics, LE9 6RD

0116 3053553

Tuesday 7th
Wanlip Ln, Birstall, Leicester LE4 4JU

0116 305 8756


Upper Church St, Syston LE7 1HR

0116 305 3500

Thursday 9th
Hall Croft, Shepshed LE12 9AN

0116 305 3678


LE65 1HU

0116 305 5917

Friday 10th
Sandown Court, Station Rd, Glenfield, Leicester LE3 8BT

0116 305 3591

Lutterworth Rd, Blaby LE8 4DW

0116 305 3516
Monday 13th
Earl shilton
Wood St, Earl Shilton, Leicester LE9 7NE

Tel 0116 305 8392

George St, Lutterworth LE17 4ED

0116 305 3619

Thursday, 26 July 2018

A wolf in shadow

 Old animals in older caves

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

26th July 2018

As Buxton Museum's contribution to the Festival of Archaeology, we had a morning of working on “cave drawings” and generally being inspired by the animals we find in the bone pits and caves of the Peaks….

We shaped a wolf in paper,
Another stood, a darkness,
A mammoth haired with tissue,
A beaver slaps a card tail,
Newts sport dragon crests and colours,
Bears watch from cave walls and
A painted pug on a stone ledge waits.

Past rabbits, and rams horns, a well-browed moose,
Beyond a horse, reindeer and a rare cave fish,
Shadows hold the silence where the sabretooths wait.

With many thanks to all our artists and their wild imaginations and readiness to improvise and invent new ways of decorating cave walls…. 

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Rippling ribbons of colour

Voices from the hay

 a BM125 event

gathers thoughts, feeling and wonders from an old meadow

An earlier blog described the new BM125 project and the following grows from the first public event there.

With BM125, we are encouraging people to reflect creatively on the connections between the Museum collections and the local landscapes they came from. Wherever we can, we will record those reflections. So here is our first collective poem, growing like a meadow itself from many seeds whispered on the wind or as word-pollen and thistledown blown on the breeze of people’s voices.
There will be a spoken version available soon as well


We sink
Into a field rustling and bustling with life,
Into a froth of grass,
Into a sea of grasshopper sound,
A dream where nothing changes.
The cows sleeping under a willow
Have been resting there for centuries.

Memories are rooted in these meadows,
In the fleeting lives of butterflies,
In nodding seedheads,
In thistledown drifting on a hot breeze.
Farms, families, paths, tools and stories,
All knitted to the earth as tightly as the turf.
Childhood holidays rooted here too,
New names, first meetings,
Stonechats, curlews, those grasshoppers again

The rhythm of a scythe echoes across centuries
They walked where we walk,
Those old farmers on a summer day,
The slice and hiss of a blade and
The whetstone that hones the edge,
Finding shade under these same trees,
Cutting the waving grass from the same sward.

Harebell and cranesbill
Selfheal and tormentil,
Scabious and burnet,

The names are an enchantment
A spell for a meadow,
Whispered on a dusty wind
Colour, scent, pollen and promise,
Foxtail, cocksfoot,
Fescue, vernal and bent,
The rooted and the free,
Meadow brown and large white,
Ringlet and tortoiseshell,

Prayers blown between earth and sky.

Futures are rooted in this rare and ancient place,
Still growing memories
Having fun in the river, catching insects,
A diving beetle!

Knapweed and burnet knod purple heads
Studding the rippling ribbons of colour
Black medick nods, yellow heads in the hot dry grass.
Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place,
Lose the meadow and the memories wither too,
The cows across the field will sleep only in the present. 

And here is a set of small pieces that didn’t quite fit into the larger poem


1. Bumblebees embroider the meadow
Knotting threads with flight paths
Charting by pollen, by nectar, colour coding
Scent-coding, the maps of their lives.

2. Yellow rattle whispers,
Dry and sandy,
Small bones in a bag,
A snake’s angry warning.

3. Bony fingers in the tops of the ash trees
Point a warning to the future

4. Falling sky splinters
Into scabious and cornflower blue,
While tormentil nestles in the grass,
Droplets of sunshine on the green

5. The promise of memories to grow with the hay
The dread of fields empty of hope

With many thanks to all our poets and artists
There will be more BM125 events and posts here and in other blogs and on other platforms from our artists


Sunday, 15 July 2018

Rustling and bustling with life

a sea of grasshopper sound

One field of grass, 

rustling and bustling with life

National Meadows Day

July 6th 2018

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is 125 this year and to mark that anniversary, the BM125 project will bring together experienced with new and emerging artists with 12 months of artistic initiatives (we were hoping for a cake but the weight of the candles and their collective fieriness might prove inhibiting: a cake barbecued by its own candles?)
Over the next few weeks, these new artists will be introduced and the shapes of their work will unfold

Surrounded by a sea of grasshopper sound*

Meanwhile, there is an events programme running through the whole project, again exploring and celebrating the Museum collection and its relationship to the landscapes that collection came from. I am coordinating and delivering a lot of the events work and, as with the artists, the events will be looking for creative elements that can be recorded in some way and posted online. Impromptu puppet shows are planned, storytelling and poetry readings will be recorded, the collection, placing and possibly blowing away of land art photographed….

One field of grass, rustling and bustling with life
Seeds of the future in a rare and ancient place*

The first of these events drew Creeping Toad into a partnership with the DoveValley Centre, South West Peak’s Glorious Grasslands project and Stone and Water’s Summer Excitements events project. National Meadow Day (Saturday 6th July) found us loitering in the dry but beautiful meadows of the Upper Dove Valley, revelling in the sweep of grass, sudden flutters of butterflies and swallows flickering overhead. There were meadow walks and river dipping, insect drawing and book-building. Meadows are part of our agricultural heritage as much as any old farm tools or buildings or ancient farmers. Their use, management, decline and recognition reflect our own awareness of the importance of our agricultural landscapes. You may find old scythes and seed drills in a museum, you may even find a toothless ol’ farmhand, but a meadow needs the earth beneath its roots and the weather that ruffles the grasses. You won’t find a meadow in a museum and they cannot be collected. They can be protected, grown and valued as places where history, culture and wildlife coincide. So, we took the museum to the meadows, inviting visitors to think, reflect and record their thoughts about the importance of such places both to themselves as individuals and within the landscape.

bony fingers on the ash trees are pointing to a sad future

Memories of childhood holidays: learning about flowers and butterflies; seeing birds not seen at home and insects, stonechats and grasshoppers*

A collective, communal-meadow poem as created during the day and will be posted shortly. Then there will be a “make your own meadow-book” post. Keep an eye open for these next posts….

Bumblebees embroider the meadow
Knotting threads with flight paths
Charting by pollen, by nectar, colour-coding
Scent-coding, the maps of their lives*

* samples from words collected during the day
amd many thanks to our spontaneous poets and artists - 
more of your work will follow soon!
twilight slowly claims the fields