Saturday, 23 February 2019

A mermaid on the strandline

A Mermaid Tide

the strandline after events

Beautiful mermaid
The tide washed in at two events in the last week at Buxton Museum. A deep water, wild sea tide that swept into the museum the most surprising array of wonders….

  • A dolphin,
  • A turtle,
  • A cuttlefish with tentacles,
  • A clawfish with poisonous spines,
  • Beautiful mermaids with hair glossy black or gleaming green

I like my undersea creacher because it has stripes like my little sister

There was a mermaid…
She has gorgeous hair and a lovely tail and beautiful tanned skin! What more would you want!

There was
  • Squid the cuttlefish
  • An ancient, toothless Spinosaurus stealing teeth from the sharks,
  • Water crab Spheal, ice water fighting,  a triple powered undersea superhero
  • Miguel, the sea monster from Brazil with his 4 eyes and lots of legs
  • A tiny pink jellyfish whoe stole a girl’s shades when she was swimming because he was sure that shades would make him look cool. They didn’t.

There is a friendly lobster who lives in a castle make of sand with all his family: his Mum, his Dad, his wife and their 6 baby lobsterlets. He runs fast, swims faster and eats seaworms and nips people’s toes when they come paddling too close to that castle built of sand.

a lobster loiters

He’s wiggly and colourful and big and has scales and is very cool
see description above...
There were fish that shimmered like rain in sunshine. There were creeping creatures and flapping rays. There were sharks with smiles wide enough to fit a whole child in. There was an octopus who quietly tentacled away before we could photograph him.

With many thanks to all our artists young and not-so-young for their laughter and cheerfulness and being ready to have a go....
our underwater wildlife films will follow

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

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Burning red fireweed

Global Warriors

Fallibroome Creativity Week, 2019

Crab masks taking shape

At the Beach
storymap and puppets

Have you walked on the sand?

Pink sand and seaweed,

Yellow sand and

Red ribbonweed.

There is red coral under the waves

And rocks and

Light green, square jellyfish.

There are

Pufferfish here

And bubbles,

Giant blue fish

And sharks.

There are

Stones here and shells 
and smiling jellyfish.

There is red fireweed here.

It burns

From Gawsworth Primary School, Year 1

precise drawing!
Every February, Fallibroome Academy in Macclesfield coordinates a Creativity Week with the other schools of the multi-academy Fallibroome Trust. This year’s theme “Global Warriors” produced some wonderful work. At an evening of shared performances, there was a song written by children from all the schools skillfully weaving lines and chants from different schools into a single whole. There were dances, too, and some wonderful drumming, some telling drama and lots of delight. One school was riasing funds towards supporting an orang-utan orphanage in Malysia (hope I've got that right). Others were taking up pledges and working to reduce their own plastic footprints.

One of the strands within the Warriors theme was marine pollution, especially plastic pollution, which is where Creeping Toad came in….I spent a week wallowing in the despair of seas….or not quite. The impact of plastics on marine life set my groups off…..

a fish sees its fate in plastic
As a storyteller, I am often in an awkward situation with modern issues like pollution. There is little comparable in the story-record. Telling tales that have grown over centuries there is not much that directly addresses situations like a whale trapped in abandoned fishing nets. Yes, I know that the underlying principles of respect, connectedness and belonging always apply but that isn’t the point here!

So, as we went through the week, I told old stories and we listened for new stories and tried one school’s stories on the next one I worked with….

"The orca and the angel fish"
We heard about the ray that swallowed a plastic bottle thinking its shining shape was an ailing fish and the rescue attempts that followed by its friend a dolphin and the Doctor Lobster and sometimes by a child with courageous fingers and a long reach.

We recoiled from the misadventures of the school visit to a litter-strewn beach.

We encountered the Genius Fish who was finding ways of processing plastic so fish could use it.

We met the whales who were simply flipping rubbish onto the decks or preferably the heads of passengers of ships who were passing.

We made puppets.
Drew storylandscapes of marine worlds.
Made an unfolding sea.
Created ecologies of plastic creatures.

We had fun.
we entered freshwater - aoxlotl hats!

This post sets out to catch my activities. There will be other posts from individual schools and rumour has it an instagram post from Fallibroome of the Global Warriors song performance which I will add as links as I find them….

a scrap coral reef
Meanwhile, many thanks to all the artists, welcoming teachers 
and enthusiastic schools of the Fallibroome family

Monday, 18 February 2019

Krampus: book review

Krampus and the old dark christmas: roots and rebirth of the folkloric devil

Al Ridenour, Feral House, 2016

ISBN 9781627310345

An adventure into the world of the traditional Krampus: the horned, furred wildman companion of St Nicholas in central ad northern Europe. From the Netherlands Swart Piet to Italian carnivale, Al Ridenour in Krampus and the old dark christmas explores the history of this, and other, exciting figures out of local folk traditions.

The charting of Krampus-like figures across the area is fascinating: a mixture of witches, angels and wandering Saints, meeting multi-horned beastfolk, wooden masks, stuffed animals on ‘table hats”. There are processions in the company of controlling saintly figures, dramas that sound remarkably similar to British mumming plays  and wilder runs where saintly restraint is removed. But they are surprisingly restrained: ferocious characters who are never quite as fiercesome as they seem to be.

Not a Krampus but wanted to be included
The book explores the images of winter characters and their place in local history. It makes for fascinating reading. Ridenour looks with somewhat sceptical eyes at various interpretations of the Krampus and their cousins: considering how 19th Century gathering of folklore to reinforce various theories (eg the brothers Grimm and the desire to find a northern European or Scandinavian root in everything). Then there is the very J G Fraser Golden-Bough-flavoured ancient fertility cults interpretations of the early 20th Century, on through to contemporary pagan desires for Krampus and his cousins to be relics of pre-Christian practice. He sensibly considers all of these and more without coming to his own conclusion but does make a lovely point about why our medieval predecessors should not have simply had a sense of fun and that mischief and glee might have run alongside other ideas in the evolution of the Krampus Runs.

It goes on: there is a lot of information here. It can be confusing reading at times. It feels like there is so much here that one gets lost in a maze ofsaints and saint days and descriptions. A bit like eating too much Christmas cake: an idnviudal mouthful or two is rich and tasty, too much and you need to go and lie down quietly somewhere. Stepping back and trying to get some perspective on its all is tricky.  A table might have been helpful charting Dates, Places and Characters?

Frau Perchte maybe?
Ridenour gathered his information directly: speaking to “performers” and local anthropologists and artists. It would be interesting to see how he felt about work like Alford’s Hobby Horse book (see below). This is good work and a good book. Hard going at times - more because i felt overwhelmed by detail rather than anything else but exciting and tempting and provoking. I know I want Krampus to be embodiments of wild winter and snow on forest trees blowing in from the hills to bring the Wild Hunt. And that is OK. A lot of people might see it as just a bit of fun, others may find something spiritual in their Running, still others may be involved to support local traditions and protect a sense of local disntinctiveness. It can all be true - either now or next as the Krampus traditions continue to grow and evolve

Related books from my bookshelves
Alford, Violet: The Hobby Horse and Other Animal Masks, Merlin 1978 - based on work done much earlier in the 20th Century - fascinating
Brom: Krampus: the Yule Lord ( a novel)
Freger, Charles: Wilder Mann, the image of the savage, Dewi Lewis Publishing, 2012 - beautiful photos
Lake, Matt: Krampus Carols, ancient and modern, Createspace - great fun!
Mallory, Michael: The Art of Krampus, Insight Editions, 2015: image and design from the film "Krampus"

There is a CD
Teho Teardo: Music for a Wildermann: a bit too restrained and classical for my taste: I wanted more big cow bells, drums and maybe some screams and howls…..

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Delightfully scaly, family events in February

 Delightfully scaly

events at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery

February 2019

Two events from shallow pools, glittering meres or the depths of a wild sea....

Thursday February 21st: Mermaids, sea monsters and some friendly fish: 
join us to make quick watery people. You might make a mermaid or a fish or a lobster or some dreadful creature no-one has ever seen before: the choice is up to you. This is a quick and cheerful activity making beautiful shimmery puppets

This event is free and no booking is needed: just drop by and join in - it usually takes 30 - 45 minutes to make one of these puppets
Materials and creative guidance but no salt water provided
When: 10.30 - 12.30
Where: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Rd, Buxton, SK17 6DA
Tel: 01629 533540 
Children under 7 need to bring a grown-up with them and these events are often busy so older children might well appreciate having their own adult nearby, too

Saturday 23rd, Wilder mermaids:  
and then we’d like to invite you to join us for an activity with a bit of fiddling, a bit of care, and a bit more mess, thinking and planning and building as we go to make fiercer, stranger, maybe more beautiful water-people….

When: 12.30 - 3.30pm

Where: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery, Terrace Rd, Buxton, SK17 6DA
Tel: 01629 533540 
Children under 7 need to bring a grown-up with them and these events are often busy so older children might well appreciate having their own adult nearby, too

There is a bit of a Mermaid theme running through a lot of the BM125 activities. You can find out more and see pictures and film and read about our merfolk adventures starting here and following Rob Young's other posts on the Museum blog.

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
Wilder Mermaids is a BM125 event. Other BM125 events are coming for March and April, so watch out for more announcements – there should be minerals, scimitar-tooth cats and some golden treasures. We are hoping that a mermaid tide will come in again in May!