I’ve been asked by artist Anne Marie Lagram to respond to her exciting, thought-provoking new exhibition, developed working with the story of Mitchell’s Fold and the witch who is buried there. It’s fantastic challenge to respond to the artwork through story, I’ve really been enjoying watching the pieces develop and questioning my own assumptions about the story.
I’ve been working the English Folk Dance and Song Society as part of their project, The Full English. They have recently completely digitising their huge archive and now it is all online – an amazing resource! The Full English includes all sorts of projects in a wide variety of educational settings to celebrate the access and explore different ways of working with the material.
My project was a collaboration with Queensbridge School, musician John Kirkpatrick and mentee, Beth Gifford. All of Year 7 went off timetable for a week to create a performance based on a ballad printed in Birmingham. Six classes concentrated on different aspects of the performance to create an extravaganza including morris dancing, singing, music, storytelling and drama.
If you would like to read a write-up of the project, please click here. Photos coming soon.
Descriptions of the exercises and games used are here
During the spring term Fiona Collins and I mentored a group of year 9/10 students at Selly Park Technology College preparing them for their Bronze Arts Award. Over a period of weeks the students explored a variety of storytelling techniques and organised a performance of stories and riddles within school. The students all came to the Young Storyteller of the Year Competition on 13th March in Birmingham and either performed in the competition or assisted the judges and took part in the deliberation process. The whole day was brilliant – an excellent opportunity to hear professional storytellers, perform stories in a professional theatres and meet other young people interested in storytelling. All our students have now successfully acheived their Bronze Arts Award.
This project took place at the Bridge School with a core group of 14-18 year old students with moderate to severe learning difficulties. The aim was to create and deliver a project to support students on a creative journey. One week was used to introduce us as artists and our artforms, to introduce the idea of art as a way to explore and question as well as self-expression, to learn and experiment with a variety of artforms and skills, all through the key media of storytelling and visual art. A second week focused on our students giving a storytelling performance developed during the first week to groups of primary school children (with a variety of special needs) and mentoring the primary school children on a one to one basis to pass on some of the visual art techniques learned.
This project was a wonderful success according to artists, staff and pupils. As our key contact, Mandy James, Business and Enterprise Co-ordinator put it:
‘The journey our pupils went on through this project was fantastic. They were provided with strategies to develop confidence, develop their communication skills and become teachers themselves. These young people will remember this project for a long time.’
For more details about this project please click here:
Newport is a town layered with story and memory. The canal remembers busier days crowded with boatmen, Chocolate Charlie bringing pocketfuls of sweets back from Cadburys for the local children and harsh winters of frozen barges. Three fish swim on gates, walls and flags, heading towards the King, leaving prosperity in their wake. You may still catch a glipse in a window of Elizabeth Parker in her wedding dress, waiting all her life and beyond for her fiancee. When night falls, Madam Pigott haunts the roads and lanes watchful of her chance to take revenge on any young men out alone.
Throughout September and October I worked with dancer Rose Gordon and choreographer Bettina Strickler on a fantastic ‘Find Your Talent’ and DanceXchange collaboration to celebrate the history, folklore and people of Newport.
We collaborated with several schools and community groups in Newport to gather, combine, retell and celebrate stories of Newport. The project culminated in a fantastic Hallowe’en performances with two marvellous young storytelling tour guides leading audiences around the Madam Piggott exhibition and a school haunted by ghostly dancers.
This project was a collaboration between DanceXchange, Telford and Wrekin Libraries, and High Ercall and Crudgington Primary Schools. I worked with dancers Emma Burns and Laura Dredger using Shropshire myths and legends to inspire dance with KS2 children.
Working with dance was a new and inspiring process for me. Our sessions were full of experimentation, using rhythms and patterns of words to evoke different atmospheres and tempos that were then interpreted through movement.
The project culminated in a performance at Charlton Secondary School where students from both schools shared their work with each other and a very big and supportive audience!
This was a reminiscence residency lasting nine months, which celebrated the lives and memories of people living around the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct. We included local primary schools at all stages of the process, using our work to inspire the children and empower them to influence the rest of the project. Throughout the project we built up a memory box, which slowly filled with more and more objects, each associated with at least one story. We used the following activities with the children, with great success:
Story detectives: children listened to stories from the memory box and played conversational games. We introduced them to methods of interview technique. Children interviewed each other and members of their families. They brought stories back into class and added new objects to the memory box.
Storyseeds: children chose stories from a selection told from the memory box and we used these as seeds to create a ‘play in a day’: performances of storytelling, dance, drama and music for children, parents, governors and community members at the end of the day.
Storywalks: we took various community groups including the Country Park Junior Rangers Club on walks around the area, telling stories gathered from the community in sites associated with the stories.
‘Pontcysyllte Memories’: the project concluded in a book of reminiscences published by Tempus Publishing. We held a grand book launch next to the aqueduct with the mayor of Wrexham presenting each contributor with a copy of the book. The youngest contributor to the book was nine years old. As part of the celebration, children told stories with the aid of the memory box to audiences including the mayor.