Some Projects 2001-2002
A Season of Wonders
The summer months of 2002 saw Creeping Toad in workshops all over the country, inviting people to join in the wild and wonderful with everything from Bog Books and Bog Beasts to Animal Hats, Banners, Birds of Paradise and even a processional Rain Forest River at Kew Gardens. Clients included Hall i’th’Wood Museum, Bolton; Scottish Natural Heritage; the Holly Lodge Centre in Richmond Park, Surrey (promoting access and enjoyment of the park with groups with a wide range of special access and educational needs); South Somerset Play Association; New Mills Jubilee Festival and the Friends of Kew Gardens.
Images here are from 10 workshops for children at Kew Gardens in August.
Pathways to Pilsbury, April – June 2002
In Dovedale on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border, the grassy hilltop remains of Norman Pilsbury Castle have spent many centuries in quiet retirement. The last couple of years have seen increasing activity, however, as the PATHWAYS TO PILSBURY project drew local Dovedale people into investigations of their castle.Through achaeological studies and research through written and vernacular tradinitons, a picture of the castle’s growth and demise has been built leading to a final exhibition and public open day to celebrate both the castle and the prople of Dovedale.
Creeping Toad was brought in for the final stages of the Pathways project to work with children from Longnor and Earl Sterndale Primary Schools to create a dramatic performance inspired by life in the castle in its heyday. While other schools worked with other artists on a modern heraldic banners, a long story banner and colourful well-dressings, the drama groups created characters, revealed unguessed life stories, wove patterns of relationships, power and gossip and brewed a wonderful adventure.
On June 22nd 2002, Pilsbury Castle burst back to life and among many other activities on the day, the story of the Pilsbury Pheasant was told with magical pearls, villainous Norman ladies, heroic grubby Saxons, honour, courage, scheming and rebellion…
Wild About Leominster 2 (November-December 2001)
Organised by the Herefordshire Nature Trust and the Riverside Millennium Green Trust: a second escapade among the people and wildlife of Leominster. Working with a theme of “trees”, we met the ancient trees of the Priory Church and talked to the saplings that had just been planted on the new Millennium Green. Out of these conversations came masks, giant fruit rattles, storytelling, lantern- and banner-making, puppets, giants, poetry and plays. The Festival culminated in a spectacular procession through the middle of Leominster and a performance where 3-metre tall Grandmother and Grandfather trees met young saplings and told them of the excitements, fears and delights of long life as a tree. Many thanks to Andy and Nicola from the Trusts, the staff and children of Leominster Junior School, Leominster Infant School, Ivington C of E primary School, our wonderful musicians and Jo Crow.
Gwersyllt Community Celebration, Alyn Waters Country Park, Wrexham (10 days in October 2001)
Laughing our way through autumn with stories, willow leaves and lanterns, animal masks and giant tree people, all combining to weave a strangely enchanted closing performance. The Birch Tree princess is due to get married but she is shy, she has lost her groom, she is being stalked by a jilted boyfriend, her doves are dallying with the crows and there is a great big red snake curling through the trees…
May Tree Infant School, Southampton (October 2001)
A gentle exploration and celebration of the plants and wildlife of the school’s grounds with hats, puppets, banners and dance.
Kew Gardens (August 2001)
Workshops for the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens that took us from puppet making as “Hidden Gardeners”, buzzing through giant insects to perch and fly, to “Underwater Worlds” where a rainforest river took shape as plants, fish and other animals on participants’ heads.
Richmond Park (August 2001)
Working at the Holly Lodge Centre to broaden the use of the park and promote access to and creative use of the Park across the community.
“Make your own Coffin”, Castle Museum, Nottingham (July 2001)
Coinciding with an exhibition of beautiful carved Ghanaian coffins came this delightful day of miniature coffin-making. We designed the coffins that we would like, that would display the thrills of our lives, the most dramatic or significant features of our characters or just our favourite things, and shaped their caskets from cardboard and cast their sculptured lids in plaster. There were also coffins for hamsters, goldfish and stick insects…
The Great Books
The stories that we tell about the places where we live shape our relationships with those places… so we went story-making. With three village schools on three different projects, we sent people to find their own places, their hideaways, their secret sites and picnic lawns. Then together we shaped stories, tales that explained the atmospheres of those places: stories that caught the specialness of the neighbourhood. Our adventuring did not stop there, as then we made paper and upon that paper wrote and painted the stories of those places. For each group, the individual pages were sewn together to make a large, leather-cloth bound book. And out of all those stories, we chose just a few to perform: working with masks, drama, music and storytelling, the groups prepared performances that introduced the rest of their schools, their families and their communities to the tales that describe “our home”.
- National Trust (2 books) and Cheshire Countryside Services (1 Book), 1999
A Children’s Perspective of Philip’s Park, Bolton Wildlife Project (summer 2001)
The ups and downs, the wildlife, history and landscape, the secret places, strange stories, and favourite corners of a large city park in north Manchester, seen through children’s eyes. Out of these investigations came an exhibition of children’s work and a full colour publication of the exhibition pieces… a celebration of interpretations of their environment and a community consultation revealing what people value in their local park, how they use it, what their hopes for it might be.
The Scent of Bluebells
Creating a celebratory performance for the formal opening of a community woodland at Paddock Wood in Kent, May 1999.
LEAF: the Local Ecology and Arts Festival, Christchurch, Dorset
A mixture of school and general public workshops to make lanterns for a procession, make giant animals to lead a bike ride, tell stories, and decorate some of the 1500 bikes that go ringing their way through the town in a celebration of local people, local wildlife and sustainable living, May 1999 and 2000.
The Irk Valley Parish Map, Manchester 2000
A project with Groundwork Manchester and residents from Collyhurst and Harpurhey districts, to create an emotional map of their neighbourhoods: a map of impressions, memories and responses to new developments. The final piece was a framed, 3-D collection of faces, words, models and patterns about 1.5m square.
Wild About Leominster Festival, September 2000
A week of school and public sessions: telling stories, preparing for a procession of Leominster wildlife through the town (wildlife worn on people’s heads!) making giant leaves and lanterns and devising, rehearsing and presenting a puppetshow capturing the hidden life of Leominster, the small people who live, all unknown around us, who add a touch of mystery and excitement to familiar places.