Posts Tagged stories

Clay and Cows!

Interesting project starting at the farm creating 1000 cows for Devon Open Studios in September. It should be quite a sight! Of course any connection to Gormley’s A Field for the British Isles is purely deliberate.

I am looking at a mix of cow folk tales and myths from around the world, along with digging up clay from the fields, observing cows closely and modelling cow forms. The pictures come from a session with Newtown Primary’s Year 1s. Such a good sense of concentration! They were a pleasure to work with.

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Full Pot!

Take one very large stew pot, a collection of vegetable stories and an enthusiastic Priory Primary School, mix them all up and finish up with soup for 170, a retelling of stories and four rather beautiful banners.
This was an interesting brief from DAISI to link the SEAL theme of “Good to be me” with healthy cooking and storytelling over two days of workshops. I had a thoroughly good time. We explored how a school is made up of individuals who all have their own special qualities in the same way that a soup is made up of vegetables all with their own stories and properties.


I was impressed with the way Year 1 and 2 chopped, grated, scrubbed and peeled enough veg for the whole school, the Year 6 rap version of the story of Antoine Parmentier, the speaking and singing carrots of Year 6, the retelling of the “Old Woman and the Pumpkin” by Year 3 and 4 and foundation class’ enacting of the “Tortoise the Hare and the Squash Field. So much sharing, creativity and teamwork. Fantastic. I hope to post the lyrics of the two songs soon.
I am intrigued by the way that food and stories can be linked, cooking and telling, sustaining body and mind. I feel I need to get researching and collecting snippets of story and fact to add into the recipe. It can be tricky finding the right stories to enhance and draw out a theme without being too contrived. There is a real lot of learning to do!

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Stories at a Seed Swap!

Exeter Seed SawpThere are sometimes when an event just clicks and the Exeter Seed Swap was one of those times. Held at St Sidwell’s Community Centre. Why was that? The event certainly wasn’t packed with people and the weather was full of drizzle and damp however there was a quality of conversation and interaction that made it come alive. I was there with the Love Local Food stall and to tell some seedy stories 😉 There was a real mix of ages demonstrating that a good story works regardless and the telling was interspersed with questions and discussions. Thanks to Zion for the organising and the image on the left. I am looking forward to planting my turnips and cabbage! Next step wormery …

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Flying Start, Carrots and the Love Local Food Van!

Love Local Food is developing its outreach work with children’s groups exploring vegetables, healthy eating and farms through cooking, creating and stories. I am working with Jo on a series of sessions in partnership with the Flying Start Children’s Centre visiting lots of groups across Central Exeter. Today we braved the snow and ice and dropped in on the St Davids Church Toddler Group. Great fun! It was so good to work with very young children’s attention and interest. Piling up carrots, washing and chopping them, printing, soup making (very welcome on a cold day!) and a little story about the colours of carrots. I am looking forward to seeing this project develop. This is a rather nice image from Wikipedia just in case you thought that all carrots were orange!
Carrots of many colours

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a week of apples

applemanIt has been a good week for apple stories. I have been working with the story of the Appleman, an old Devon tale of two brothers and the care of a farm. A long time ago I worked on an Orchard Project involving stories, puppets and apple names and as part of that created an apple man puppet. 15 years later and that puppet was looking a little worn – well leaves tend not to last that long!! So Monday was repair the Appleman before working with a group of Nursery children who discovered the him up a tree. Tuesday was a reception class from Alphington Primary, pumpkin gathering, soup making and orchard exploring. Saturday out in Mincinglake Valley Park taking part in the Beacon Heath Growing Project‘s apple day. Sunday back to West Town Farm for the annual Apple and Pumpkin day. Very busy! There was the great sight of looking back on a long procession of familes walking from barn to orchard in search of … the Appleman! There is such a tradition of orchards and apples in Devon and so much that has been lost. Apple Days, in their various forms, seek to make a reconnection with tree and fruit and people. Certainly orchards are very beautiful places. West Town’s is a mix of young trees planted just a few years ago still with their chicken wire rabbit guards in place, and old, crooked, lichen covered, rough barked characters well rooted in history and place. However they are working places and seeing the windfalls gathered to be pressed in the barn is a reminder of how land and people work together. apple pressClick this apple press to see the process. (Thanks James!!) The Appleman in the story looks after those who after the trees and it is the older brother, thought by all to be slow and stupid, who shows true wisdom and wins the respect and care of the trees. The message is simple but to bring it to fruition takes work and time and love.

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Stretching stories!!

Merry Go Round How can you stretch a story to suit an audience? Interesting! I had an invite to the Merry Go Round Toy Library’s 10th Birthday party. No idea about the age of audience apart from that they would probably be somewhere between 1 and 70 and that the space would be shared with a great array of toys! In that environment the storyteller can’t say “Time for a story let’s all listen” as that would be stretching the audience too far so the story has to stretch around the space and audience. The process is like fishing, catching attention through using physical story telling, using the engaged audience to become dragons, earth-holding giants and an orchard of golden apples and using interruptions such as the wailing child and the newspaper photographer as parts of the story. The thread of the story has to weave in and out of all of this and that is what makes story telling so very interesting. The story? Well a Greek Myth of course! Heracles and the Golden Apples of the Hesperides! It turned out to be a most enjoyable session. Before that it was Viking tales at Sunbeams after school club! Adventures indeed!

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Eleanor Rigby, Old Misery and tales of change

I have just had an interesting session exploring some story making with a group of 10 year olds. The class are working on songs of the Beatles and seed planting!! This rather nice video of Eleanor Rigby and a subsequent discussion of the lyrics set quite a sombre note which was picked up with the French tale of Old Misery, a cantankerous old lady who is fiercely protective of her apple tree. The children were set the challenge of creating stories which established a feeling of loneliness but then lifted and changed the mood. There were to be no “fluffy bunny” happy endings though! 15 minutes and a lot of talk later we sat down to a series of tales involving friendships broken and reforged, illness, loss, despair and hope! I am hoping to post some of the recordings up on the site. There is something very powerful when such a core theme is opened up and the video and storytelling introduction worked very nicely.

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