Saturday, 12 November 2011

old books and curious questions

There's something really special about old books...  I return to them over and over again for inspiration, ideas, nurture and questions.  I've used them in so many projects and with so many groups of people - there's always something waiting to be discovered and different things that creep out of the pages to alert curiosity...

Mostly I keep my old books intact, but sometimes I take them apart to pull out words
and phrases and use them in creating objects and little books.

I've been really inspired by a collection of old books for children about the natural world - and by the information contained within them and the questions the books ask.  Some of that is to do with the use of words, phrases and language that feels very poetic.  Some of it is to do with the sense of trusting young people to be out hunting for bugs, climbing trees, watching the skies, searching under stones, walking through woodland - things that can be lost for children today.  Some of it is because things are hinted at - which  thereby encourages the reader to go and discover for themselves and to use their own imaginations (rather than giving the reader every single step broken down and neatly set out into boxes with outcomes already decided for them).  Some of it is because older books can be so filled with things that make you smile...

Some of the allure is in books I loved as a child - and the smell and textures of paper and print...  Some books provide comfort and become close friends.  Some books give you doorways into other worlds.  Some books make you question things.  Some books linger in your mind for years and years...

And, what is the moon?

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

walks and collections - discovering stories collecting stones

I took this photo some time ago and I refer to it a lot when thinking about ways people interact with landscape.  I love the outlines of the figures exploring the stories in the trees against the winter sky.  It was a walk I remember really well - and how my friends and I rounded a corner and came across these horse chestnuts which stood out so strongly against the deep sky colours as dusk fell.  The trees seemed to be so filled with tales and memories... we really wanted to stop and listen...

sometimes you just can't help collecting stones...

or little hats left on the floor of the woodland...

or maybe you have found a feather with every colour in the rainbow inside it - but the colours are only revealed when you walk around and around it and really look closely...

Sunday, 6 November 2011

exploring shadows

I explore shadows a lot when working with groups, using projections, ourselves, objects, puppets and lots of different light sources.

Creating shadows almost always leads to the creation of stories and descriptions as new things are discovered and familiar objects suddenly take on new meanings.

It also leads to the exploration of movement and sound as these go hand in hand with the visual world of shadows.

Harby Lanterns 2011

Some images I took at this years Harby village lantern event and bonfire on Friday November 4th.  The weather was really calm, with the clouds leaving for a while so that moonlight and stars shone over the village whilst the event was taking place.

The lanterns looked really beautiful - as a big group and individually.  It's such a friendly event and a huge thankyou to everyone that took part and to all those who worked so hard to make such a lovely community event happen.  

Friday, 4 November 2011

looking down low in the grass at the tiny things

One of the things I love when working outside with children is just how many fascinating things they find when looking amongst the grass, twigs, moss and lichen.  They see stories, possibilities and intriguing things all over and are usually really keen to share their discoveries.  Its also something I really love photographing - the tiny things are very special...

and on the subject of candlelight...

Last winter, whilst snowed in at home, I really enjoyed experimenting with the vast amounts of snow in my garden and a set of tea-lights..

I was inspired by Roger Deakins musings about candles and wanted to find ways to explore the colours in the snow.  I was fascinated by just how many colours were illuminated in the snow by the candlelight - and also how this changed at different times of the day / dusk / night...

lanterns, candlelight and colour

I've been making lanterns with community groups for many years - and never cease to be inspired by the magic of candle-light and people coming together for a celebration.

The images above are from the Harby village lantern project which I've been working on for about 5 years; its so wonderful to see how children and adults in the village have explored their ideas each year.  They come to the workshops eager to make lanterns in the shapes of camper-vans, books, globes, kingfishers, worlds of dinosaurs, cup-cakes and so much more...

Its also a community event which feels very full of heart and a sense of family.  There's little light pollution so the lanterns are able to shine out in their own glory.

And there is something so magical and special about candle-light.  Roger Deakin, one of my favourite nature writers, talks about candle-light in his book "Wildwood", quoting Thoreau who said "electricity kills darkness, candlelight illuminates it".

what happens when you watch the leaves fall

In the autumn it feels really important to spend time lying on the ground under the autumn trees and to really look and watch and listen.  I feel lucky to be able to spend time with very young children watching the autumn leaves and discovering new things... are the leaves waving at us?  Are any going to fall as we are watching...?  Is that a bird going past?  What can we hear?  Who can spot a leaf falling?  Can we catch one...?  Can you find a special leaf?

In a session last autumn someone found this acorn leaf with a heart on it.

And a young child excitedly brought me this sycamore leaf - they were really intrigued  by all the spots on it.