Gawain

November 2018

a dragon waits…

There was a long dark forest,

wicked woods, wild, wind-blown and whistling woods,

Where twirling leaves trembled on tall, terrifying trees,

With treacherous twigs to tempt you to a terrible fate

We are having a wintry Gawain and the Green Knight season this month

wooden spoon royalty

a new friend, or a new foe?

The Sir Gawain project saw a lively and successful weekend. There was painting, a new artwork from Sue Prince (with mass community participation, paintbrushes and pennies), walks, talks and excitements from Clive Foden, and  some 40 people, and more, joining us (Stone and Water, Creeping Toad, and Sarah Males) on Saturday to make a cast of medieval characters on wooden spoons at the Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek

I am also working with the children of St Bartholomew’s C of E Primary School, Longnor, and Manifold C of E Academy, Warslow, to write the further adventures of Gawain. These are taking shape in exciting and unpredictable ways and now we are making puppets to animate our narrative poems….

But the long road home was waiting

A perilous path through the wild wastes

Where a wild wood grew over the hilltops

Through the dales

There were terribly twisty trees

Where owls rested on the branches

And wary wolves watched from the shade 

 

There were robbers in those woods

But fighting fierce foxes and

Struggling bravely to battle big, bad badgers

Gawain finally made it through the fierce forest

(Manifold)

enchanted forest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Through the woods in safety

Gawain stopped by a cool, relaxing pool,

The home,

But he did not know it

Of mysterious mermaids,

secretive mermaids

Who can sing, or scream, as loud as trumpets

Mean as monsters

Swift as snakes,

With claws as sharp as sharks’ teeth

They would drag you down, down to the depths

Down to your drowned death 

the Mermaid Pool at Blakemere

And of those mermaids there was one

Who had once asked the fairies of the forest

For a friendly favour, a wild and wonderful wish,

To become the most mysterious, the most marvelous,

The most powerful mermaid,

Ever 

 

Gawain rested by the water,

trailing his tired toes in

The cool refreshing water

When he felt a tug on his leg,

A hand pulling him into the dark water,

And down, down, down….

(Longnor)
So many people to thank here – all those artists, puppeteers and poets and Borderland Voices  who are coordinating my Gawain workshops in the schools

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Summer events and other excitements!

Leek: once again
New display and event moments

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Our Leek: once, now and next project has been a great success. From a “Birthday Party for a Lost Abbey” to far more sensible history talks, embroidery and appliqué sessions and a pop-up street from the lost years of Leek, project ideas and activities have engaged and excited visitors

Now we have a few last sessions and a few opportunities for some more….

Come and join us!

eventful times in Leek: once

eventful times in Leek: once

May 2015:
all month the spectacular Cope for a Lost Abbot will be on display in the foyer of The Green Man Gallery in Buxton (check out the Gallery’s website for opening times)*

23, 24, 25th May: our exhibition of work and activities from the project will join the Cope on display in the The Green Man Gallery. Beautiful photos reaching from Leek, once (ruins, memories, dreams) to Leek, now (visitors capturing their own ideas, participants working on projects) with opportunities for you to add your thoughts of Leek: next

Sunday 24th May: Princely Pennants and Princess Flags: 1 – 4pm, The Green Man Gallery: join us to design your own summer flag. Invent a Coat of Arms. Create monsters for brave knights and bold heroines. Add an image to our Wild Pennant. Free event: just drop by and join in but allow 30 minutes for your flagging. Children under 7, need to bring a grown-up with them. Materials provided. The mess you make yourself

once upon a time in the High Peak

once upon a time in the High Peak

Wednesday 27th May: The Lost Castles of Buxton; 10 -12, 1- 3, Buxton Museum. The Display will be up again in the museum and we’ll be inviting you to step back in time and make the house you think, hope, or worry, that you might have lived in when Dieulacres Abbey was at its height and Leek was the focal point for trade, travel and villainy across the Moorlands. Free event. No booking needed. Children under 7, need to bring a grown-up with them. Materials provided.

June 2015
Sunday 7th June: The Big Bird, Beast and Botany Hunt, Dove Valley Centre, 12 – 4 pm. Our display and our artists head back into the Staffordshire Moorlands for an afternoon at the delicious Dove Valley Centre. Tucked into the Upper Dove Valley, the Centre welcomes visitors to the start of summer with wildflower meadows, an orchard, explorations of river wildlife and a generally lovely afternoon. We’ll be there with summer flags and stories, encouraging you to capture summer on a fluttering pennant or brand a story-hero or adventure-horror on a flag for yourself

Would you like a session?
We have a bit of water here at the bottom of the well to offer other groups. If you  are interested in a session for your local group (Staffordshire Moorlands, High Peak, Derbyshire Dales), get in touch! We could come and do a lively “making” workshop, a careful sewing/applique/fabric painting session, tell stories or just talk to your group about what we have been doing.

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Email Gordon at creepingtoad@btinternet.com or call on 07791 096857

* The display (and especially the Cope) features work by groups from our project partners Borderland Voices so if you would like to see some BV achievements, here is another reason to come and visit us!

Leek: once, now and next is supported by:

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Who is helping?

Who is helping?

Workshops in Leek: once, now and next are gathering momentum

We’ve been telling medieval stories and designing modern reliquaries on Apple Day at the Dove Valley Centre

Apple Day 3

Groups at Borderland Voices have been illuminating their own manuscripts

work has already started: illuminations

work has already started: illuminations

working on a new Cope, mixing traditional medieval motifs (saints and Biblical scenes)with modern issues – who are the contemporary heroes we should respect and incorporate into a new cope.

Low-cope workshop

Low-cope details

youth groups have started decorating tiny Abbey lanterns and designing their own Rose Windows

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All these events will feed into later ones – take a look at the events list – and come and join in somewhere!

This work is being supported by a whole moorlandfull of sponsors

Workshops led by Borderland Voices are being supported by

Staffordshire County Council Arts

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Churnet Valley Living Landscapes

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Lloyds TSB

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Your Moorlands

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Workshops coordinated by Stone and Water are being covered by an Awards for All grant

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Thanks to all these organisations!

Without your help, none of these challenges, excitements,                                                                                              discussions and inspirations would be possible!

Unrolling Leek!

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Unrolling Leek!

on a long piece of paper!

Saturday 18th October

2 – 4 pm

Foxlowe Arts Centre

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Enjoying October’s Big Draw theme with events running across the country, we’ll be drawing all your favourite places in Leek on one huge piece of paper. Whether you like Brough Park or the Foxlowe, or both, or William Plummer’s anchor memorial, that strange old house down the road, the Market Place on market day to your own back garden, everywhere works!

who knows the secret places of the town?

who knows the secret places of the town?

The long frieze will stay with our team and contribute to the Birthday Party for a Lost Abbey event on Saturday 25th (details will follow!) so if you’d like a small piece of Leek to take home, we’ll make pop-up cards of your favourite places

Saturday morning there is another Leek: once, now and next event in Leek Library so why not join us there for some stories before an afternoon of scribbling! Old stories, new adventures

At the same time, our friends from Borderland Voices will be inviting people to add words to our pictures, growing lines, and patterns and poems alongside drawings and shaping Leek through poems and paragraphs…

Details

Date: Saturday 18th October 2014

Time: 2 – 4pm: free, no booking needed, just turn up and join in – but we’ll say “no new participants” after 3.30

Where: Foxlowe arts Centre, Market Place, Leek, ST13 6AD

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Leek: once, now and next, Events

Events in October

a month of livelinesses

one of the few surviving carvings from Dieulacres

one of the few surviving carvings from Dieulacres

Events list

(all events are free, no booking is required but if numbers get too big we may have to ask you to go and have a find yourself of cake somewhere for a little while)

 

roasting apples in an Apple Day fire

roasting apples in an Apple Day fire

Sunday 12th: Apple Day, visit this farm in the Upper Dove Valley for an autumn day of orchards, fruit recipes, art and stories and a chance to explore this beautiful landscape, its animals and plants

Time: 11am – 3.30pm

Where: Dove Valley Centre, Under Whitle, between Sheen and Longnor

 

Friday 17th: Stitching time: join our artists and add your own panel to the new Cope for the Lost Abbey. Images of ancient saints and modern heroes lie side-by-side on this community cloak. With fabric and felt, wool, silk, thread, beads and sequins: no experience is needed!

Time: 1 – 3pm

Where: Silverdale Library, Newcastle: High St, Silverdale, Newcastle ST5 6LY, 01782 297444

 

Saturday 18th: Old stories, new adventures! Join our storyteller to listen to old tales of the Moorlands: of giants and mermaids and magic and monsters! Create your own stories about life and adventures in Leek

Time 10am – 12noon

Where: Leek Library, Church St, Leek

 

maidens. knights, horses and horrors...the delights of medieval stories!

maidens. knights, horses and horrors…the delights of medieval stories!

Saturday 18th: unrolling Leek! a Big Draw event, we’ll be drawing all your favourite places in Leek on one huge piece of paper: from Brough Park to the Foxlowe, from William Plummer’s anchor memorial to your own back garden, everywhere works!

Time: 2 – 4pm

Where: Foxlowe Art Centre, Market Place, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6AD

 

Thursday 23rd, Ladydale Well, the Leek Ladder and other marvels: a talk by archaeologist Mark Olly. A chance to meet the more mysterious side of the town, join us to think, wonder and speculate

Time: 7.30 (finishing about 9 – 9.30), refreshments provided

Where: Quaker Meeting House, Overton Bank

Leek ST13 5ES

 

Saturday 25th, Birthday Party for a Lost Abbey! make a small monk puppet, write a poem, listen to stories, wonder at the Abbey Lanterns, add your own visions for the future of Leek – an afternoon of activities and creativity will lead to the unveiling of the Cope and the formal cutting of the Abbey Birthday Cake

Time: 2 – 6pm

Where Foxlowe Art Centre, Market Place, Leek, Staffordshire ST13 6AD

 

Tuesday 28th, Ancient Adventures: To celebrate Leek’s ancient history: come along and make your own medieval castle or pop up abbey – and add some tiny puppets to tell some ancient tales!

Time 10am – 12noon, 1.30 – 3pm: drop in, allow yourself 45 minutes to make something!

Where: Leek Library, Church St, Leek

 

Wednesday 29th, Dieulacres Abbey – Leek’s vanishing heritage. A talk by local historian Michael Fisher: find out about the history of Leek’s lost abbey!

Time: 7.30 – 9

Where: Foxlowe Arts Centre

 

Thursday 30th: Ancient tales, modern adventures: storytelling, story making, art: what adventures can we invent for the trees, animals and children of Brough Park?

Times: 10 -12, 1 – 3

Where: Brough Park: Vicarage Road Car Park or walk in and find us under a tree in the middle of the Park!

 

For more information, contact 01298 77964

work has already started: illuminations

work has already started: illuminations

 

 

 

Leek: once, now and next

Leek: once, now and next

Seal

Dieulacres seal

800 years ago, Ranulf of Chester moved a Cistercian Abbey from Poulton in Cheshire to Leek. For the next 300 years, until its Dissolution in 1538, Dieualcres (“may God increase”) was a force to be reckoned with in the hills and moors of the western edge of the Peaks. They became one of the wealthiest abbeys in the midlands and were notorious for keeping a band of armed men who weren’t quite marauders but were used by the Abbot ‘to do all the mischief they can to the people in the county of Stafford and that they have lain in wait for them, assaulted, maimed, and killed some, and driven others from place to place…’

Sometime in the 14th century, a scribe (or scribes) in an abbey – that might well have been Dieulacres – wrote, or transcribed, or edited from earlier sources or maybe just made up, the story of Gawain and the Green Knight that was to become a classic of Old English literature

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Gawain: a puppet from a version of Gawain performed in Flash a few years ago

And now it is gone. Dieualcres was dismantled, its stones spreading through the growing town. Carvings were incorporated into the buildings of what is now Abbey Farm. A hermitage stands just off the lane to the farm. A rose window gifted by the abbey shines in one of the Leek churches….

But once, Dieulacres was one of the most important institutions in the midlands and made Leek a focal point for the land around.

Leek:once, now and next is using this 800th birthday of the Abbey that isn’t there any more as an opportunity to celebrate Leek’s past, present and future

croxden

the ruins of Croxden Abbey – another centre for the Citsercians in Staffordshire

Public events will lead to a birthday part in October 2014. There will be

  • Abbey Lantern making with youth groups
  • sewing a new Abbot’s Cope using medieval and modern imagery to made a fabulous garment
  • opportunities to darw the skyline of Leek along 10 metres of paper
  • the chance to make your own pop-up abbey
  • an invitation to listen to stories of medieval life
  • to plan the town you’d like to live in….
  • lots to do!

Keep an eye on this blog and local press for event details

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This is a joint project between Stone and Water (using an Awards for All grant to explore Leek: once, now and next) and Borderland Voices (drawing on other funds to delve deeper into the Abbey legacy)

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