Sunday, 8 November 2009
Finally had a solitary day in the church. A dim and damp autumn day only brightened by the orange and yellow leaves outside and a momentary visit by a family who happily used the rubbing materials I had handy to record the beloved brass knight. Many things about this old place have started to get under my skin. Evidence and layers of unknown people, building styles and mysterious marks spark curiosity. The church seems to be a crossroads for echoing voices. What voice will we leave, who will hear us in 100 years? What knots will we leave in the weave of history? Outside, nature has quickly reclaimed the markers of the past. Beautiful, abstract patterns are dissolving the gravestones that strain to keep their message heard. I am interested in Malthus's message regarding population control. What would have made him consider this problem in an era and area where the density of people was far from critical? I also am drawn to the font stone, a Roman relic borrowed from Farley Heath–it seems every era must make do and mend but how did they move it? The shape is universal, the are markings unique.
Monday, 19 October 2009
First in was Shere Infant School on 5 October. The children hardly needed encouragement to draw on their section... they were all over their 10 meter strip of paper (or should I say Tillingbourne) in no time. Did you know the river has mermaids? It does now. Then on 8 October 15 kids from year 5 at Tillingbourne Junior school dove into their section. An enthusiastic and inquisitive bunch, they filled the paper in half an hour before moving on to the chapel to sketch Pugin designs.
The Big Day (10 October) was brilliant. Many kids came back with parents to have a look and another draw, including a big scribble and rubbings of the Weston Brass on the floor. We had about 60 people and Stephanie and Monica served tea and biscuits so everyone took their time. Some people had just come by to see the church and were confronted with children and parents sprawled all over the floor pens in hand. I was so busy chatting and helping everyone that I didn't have a go-must go back on my own. The river paper grew and grew, it looked fantastic hanging up and spurred everyone on. We decided to leave it up for a week or so. Great day!
Thursday, 1 October 2009
What a lovely day we had. The sun was with us and everyone was full of energy (even the mums who came along to help). Out half hour walk from school to church turned into 1 and a half as we made many stops to explore...a gnarly tree for fairies, a secret tunnel, pheasant darting about. Amazingly no one complained, even though some carried lunch boxes all the way. It all went quiet for a few moments as we entered the massive wooden door. How wonderful to see this ancient place full of curious children! We started by talking about the senses and tested each one (well, except for smell) in a different area. Dull & bright colours, rough & smooth surfaces, listening for sounds. The tower provided an area to test our sense of distance by measuring how many children it would take to stand on shoulders to the top. First we tethered a helium balloon to the cross beam and then my able assistant Amy became our measuring stick. As we pulled down the balloon string, we measures only 11 Amys, a surprise as someone guessed 60. We looked at clues of hidden stories like the brass of Sir John Weston on the floor and the faded painting on the wall above it. There was great excitement as shoes came off to go into the chapel that we had gained special access to. The shards of light scattered on the floor from the Pugin stained glass windows seemed magical to everyone. They had a chance to go up on the small alter and several asked about the piscina openings in the wall (where sacred chalices were washed). In fact the chapel stimulated the most questions. After an idyllic lunch on the grass we went back inside to take photos, do rubbings and talk about the space. That was a week ago, tomorrow I'll go to the school so we can explore ideas about what we want to make/do there for November 20 (International Children's Day). We'll start some scrap books, do some collages and get our imaginations moving.
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Although it seems like I've been working on this project for months, officially I start at the Saxon Church on Monday the 21st. I'm so pleased the committee have agreed to let me do this (thanks John, Daphne, Roy & Stephanie). I adore this building and know it will challenge me to dig deep and think big. It will include many firsts including running children's workshops but I'm especially excited about this – their openness and energy is infectious. I have a feeling working with them will open my eyes to other approaches to my work. The Big Draw preparations are underway–publicity takes so much time but is so necessary to get enough people in. I love the idea of everyone collaborating on a 25 meter sheet of paper representing the Tillingbourne river! Not sure what will work best on the day so we've planned several activities including a Pugin window colouring-in sheet. The kiddies from Shere will start their project on Friday so lots to prepare (in my head mostly) to tease out their imaginations. Bit of a shame I didn't get the Arts Council Grant but it doesn't take away from the value of the project.