So i have just finished reading Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking”. Its got me pretty excited about the whole nature of what it means to be an artist. For those who don’t know about her music or what wonderful stuff she has been up to i would highly recommend watching her Ted Talk video. Ive always been a fan and have followed her music for years but the Ted talk kind of blew me away and i felt so overwhelmed that someone is speaking (loudly) about the issues that all kinds of artists face everyday. In the book and the talk she makes a big reference to her days performing as a human statue. She points out that what she learnt on the street practicing human statue underpins her success as a musician, business person and crowd funding legend. So in a nut shell its inspired me to speak out about the craft of a human statue. What its like to be and know many people who do this for a living. The frustrating thing is that when you search for articles on human statue you come across some really one sided arguments written by journalists who want to “expose the freaks” so to speak. They generally highlight a lot of the downsides to statue-ing and not enough of the life affirming great lessons you learn when statue-ing. When little girls drop sentimental gifts in your hat and a lady hands you £20 because “its raining and i know how hard you people work”. All of these articles are written from the journalists point of view not the artists. So statues its time to speak. Lets get together and make something that we can share with the world. To educate those on what its really like to make this craft work. Lets create an honest portrayal about an art form directly from the artists who craft it themselves. Myself and a group of artist friends are going work on this purely for our own satisfaction and artistic development, so stay tuned and keep an eye out for the video. It will be one to watch, we will follow the likes of Madam Matronic a good friend who makes a full time living from Statue-ing in the Midlands. Pay a visit to The University of Winchester where we first learned the skill of Statue-ing on the Street Arts Degree from Olu Taiwo a senior lecturer at the University and a former human statue. And talk to other statues with a focus away from Covent Garden as its covered so heavily already. Lets discuss how this art form can contribute to society, teach us many beautiful lessons about the power of “asking” not “begging”, having faith in your audience and connecting with people on a personal level. How doing this weird job can be incredibly rewarding and uplifting. Don’t worry though it wont all be sunshine and rainbows, im sure the conversation of being poked, prodded and spat at will come up (for those who are into that)
IDUZ Photography, West Midlands, Madam Matronic
The White Lady, Truro, Hotch Potch Performance
Whilst reading imagine you are in a little dining room being served tiny tea and cakes, whilst a talented harpist serenades your visit!
To begin this story I must tell you a little bit about myself. I Doris have spent most of my life searching for little folk. You know Piskies, fairies, leprechauns, sprites, spriggins whatever you want to call them. Over the years I have become an expert on little folk found all around the world. I have searched caves, coves cracks, the end of rainbows, up tree branches and down mouse holes. Because I know they’re real and I’ll tell you why. When I was a wee girl I had a dolls house. It was extraordinary. It was a big old traditional Victorian house that my great great great great Grandmother had passed down. The detail inside the dolls house was something else. There was a tiny kitchen with all the things a regular sized kitchen would have, the bathroom had towels and tiny soaps and the bedrooms; all the appropriate furnishings and even tiny clothes hanging up in the wardrobe. I loved it so, but my mother would never let me play with it. “Its not a toy” she would yell as I sat down every morning hoping to introduce my tattered dolls to the wonderful house. After months and months of attempting to play with this dolls house I eventually grew tired of my mother scolding me every time and just gave up. Then one morning before school I was gathering my things and I heard a very soft and quiet sneeze coming from the dolls house. It was so quiet that at first I thought it was just my mind playing tricks on me, but never the less I proceeded over to the house and sat down in front to have a look. I couldn’t see a thing but as I inspected closely I discovered the little kitchen was a terrible mess, the dishes were piled up, food was splattered all over and there were various different pots and pans with a strange green goo inside them. Before I got the chance to comprehend what I had just seen my mother was pulling me by the hand and pushing me out the door “time for school” she yelled and slammed the front door. All day in school I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had seen in the dolls house in that little kitchen. Who and what were living in my great great great great grandmothers dolls house and what were they making? I dared not tell anyone in school that day, because I knew what I saw but I could hardly believe it myself. I rushed home that afternoon and sat down at the dolls house. The little kitchen – now spic and span was looking even tidier than before, all the dishes had been washed and put away and the floor was spotless, nothing remained except a wee bowl with a tiny note attached. I quickly snatched up the bowl and note and took it to my room. I had to dig out my magnifying glass to read the note as the hand writing was ever so small. It said “rub this ointment on your eye lids to see more clearly” Strange I thought, but being the impressionable child I was I rubbed a bit on each eye lid. When I opened my eyes I felt much the same but I gradually started to see more and more little folk around my bedroom there were little people no bigger than my finger climbing up my bed linen, hanging off the light, making little beds in the pockets of my clothes and racing around with my toy cars and trains. I couldn’t believe it there were little people everywhere. I rushed outside of my house into the garden and would you believe it, there were little people running along the washing line, making tiny little houses in the trees and even flying around on birds backs. I walked around for hours just speechless and amazed by how clever they were. Eventually the ointment wore off and the little people began to fade. I couldn’t see them anymore but I knew they were real it’s just that our eyes can’t see them. I rushed back to my room but on the way to my horror I passed my mother in the kitchen washing up the wee bowl that had the ointment in it and the little note was on the top of the rubbish bin. “Nooo” I cried “What have you done….my magic ointment” She peered at me very confused and carried on washing up. I ran to my room, so upset I stayed there all evening sobbing away. Eventually I cheered myself up realising that the little people must have wanted me to see them to make and leave me the ointment with the note. That night I made a plan, I decided from then on I would devote my time to learning more about little people and began my long journey with the hope that one day I would be able to see them again. I travelled the world discovering that each culture had little people of their own. Of course what I really wanted to discover was how to make that magic green goo that made me see the little people. I travelled far and wide when I came to Cornwall – a land which has a wealth of mythological beings particularly little folk and giants. I discovered here in Cornwall that to make the magic ointment one must collect four leaf clovers in the full moon for the potion. There are a few other things that must be added……ah but I cant share those with you….. that would be telling a little too much. And I have spent my life trying to get the potion right… im almost there a few more full moons and im sure I will have it. Of course on my travels I did discover some other ways to see the little folk and one that some people believe is to eat and drink the tiniest of portions of every day meals .For to see a little person you get inside the mind of a little person. For they have a great way of life and we could learn a thing or two from them. What we see as small an insignificant they see as a treasure- a crum to us is a meal to them. So as we send you back into the big world don’t forget to look out for the little things in life, because sometimes they are the most important.
A short story from our show Café Petite.
The Legend of The Long Tall Butler
Now we know many stories of giants, around these parts we are led to believe that giants are responsible for creating the likes of stone circles, huge rock pathways and big mounts way out to sea- just off our peninsula. Unfortunately Giants of the past havnt had a great reputation. They were known to wipe out farmers livestock within minutes, wreak havoc all around and even gobble up little children. But this story is not just about a torturous giant but one who wants nothing more than to help other people. This is the legend of the long tall butler- and how he came to be.
Our butler- although its hard to imagine was never given a name for he was born into this world alone. His father was the legendary giant Cormoran. Cormoran was a horrible man who lived up to all the beastly expectations of a menacing giant, He was mean to the core and the people of Cornwall were all terrified of him. One day Cormoran decided he would build a fortress for himself which is now known as St Michaels Mount. This would allow him to keep watch over the people of Marizon and Penzance- it’s no surprise he had made a lot of enemies. Legend has it he had his wife Cormelian carried rocks on her back for miles to build St Michaels Mount. Now Cormelian was a bit of a mystery for she had a kind soul and people say she was a wonderful baker. She would magic up the most delicious and enormous cakes laced in soft and fluffy cream and icing. She was especially good at the Victoria sponge and was never hasty with the jam. Children would come running from miles just to gaze at a cake, of course they could never get close to the huge cakes which were the size of a bus- as Cormoran was always looming nearby. One day a brave young boy from the local village decided he was going to put Cormorans torturous ways to an end. He set a trap at the base of St Michael’s Mount- a huge hole for the giant to fall into. There are many of different rumours about how Cormoran was killed but to tell you the truth a little bit gruesome at this time of the day, so we wont get into that. What we do know for sure is that he was gone for good and his terrorising was now over. What the local people didn’t know was that his wife Cormellian was with child and just as Cormorans life was coming to an end his own son was being brought into this world. The story goes that because Cormoran died this broke the magic spell that kept them so huge and strong and Cormellian began to get smaller. She got small enough for a seagull to fly off with her. In fact she was so tiny that no one saw the little baby that was clinging to her fall from the sky and into the sea. Now although we are led to believe that killing Cormoran had broken the magic spell. With new life comes the strength of a miracle and whatever magic was still in the air must have been caught by the little baby because he took to the water just like a fish- he had unusually long legs, which aided his swimming well. He swam the whole coast of Cornwall for years- befriending dolphins and basking sharks. He eventually grew to be a bit of giant himself but luckily his temperament was nothing like his fathers, he was gentle and kind but lonely and longed to be with people and of course find out who he was and where had he come from. When he finally resurfaced and made a home for himself in Penzance the local people were wary of him as they could see the resemblance of his late father. When they saw him coming they would look up at him with fearful and concerning eyes. You see our Butler was nothing compared to the size of his father but he was still a giant of sorts and the local people knew he wasn’t of their kind. After trying to fit in for so long he decided to take to the sea again. For he had many friends deep under water who were hoping he would soon return. One night as he walked towards the prom in the light of the moon, he overheard some sailors who were gathered in a nearby ale house. They were telling stories of mean old giants and mentioned that they had seen a strange character around town who very much resembled the meanest giant of all Cormoran. Our Butler raised an eyebrow and towered over to the building- he needed to know more. He perched himself on a nearby wall and listened closely as the sailors drank the night away- they swapped stories about Cormoran and how he destroyed the land and gobbled up sheep and cows. He couldn’t understand how his own father could be so menacing but he learned that he had a mother too and she was a kind soul….just like him. Then and there he made a decision not to spend the rest of his days in the sea but to live his life out on land making up for his father’s wrong doings. He decided that he would help people for the rest of his life, he would practice good manners, bring those all they needed and work hard spreading joy. Cormoran’s reign of terror was over but The Long Tall Butler’s life time of kindness had just begun.
As our mini tour of Café Petite draws closer to an end I thought it only necessary to recap on our experience so far. So welcome to a little slice of the tiny world that lies within Café Petite. A few months ago we were delighted to find out we received Arts Council funding to make Café Petite. So we planned a mini tour which spread mostly across Cornwall and Somerset. We were really blessed to work on some stories with the U3A (University of the third age) in Redruth, this gave us the opportunity to hear about some well known Cornish tales from the older generation and distinguish how its important to give these old Celtic myths a new lease of life. So I worked on the old stories and brought in some new ideas, introducing some new characters who linked in with the old well known ones. Apart from telling stories of a Cornish nature we of course offer a very charming table service staying true to the theme of miniature. Our Long Tall Butler meanders around finding guests who are brave enough to enter our curious little world and a stringed acoustic musician serenades your visit. We like to leave audiences with a very sincere message, that things aren’t always as they seem. Although giants may appear to be scary, if we get to know one we might learn that they are gentle and kind and the pesky pixies we hear so much about may be able to teach us a valuable lesson about appreciating the smaller things in life. We have had very insightful and incredibly different experiences performing Café Petite at Wild Tribe Children’s Festival in Plymouth, Somerset’s Wildlife Trust Fete, Port Eliot Festival, Watchet Carnival with Fuse Performance and Holifair Family Festival. We have taken something very special away from each one and will continue to develop these ideas. A special memory that comes to mind first is from Holifair Festival in Gweek (check out Holifeild Farm Project, they are doing some really wonderful stuff). When we were packing up to leave on Monday morning- a family walked past with some food they had just bought. The youngest- a little girl (who had been in to Café Petite just the day before) was explaining to her brother that she was going to keep some of her breakfast for the little people, then she went on to explain that they absolutely were real, she was sure of it and she was keeping just a bit for them to eat. Sometimes its just the very little things that can bring a smile to your face after a long weekend. It was a lovely reminder of why we do what we do.
Next year we hope to allow the café to grow (just a bit) by bringing in some new cuisine, working with local food and nutrition innovators and providing an extra special experience for all. Just see The Long Tall Butler to book a table. You can catch Café Petite at Shambala Festival 21st- 24th of August. Why not pop in for a tiny tea and a story!
Wow, what a week its been! We are overwhelmed by the amount of support we have received for The Crooked Thicket Crowdfunder. We have raised almost half our target already. Thank you to all of you who have pledged, shared and helped spread the word about our project, you really are making a special thing happen. YOU ARE AMAZING! We still need your pledges so please keep em coming. We have carefully put together some really special rewards to make you feel involved in The Crooked Thicket experience. Our “adopt a duck” reward has been very popular so far. The little duckies will be venturing into life here at The Crooked Thicket over the next couple of weeks. They will spend their days roaming around our apple orchard eating slugs and bugs, little do they know they are part of something really special. You can name your duck, visit it when you like and we will send you pictures and updates of life in the orchard from your ducks perspective. Another really special reward is to have a tree planted in your honour. We will pick out a tree especially for you and position a little plaque with your name beside it. This way you will be remembered for years as someone who gave to such a great cause. All our rewards give you the opportunity to see what life is like inside The Crooked Thicket. The idea for the project bloomed out of a strong desire to share this wonderful space with others so I hope the rewards do this too. We are also offering a performance from Hotch Potch as a reward. So if you have an occasion coming up, whether its a wedding, festival or event you can give to a great cause whilst getting a performance of human statue, fire spectacal or stilt walking. So please keep pledging. If you cant afford to pledge then please share our video with everyone you know, these little acts can go and awfully long way, so go on click share, forward, comment, pledge and get behind The Crooked Thicket project.
Wow so I am currently feeling very sick deep in my stomach as we are right in the process of launching our crowdfunder for The Crooked Thicket Creation Space. That’s right we are putting the fate of The Crooked Thicket in your hands and we are asking our crowd to fund the launch of the Creation Space. Despite the absolute terror its a wonderful place for us to be. The Crooked Thicket is the regeneration of a beautifully wild and underused space here in Cornwall. We have an ambitious dream to transform this old organic poultry farm into a fully functional venue to facilitate emergent outdoor practitioners whilst offering a service to those in need. From previous blogs you can see that I am absolutely in love with making work outdoors and without the community it wouldn’t happen. As a performer, artist and human im thrilled by the unpredictable forces of nature and just love making work outdoors mostly because of the spontaneous, “take your moment and go for it” attitude you have to adopt. As a street performer you become a very fearless open person, ready for anything and you absolutely put your trust in your audience. So asking our network to fund what we are doing is not an unfamiliar feeling. Its actually the heart and sole of what we do. We moved to Cornwall over a year ago as graduates, scratching our heads and trying to figure out what to do with the rest of our lives. We took a look around the farm and envisioned a mulit-functional space to support those who dedicate their lively hood to engaging others with the outdoors through play, the arts and education. We have spent the last year devoting our time to a project which we believe can benefit so many people in the local and wider community. Please get behind our project and help us to make great things happen in a wonderfully wild space. Please look at our rewards, pledge and share this with everyone you know! This has been an incredible fulfilling and exciting journey for us so far, this is your chance to become part of that.
Take a look at our video, we are going live within the next few days be ready to pledge and if you have anymore questions about how to be involved or support The Crooked Thicket Creation Space you can get in contact here; firstname.lastname@example.org