The Bowes Museum hosted a Strictly Costume Project during February Half Term which was funded by the Museums Network. The project focused on the 1950s and was inspired by the new textile and costume gallery. The project involved local young people and freelancers, and took 3 days to complete.
During the first two days of the project, the participants worked alongside Lone Helliwell the textile freelancer to create a 1950s costume. The boys printed designs onto t-shirts and the girls made a jive skirt. To begin the project, the students visited the Bowes Museum textile gallery and looked at a variety of patterned textiles. They sketched the patterns and then recreated their own bold design. They made a stencil of their design and printed the motif onto material using fabric paints.
On the final day of the project, the young people participated in a 1950s dance workshop with Shelley O’Brien and Pete Baynes. During the workshops they learnt three dances popular in the 1950s: the Waltz, the Jive and the Rock ’n’ Roll. Following rehearsals, the group hosted a celebration event at the Bowes Museum for family and friends where they performed the dance routines in their handmade costumes.
The Strictly Costume project was very successful. The hard work, enthusiasm and commitment of the young people was outstanding with an excellent outcome. They have learnt new skills and the project has enabled the Museum to develop further links with the local community.
The children were given the opportunity to visit the residents of the Care Home and listen to them retell stories from their childhood, focusing specifically on Barnard Castle and the surrounding area. Both the children and residents really enjoyed the experience. Once the children returned to the school they worked with Löne, a professional textile artist. Each child designed and made a panel to contribute to large scale class tapestry retelling the residents stories.
Once upon a time children and young people from Teesdale School and Montalbo Primary set about working on a very special project. They worked long and hard with artists and sculptors and made many beautiful things. They created animals from willow and set fairytales in clay, they sculpted a musical caterpillar and even carved a magnificent wooden chair, and when the work was finished, there, in the grounds of The Bowes Museum, a Story Garden was made.
During the 2006/07 academic year, The Bowes Museum worked in partnership with Teesdale School through the MLA Learning Links Placement to create a space in the grounds of the Museum in which to tell stories. Delivering the project was an organic process which was very much dependent upon the design ideas of the young people involved. Students from years 8 to 10 contributed to the project and as a result, attended a series of artist-led workshops that complimented the natural theme they wanted for The Story Garden.
In February 2007 the Teesdale students worked with Ruth Thompson from Sylvan Skills to create withie (willow) sculptures and installations based on the Museum’s collections. Later on in this month they also had the opportunity to make fairytale inspired clay tiles with artist Phil Townsend. These tiles have subsequently been inset into the garden’s audience seating.
With funding from the North East Museum’s Regional Hub a multi-sensory element was added to the garden. Teesdale pupils worked with sound sculptor Paddy Burton over two days to turn a huge tree trunk into a musical caterpillar which works in the same way as a xylophone. These three workshops not only provided the young people with new learning experiences, there were also opportunities to develop their team work and problem solving skills.
I thought it was fun and instead of doing the same thing we did different activities to keep us engaged. (Jemma).
The Storyteller’s Chair
A common suggestion from the Teesdale students was for the garden to have a central storyteller’s chair. As a result the Museum established another partnership with Montalbo Primary School and Seaham-based sculptor David Gross to design, carve and assemble a magnificent wooden chair inspired by the Year 3 and 4 pupils’ favourite objects in the Museum.
With The Story Garden complete an official opening was organised on Sunday 10 June 2007 to celebrate the children and young people’s work and achievements. Everyone who was involved in the project attended the event where storyteller Malcolm Green regaled them with his stories of the natural world.
The Story Garden has been a successful, enjoyable project which has opened the door to new Literacy opportunities in The Bowes Museum. Two storytelling focus weeks have been planned for primary schools in the autumn term and the story theme continues into next year’s Learning Links project with Greenfield School – more details on this exciting collaboration to follow!
The Cloth of Tales