Ridges & Furrows Website Launched! (25 May 2017)

Our new Ridges & Furrows Website has been launched! Everyone can see it here: http://www.ridgesandfurrowstrail.org/

After months of planning and liaising with website creators PlinkFizz, the new website is live! It is a huge site with information on the project’s work in the three locations Ridges & Furrows has been working in- Welbourn, North Hykeham and Waddington. The website serves many purposes: it is the archive of all the material we have uncovered about the history of the villages, the gallery for all the pictures of the workshops, activities and events we have organised, an exhibition space for the artworks created, and a place to hear all of the numerous soundbites from all the oral history interviews we have carried out.

Do get online and explore all the amazing history we have uncovered and see the beautiful artworks it has inspired!

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Community Engagement- Waddington (2 May 2017)

These past two weeks we have been beginning our community engagement in Waddington. Artist Simon Grennan and I have been visiting local community groups and schools, holding both art workshops and general introductions, which may result in meeting people who would take part in our oral history programme. We started by visiting Waddinton pre-school last week, and working with the young children getting them to draw their favourite place. This information will be combined with other residents’ significant places in Waddington which will influence Simon’s ideas for his permanent artwork, which will be made at the end of the year. The pictures that were made by the children will be put on display at our main event, which is taking place on the 24th June.

After pre-school, Simon and I went to the coffee morning, taking place in the Waddington Community Hub. We talked to many residents, many of whom had lived in the village for over 60 years. We asked them for their significant places and in return heard many stories of life in Waddington that helps to build an impression of the village which Simon will then portray in his later works. We heard a great story from a woman named Irene who moved here to Waddington to marry her boyfriend stationed at the RAF base:

She lived in Kent until she was in late teens, and met her now husband from the RAF. Her husband was stationed back to Waddington and lived with his parents again in their RAF hut near the village hall. When Irene moved up there to get married, she hadn’t been out of Kent before so didn’t know what to expect and was put off when her husband said that his mums house had 13 rooms. She was worrying how to behave when she got up there, and recalled many conversations with her best friend about how she was going to use all the different types of cutlery. When she arrived at the wooden RAF shack she realised that some of the rooms were basically cupboards. She recalled her first meal there eating a yorkshire pudding swimming in gravy, while sitting outside with their plates resting on a card table; she was so happy she wasn’t marrying into wealth, but was almost sick from the disgusting food!

This week, we held some art workshops in the two schools of Waddington: All Saints and Redwood. We gave the pupils two exercises; first they had to draw their significant place, and then draw a character that represents Waddington for them. We had a wide range of answers to this second question revealing the glorious eccentricity and imagination of the childrens’ minds. Many took the question literally and drew a creature with houses for limbs, others used physical features of the village to clothe the character, like using roof tiles for fish-like scales and locally grown wheat for hair. It was a very rewarding experience and the exercise was useful for the children to challenge them to imagine a personification of their home. Here are a few examples:

Heritage Research Advancing (30 March 2017)

Oral History

After the Christmas break, Ridges & Furrows has been making strides in its heritage research in this rest period between the events in North Hykeham and Waddington. Project historian Dave Reeves has been adding to the two Oral History interviews we got in Welbourn during the training day with Wellingore scouts. He interviewed Gill Lucas who has contributed some great memories of growing up in a farming family in rural Welbourn, her childhood memories being typified by roaming cycle rides and playing games in fields. We have also heard from Landlady of the Joiner’s Arms in Welbourn, Sally Geraghty, who has recited some lyrics she remembers from being sung Plough Monday songs in her childhood by her mother.

In addition to Oral History in Welbourn, this aspect to our heritage research is coming on very well in North Hykeham. With our great volunteer Ray Allen, himself and I are going every week to the Soup Lunch at All Saints Church Hall to interview people. We have had a wide range of people telling some great memories of the town and how it has swelled from small, rural village in the last fifty years.  We have heard memories from retirees and people who have moved in from outside to be nearer family, whose stories are just as important as interviewees who were born in Hykeham. To hear stories from people who have moved to Hykeham is interesting because the stories aren’t blended with a yearning for the town’s rural past; this is very useful to build an accurate picture of Hykeham’s recent history.

During these Soup Lunch recordings, we heard from the Hall’s caretaker Denise Temple, who revealed some beautiful memories of her childhood in the 1960s growing up playing on Delph road, spending all her pocket money at Ash’s sweet shop, and getting into trouble with the local builder Benny Bell. Unfortunately we cannot post interviews on here, but head the to the Ridges & Furrows website (when it is launched) to hear soundbites of many of the interviews we have conducted. I will post a URL when it is.

 

Archive Visits

During the past weeks, myself and Dave have been to Lincoln Archives to look for primary historical materials relating to Waddington. We found an interesting ‘rebus’ written by a churchwarden in the seventeenth century. It seems to be a word puzzle alluding to his name or character; take a look and see if you can work out how the bottom sentence is created. Also, if you are able to translate the latin into a form of English more accurate than Google can, please tell us through private message to this blog, or contact artsNK! Here is the extract:

  • ’78. A rebus- There is inscribed in the beginning of the old Churchwardens’ Book of Waddington (1632-1805) the following Rebus:-

Qu    an    di    tris    c    vul    stra

os   guis   rus   ti   um   nere   vit-

H    san    mi   Chris  c     mu      la

i.e.,

Quos anguis dirus tristi cum vulnere strauit,

Hos sanguis mirus Christi cum munere lavit.’

In addition to this slightly confusing archive visit, I have been scouring the shelves of the archives, museums and librariesof Lincoln to find old photographs from Welbourn, North Hykeham and Waddington to use to add an extra visual heritage element to the soon-to-be-launched Ridges & Furrows website. I managed to find a good few photos of the North Hykeham post mill from the 1920s. Here area few pictures of the mill that was built in 1753, worked until the late nineteenth century and left to go derelict.

 

 

Waddington Artist Appointed! (5 February 2017)

After the Christmas break, the Ridges & Furrows team got to work meeting with the steering group in Waddington and discussing the artist who would be working with the historian to create pieces of art reflecting the history and the community of Waddington. Unlike the project in the other locations of Welbourn and North Hykeham, Waddington Parish Council have successfully applied for funding from Arts Council England for the artist to create a permanent artwork in the village. After a difficult shortlisting process and after holding the interviews, artsNK, along with the Parish Council, decided on extending the contract to the artistic partnership of Simon Grennan and Chris Sperandio. Grennan, based in the UK, and Sperandio, based in the US, work together on different projects to create artworks which are thoroughly thought through, properly contemplated and well expressed. We can’t wait to get working with them! Here is an example of their public and private exhibitory artwork.

 

In the past week, myself and the project Historian Dave Reeves have been starting our investigations into the history of Waddington. We went to visit esteemed local historian Marion Sutton, who kindly let us into her home and allowed to get very excited over some old maps of the area and many other resources she has. She seemed very happy to contribute to our historical understanding of the village to make the project have an extra element of community inclusion and to help the public artwork be as appropriate as possible to the village.

All in all, good progress has been made in the Waddington section of the project and I’m very excited to see what creative produce the project will yield.

Winter Haecca (18 December 2016)

This week was the week of the Winter Haecca, the main event of the second section of the Ridges & Furrows Project based in North Hykeham. The night before the event I loaded up a hired van with the ceramic lights, NKarts gazebo, pop up banners and Ridges & Furrows flags. I was very excited for the event as I had been involved from the very start; compared to the Welbourn Horkey when I was brought in a month into preparations. I was very interested also to see if the event would work as well in the dark. We had to come up with a different form of evaluation as we couldn’t give out surveys due to the light. We printed some postcards that had three questions on them, and to ensure we got a good amount of feedback, we gave away free glowsticks for every completed postcard that was handed back. The postcards were a beautifully designed set of four; each set were printed with either an earth, wind, fire or water design on the front (in the Ridges & Furrows style), and on the back was a corresponding fact about each theme’s connection with North Hykeham’s history.

On the morning of the event, myself and project historian Dave Reeves went to Lincoln to appear on BBC Radio Lincolnshire to publicise the Winter Haecca. Dave talked about the name Haecca, the town’s history and the event’s attractions. I had taken my accordion in and played Jo Freya’s processional tune. Interview starts at 02.11:40, my rendition of the processional tune can be heard at 02.18:45. Here is the link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04hvz0z

On my return, the team had arrived with the loaded van; like the Horkey, many members of the NKarts partnership showed up to volunteer giving the event a nice feel of communal effort and we all shared in the magic of it. As the early dusk fell, we set about putting ceramic lanterns (that had been created for a previous project) around trees near a back entrance to the village green which created a fairy-circle effect and gave more colour to the dark, cold night.

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A close up of the ceramic lanterns used to light up the Haecca

The town council’s part was coming together also, a big stage had been erected which was to accommodate the nativity play and the North Hykeham song performance. The Christmas stalls were also beginning to arrive and added noises and entrancing smells to the event. Half an hour before the scheduled start, the children from schools and the community workshops started to arrive and pick up their lanterns ready to process. Dave, Crauford and myself had a quick practice of the processional tune and awaited our marching order. The sun had gone down completely by the time we set off around the site, and the lanterns really stuck out against the night sky creating a beautiful effect. We led the star-lit cavalcade past the main stage, past our aerial performance area, through the stalls and over the little beck at the back of the green. We placed the lanterns into the ground at the far side of the beck so people on the main site could see the lanterns still shining across the water.

 

After the procession, our aerial volunteers started their performance. Our dance team had been running workshops in Boston for months and the volunteers really rose to the occasion. The blue and white lighting, twinned with ambient music and smoke bombs created a beautiful atmosphere in which the dancers looked graceful and professional on the silks. It drew a huge crowd which gave great feedback. The performance was a beautiful addition to the evening and something that was a welcome surprise to the entranced onlookers.

 

After the Town Council’s nativity play and children’s Christmas songs, Crauford and I took to the stage to direct the North Hykeham Song written by artist Jo Freya. The school children and the High Notes choir performed very well and the stage, packed with people, created a beautiful noise that carried far into the town.

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Members of the High Notes Choir perform the North Hykeham Song

 

The amazing aerial dancers gave the crowd another performance and people gradually dispersed over the next half an hour. It was a beautiful event, the bright lanterns, artworks, dance displays and the community’s singing filled the winter night with warmth and delight. The Haecca had a very different feel to the Horkey, it was all taking place on the green, compared to the many venues in Welbourn. The effort that both artsNK and the Town Council went to to make the event light and festive surpassed the Horkey as the green was lovely to look at. While being less historically informative than the Horkey, due to the light not be accommodating to setting up information boards, we hoped that due to the facts on the feedback postcards and the history woven into the art the Ridges & Furrows artists and the community created, the people of North Hykeham learnt a little more about their local heritage.

Winter Haecca: Final Lantern Making Workshop (11 December 2016)

This week was a very full week as it was the week before the Haecca on the 14th December. This week saw the finishing of the big banners that were to go on the side of the village green where the event was taking place. More final preparations were underway too, Jo Freya had her last rehearsal with the local choir, the High Notes. I also was very busy at the start of the week having long walks around the town giving leaflets to any business, person and pin board that would take them. We also had a rehearsal of the procession tune Jo had written, mid week. I was to play again, also project historian Dave Reeves and the musical co-ordinator for the event Crauford Thomson joined me to have a run through. We were made up of an accordion, melodeon and a mandolin. The procession would sound, as well as look, beautiful.

This week contained the final community workshop for the lantern making. We had a great turn out again, more than 30 people filled the Terry O’Toole theatre and used the stencils, created in the previous workshop, to make some brilliant paper lanterns. The peas I got in Spalding were also used to make shakers that were decorated in the colours of the earth, wind, fire and water theme for the North Hykeham section of the project. The procession would look amazing, fingers crossed for a dry night!

 

Haecca Publicity and School Workshops (4 December 2016)

The leaflets for the Winter Haecca event arrived today, they followed the same design pattern as the Horkey posters and leaflets with similar colours to keep a sense of continuity. (See below) Distributing them was now a priority with the event on the 14th looming down on us. I therefore booked a time at the big ASDA in North Hykeham to do some leaflet distribution in the lobby. As the Haecca would be a very varied event, incorporating interpretive dance, community artworks, social history and the Town Council’s input of Christmas stalls, songs and plays, I had trouble deciding which opening line to use to get people’s attention. I therefore settled on a rather crude option of deciding which people may like certain things. For families with young children I started with ‘Would you be interested in coming to a Christmas Fair?’, with older residents I chose social history as an opening line, etc. The best response I had was from an old boy from North Hykeham who, when asked ‘are you interested in local history?’, replied ‘I am local history mate’.

 

Later on in the week we received word from artist Jo Freya that she had finished most of the verses for the North Hykeham song she was writing for the event and teaching to children in local schools. It starts with an opening chant with the town’s oldest streets, then breaks into the main body of the song, influenced by the 50s rock and roll style.

song-for-blog

North Hykeham Song composed by Jo Freya.

 

In addition to the lantern making workshops and Jo’s music workshops in local schools, we were also providing two days of history workshops at South Hykeham Community Primary School. I went for both days with project historian Dave Reeves. We used some similar topics as in the workshops Dave did in Welbourn Primary school, such as the old occupations of the area, their parents’ occupations and their own ‘marks’ incorporating the jobs they wanted to have. In addition, as we had the maps I had sourced from the town council, we described how the occupations in North Hykeham had changed over the years. At the end of each workshop we showed the children the maps and invited them to find the old windmills, the foundry, the old gravel pits and, yes, their own homes. Dave and I had a great time teaching the children and involving them in such ways as to get them excited about their local history.

Below are some of the occupational ‘marks’ the children created.

Illuminate project & Waddington planning (25 November 2016)

This week involved more planning for North Hykeham and involved more circulating of the new posters that had arrived for the Haecca (see picture in last post). More excitingly, I was involved with the first steering group meeting for Waddington. It was comprised of locals, school teachers, parish councillors, project historian Dave Reeves and the artsNK project lead. The meeting has occurred very far in advance of the event which is taking place in spring, so at this stage everyone was discussing the themes we would want to work with in Waddington’s history. It is home to the RAF base, many ancient rights of way, medieval field systems and old clay pits and brick works. It was a great meeting to be involved with, I love learning about the different target locations’ character, history, identity and social tensions.

This week I was introduced to the true inter-disciplinary and inter-departmental spirit at artsNK. Their sister organisation ‘Transported’, based in Boston, were putting on a project called Illuminate, which explored Boston’s involvement the seventeenth century colonisation of North America and combined their heritage-inspired artistic performances with the town council’s Christmas lights ceremony. I was asked to play a specially created piece of music at the head of one of two processions that would converge in the town square. The musician for the other procession was a melodeon player called Dave Gray who I had previously met around various festivals and the folk circuit- small world right! We worked yet again with a rather stressed Jo Freya who was composing music for the Haecca at the same time! It was a joy to work with them both and also to be involved with another great project.

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Me playing at the head of a lantern procession for the Illuminate project

North Hykeham planning and Horkey Evaluation (19 November 2016)

A breakthrough came through this week in the naming of the event in North Hykeham. We wanted to come up with a name containing as much historical reference to the area as the name ‘Horkey’ had for the event in Welbourn. The project lead for North Hykeham was born in the town, has a passion for its local history and had also studied Anglo-Saxon. She and project historian Dave Reeves, after a bit of research, found out that one of the Anglo-Saxon names for Hykeham was ‘Haecca’. The word Haecca, twinned with ‘ham’ (added later) combined to mean ‘a clear(ed) piece of land encircled by a river’; which is what Hykeham is! We therefore had a name for our event: The Winter Haecca.

heacca-poster

Winter Haecca Poster

I had come into the project quite late into the planning for the Welbourn Horkey, so for the North Hykeham section of the project I had been given a bit more responsibility. I set about writing the official event plan and staff rota for the Haecca on the 14th December. It gave me an insight of the meticulous planning that goes into these events; timings must be tight, volunteers and stewards must have a job at every time, risk assessments must be produced for every activity, insurance has to be provided by all organisations, artists and choreographers involved and nothing must be left to chance.

The Haecca would be twinned with the Christmas fair and nativity play that the Town Council run every year. Our rough running order had been decided: it would open with a lantern procession with school children and residents holding the lanterns made in the community workshops. The main body of the event would contain a North Hykeham song written by music artist Jo Freya, inspired by the research Dave and I had done. In addition, we were working with artsNK’s dance team and they were to put on an aerial performance, working from themes from North Hykeham’s history. All this, twinned with North Hykeham Town Council’s normal event, meant that it was shaping up to be a good night!

Reflections (12 November 2016)

About a month into my first job out of university, I can look back favourably. I have always been afraid that the world of work would be a boring, monotonous, endeavour for survival while greasing the wheels of capitalist exploitation (excuse the language, I went to a liberal arts college). However, the work for the non-profit organisation artsNK has been varied, rewarding and appealing to my wide range of skills and interests covering music, history and community engagement.

My favourite job I have had yet occurred while in a meeting with the project lead for North Hykeham and historian Dave Reeves about the lantern-making workshops in schools. To add another element to the lantern making workshops, Dave suggested that we could create shakers for the children to make noise with in the procession on the night. To make it tie in with North Hykeham’s heritage, Dave said that the shakers could be filled with peas as a reference to the pea-picking room which was an early employer of women in North Hykeham. Therefore, after researching where to source the materials I had a long drive through the fens of south Lincolnshire to Spalding to collect some peas from Dunns International seed and pulse co. All free of charge, a man had two huge sacks of dried peas ready for me to heave to my car to take back. When I asked him if they’d last to the event on the 14th December, he replied that they’d last for about 25 years. If they don’t all get used then I know what I can survive on if there was ever a nuclear apocalypse.