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!

 

Advertisements

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.

15542221_1333276936703420_7083893604716608846_n

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!

The Welbourn Horkey (23 October 2016)

The day had finally arrived, my first large event working in arts administration, or indeed working at all! We arrived at the site around 8am and with bleary eyes we went about making last minute arrangements. Myself and project historian Dave Reeves went around the village putting up signs directing visitors, and displaying info on certain historical sites such as the old co-op shop and the forge. When people started arriving, myself and my musical duo partner Rosie Butler-Hall played music at our assigned spots at the church and village hall. We capitalised on the professional photographer being there by getting him to take some good publicity pictures of us!

 

unspecified-8

Danny Pedler & Rosie Butler-Hall playing in St. Chad’s

The visitors all seemed happy, well fed and watered; there was a hog roast that I’d organised, villagers selling cakes in the village hall and free apple juice, pressed that morning from apples from the community orchard. People had lots to see but also lots to do, Lyndall and Miranda were holding workshops throughout the day, adding to the artwork which the other workshops had produced. The co-op shop was slowly getting fuller.

welbourn-horkey-174

The old co-op set

More attractions opened throughout the day with the farmers’ exhibitions on the green getting going with the 1920s threshing machine they had brought being fired up and hay bales being produced by it.

welbourn-horkey-276

The 1920s threshing machine demonstration

In addition, two young volunteers opened the forge, fired it up and worked some metal on it. Dave was down there explaining about the history of it to the onlookers also.

welbourn-horkey-282

A volunteer working the bellows at the old forge

It was a great day, it was so rewarding to see exhibited, the creative efforts of people of all age groups who had themselves been inspired by their local history. It was a brilliant, educational event to be involved with and so fun to organise. However, a revelation that hit me on the day is the amount of feedback we were required to collect. As a public funded project, through the Heritage Lottery Fund, we had to accurately report the day to them and how it met their requirements. In addition, evaluation is needed to secure funding for future projects and also to reassure funders that they did invest well, especially in an age where funding is being cut all over the arts sector. I was put to work, in my free minutes when I was not playing, handing out surveys for people to fill in. Not the most enjoyable thing on the day, but very important, and a very good insight into the behind-the-scenes work which makes the valuable community work arts administration does possible!

Horkey Preparations (21 October 2016)

The week of the Welbourn Horkey was finally upon us! My week however started with the beginning of community outreach in North Hykeham, the second target village of the project. Myself, the project lead and historian Dave Reeves attended a local soup lunch. We intended to introduce ourselves and to inspire people to volunteer to be interviewed for some oral history collection at later sessions. An element of Dave’s research is to also collect and record anecdotal history from the area and, especially, to document the change from village to town that North Hykeham has undergone. As the town is attached to the city of Lincoln, I asked people whether they felt Hykeham had its own community, separate from Lincoln. While many were depressed and visibly against the expansion of the town, some were positive and did say that North Hykeham has kept some of its traditional identity, and that due to separate institutions such as social clubs, scouts and WI from those in Lincoln, it has retained an independent community.

The first event leading up to the Horkey was a pub quiz on local historical knowledge in the local pub, The Joiner’s Arms. Questions and answers were compiled by Dave and a local historian Bill Goodhand, they tested the villagers on previous economic trades in the village, other historical ‘did you know’ facts, and contained a separate section of local dialect words and phrases from the area. Many people were very enthusiastic about the dialect section, with a (slightly heated) debate taking place between a farmer and a local on what word meant heavier rain: ‘siling’ or ‘kelting’.

img_6279

Pub Quiz in the Joiner’s Arms

On the day before the Horkey, the team assembled in Welbourn to begin preparations. Many people started setting up the decorations in the village hall, however myself and the two artists Lyndall Phelps and Miranda Sharpe started transforming St. Chad’s church into a gallery showcasing the artwork of the Wellingore scouts and Lyndall’s own work. She had used the agricultural heritage of the village as inspiration and created some beautiful works.

 

We then went to the local primary school and I led a procession (with my accordion) of the primary school children who transported their artworks, made in the workshops led by Lyndall and Miranda, to the church. The children had a harvest service in which we attended. They ended the service with a ‘harvest salsa’ which was… interesting. On the way back to the village hall I had learnt the salsa on my accordion and annoyed the rest of the artsNK team by reminding them of the earworm of a tune.

14731289_122458428226775_8298181694182589369_n

Me leading the children’s procession playing a medley of English folk tunes.

 

Horkey Publicity (15 October 2016)

As the Horkey drew nearer, the marketing and publicity was ramped up. Two road-side banners were designed, commissioned, and had been printed by DPS Sleaford. My job was to set them up at the entrances to Welbourn; a colleague and I spent a long while deliberating where they would be seen by both sides of the road and also to accommodate residents coming in and out of the village. After that were many days of flyering in nearby villages such as Navenby, Wellingore and Leadenham. Although outside our targeted villages, I dished out the rest of my heavy stack of leaflets in Waddington, the third target village of the project to raise awareness about the upcoming festival and the start of the project.

 

img_6245

Welbourn Horkey banner by an entrance to the village.

I have really enjoyed all the travelling to and fro for the project as I think it has made me very knowledgeable about the areas surrounding Lincoln. I have loved travelling around North Kesteven and learning the social history of the area from both the villagers and all my colleagues. Everyone at artsNK do genuinely care about the work they do, and really do want to service the communities we work with. Through community outreach activities in schools, community workshops, and children’s extra-curricular groups, twinned with the steering group meetings with members of the local community, I feel very connected and welcomed by the people of Welbourn which has helped me greatly acclimatise to my new home. Knowing about the old mills, the names of local farms and the history of the iron age castle really has made me connect with the area; doubtless most of the village are yet to be affected by this history though!

In addition to the marketing work for the Welbourn Horkey, I have been compiling a list of local contacts for the purposes of community engagement for the second phase of the project based in North Hykeham. The history of the three target villages vary immensely, Welbourn has stayed largely the same size, with around 300 houses now (trust me, I’ve put leaflets through every door!). North Hykeham has completely transferred in the last 150 years. From a small, rural village in the nineteenth century, to a growing industrial town in the early twentieth century with the malleable works and gravel pits providing jobs for the growing population. Finally, the industry has disappeared in the town and, with a growing population, North Hykeham has transformed into a glorified suburb of Lincoln acting as more of a commuter belt. Waddington has grown with the introduction of the RAF base and has also grown into two, sparsely connected villages providing a physical obstacle for the community to overcome. It will be very interesting to see how the Ridges & Furrows project tailors its movements to achieve a lasting positive impact on the community in each village as the year progresses.