Part of the BM125 project involved taking ideas about the Collections back into the landscapes a lot of those collections came from. In July, as one of our public events, Creeping Toad teamed up with Borderland Voices to host a poetry and art day at the Dove Valley Centre in the Upper Dove Valley fitting the day into the Buxton Fringe Festival
26 people joined us for a day of walking and wandering, scribbling ideas, sharing words, creating pictures and eating cake. We didn’t tie the day to any particular artefacts but drew upon the historic landscapes of the Moorlands and poems unfolded about the flowers we met, the drystone walls and the agricultural history of the area. The clear night-time skies over the dales inspired solar system pictures while other people focussed in to capture the flowers of traditional haymeadows.
Poems from the day are being posted on the Creeping Toad blog and some of the shorter pieces, especially the riddles, will be logged onto the Wonders of the Peak app to tempt people out walking to create their own
Have a go yourself?
A quick haiku activity: go outside and sit down on the ground if you can. There, a) look at the sky above, b) touch the ground below, c) reflect on how these sensations make you feel. Turn those three thoughts into 3 lines. You might use the syllable convention ( 5 syllables, 7 then 5 again) but you don’t have to! Go for short, clear images and hold onto room to breathe….(Looking up, reaching down are a good pair of sensations, you could use others!)
Whispers in the grass
Little rustles through small stems
Wind flowing freely
Wind playing its instruments
Grass whispers softly
Thanks to our Whispers poets and artists
The opening poem is by Mary King,
for the others we haven’t got notes of the poets names!
Celebrating the years that something has been standing stuffed but still growling in a museum may seem a bit odd, but “The Buxton Bear” has been a feature of the Museum since its arrival 30 years ago. When the Museum redesigned its Wonders of the Peak galleries in 2017 there was much debate about “whether the bear should go”.
After all, this is not a local bear (probably a North American Black Bear, maybe a Brown). It isn’t an established part of the Collection – it was brought in to give the museum a bear in a cave as an example of the excitements of life in the Peak District a few thousand years ago (although at the time our bears were probably larger and didn’t growl in trans-Atlantic accents). The Bear, however, is well known, well loved (by some), well loathed (by others) and well dreaded by adults who were growled at when they were (presumably) much younger. The Museum just wouldn’t be the same without The Bear rumbling away in a corner.
So, The Bear stayed.
And this year marks 30 years of growling away in a corner of the Gallery. Over the summer, the Museum staff have been encouraging the Bear into new looks. We have seen a Boating Bear, a Wimbledon Bear, a Holiday bear, a Pride Bear.
The Museum’s regular event artists (including myself), have also been joining in with assorted Bearday activities. There have been bear masks, bear finger puppets, drawing big bears, making cards of small bears, bear heads. On Sunday just gone, we had a Teddy Bear’s Picnic out on the Slopes in front of the Town Hall. Here, between sandwiches and running around, we made bear badges and bear bunting. There were
crowns for teddy bears (and cuddly zebras and pigs). There were Bearday Cards (sorry, Bear, they all went home with the children who made them!) and a general sense of ursine cheerfulness
So if you are in Buxton, please do drop into the Museum and say hallo to our Bear. She (or he? Not quite sure) is definitely one of the family.
and thanks to all all our Bear event participants and to Richard Johnson for the original bear line drawings we used for the badges!
*the bear stole a honey diamond from the snail who owned and guarded it….
write a poem, draw a picture, shape a story from a twig,
a feather and a leaf….bring a picnic and relax
A breeze blows through the hay, a bumblebee buzzes, sun warms the old meadows of the Dove Valley and we all settle into an ease of stories and poems. Join the Creeping Toad and Borderland Voices team for a day of inspiration from the fields and wide skies of the valley
This event is planned as a day for casual creativity. Our artists will support you with ideas and materials and you can do as much or as little as you like. You can just take some time to simply enjoy the beauty of the Upper Dove Valley, chat to new friends or old mates and (maybe? hopefully!) watch the ravens tumbling in the sky over Pilsbury castle
Whispers is a free event: no booking or tickets are needed, just drop by and join in. If you would like to check anything out, contact Gordon on firstname.lastname@example.org
Dove Valley Centre:follow the link for directions to the Centre. When you arrive at Under Whitle, you can drive down the track to the Centre (right at the end of the track) but you are recommended to park at the top of the hill and walk, saunter or wander down the hill to the Centre and enjoy the views as you drop into the deep valley
Making carnival masks and hats inspired by our very own scimitar-tooth cats,
cave lions, wild horses and mammoths.
Once upon a time and not so long ago there were wolves in the Peak District hills, wild boars in the woods and beavers in the rivers. Once there were wild ponies here, and cave lions, reindeer and bears. There were scimitar-toothed cats and straight-tusked elephants.
Before that, long and longer ago there were strange sharks swimming in ancient limestone seas.
What wonderful animal would you celebrate?
Join us at the Museum to make animal masks and hats to wear in Buxton Carnival – or just to wear and enjoy and relish the animals that lived here once (or, for unicorns, maybe “should have lived here once”).
Celebrate the ancient animals of the Peaks and join Two Left Hands in the Buxton Carnival Parade. A BM125 workshop as part of the celebrations for the Museum’s 125th anniversary
This event is free, no booking or tickets needed. Children under 7 should bring a grown-up with them and you need to allow 45 minutes to make an animal hat
A swirl, a splash, the flap of a broad tail on the water or the silence where someone has vanished….we don’t see much of merfolk unless they want to be seen
A handsome pony stands on the bank of a highland stream, gleaming black and friendly, climb on my back, I like the company, I am safe, an easy gallop over the moors…Kelpies are notoriously tricksy shapechanging water folk
Rather wizened now, older than any of her visitors, her strange and marvellous features not quite as strange and marvellous as they once were but the Museum mermaid still has the power to fascinate and people come and stare. It doesn’t cost a penny any more to come and admire and the Boyd-Dawkins Room at Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is very different from the sideshow, freakshow tents where she started her career in show business, but the Museum Mermaid still draws her visitors…..
Water People enchant us: with their beauty or their power or their seductiveness or their danger or their grace and generosity – or with all of those at the same time. here in Buxton we are blessed with local stories of mermaids and water people (Blake Mere, Kinder Downfall, Redesmere) and with our own Arnemecta, the Goddess of the Waters
In celebration of the Museum mermaid, of the water people tales of the Peaks, of the water people stories from across our islands and of the spirit of water in general, we are organising a small festival.
All events are free – for some of them booking is needed as spaces are limited
For all events, children 7 years old and less need to bring a grown-up with them (in case we have some hungry water creatures to feed)
THURSDAY 30TH MAY
1. Mermaids and monsters
Make a mermaid, a sea serpent, a fluttering sea horse or some wild and wonderful creatures no one has ever met before. Quick puppets of shimmering, sliding sea creatures with Gordon from Creeping Toad
Venue: Buxton Museum and Art Gallery* (venue details at foot of post)
Times: 2 – 4pm
No booking needed just drop by and join in – allow 30 minutes for the activity
FRIDAY 31ST MAY 2. Hand-made mermaids
Inspired by ‘The Buxton Mermaid’, recreate your own idea of this mythical creature, using a variety of art materials, then place her in your very own sea. A drop-in workshop with Artist and Educator Anna Spratt.
Venue: Green Man Gallery*
Times: 10.30 – 11.30am
No booking needed just drop by and join in
3. Interview with a Mermaid
Anita Jasso is a ‘professional’ mermaid, with a breath-hold of 5 minutes, who can free-dive to 40m. You may have seen her on the ITV drama, Butterfly. With mermaid clubs springing up all over the country, there has never been a better time to discuss this cultural phenomenon.
Venue: Green Man Gallery Times: 12 noon – 1pm
No booking needed just arrive and listen with a smile
4. Mermaid CSI
How was she made? Where did the bits come from? Why did they make her? Solving the mystery of the mermaid! Listen to Conservator Anita Hollinshead reveal her research, after studying ‘The Buxton Mermaid’ for her MA in the Conservation of Historic Objects at the University of Lincoln.
Venue: Green Man Gallery
Times: 1.30 – 2.30pm
No booking needed just arrive and listen with a smile or maybe your best detective notebook….
5. Mermaid: the Movie
Former BAFTA Screenplay Judge, Rob Young, will give a one-hour crash course in how to write a movie. It’s Film School in an hour! A warm, witty and welcoming workshop in the craft of storytelling. Free, but booking essential.
The world premiere of a short story by award-winning writer Rob Young, inspired by The Buxton Mermaid and the ‘haunted’ pool at Blake Mere. D E E P tells the story of Jan, a Buxton boy who discovers that there’s something strange in the water. A darkly-comic urban fairy-tail for Young Adults (older adults welcome too). Performed by Buxton actress, Sarah Day.
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is 125 this year and to mark that anniversary, the BM125 project will bring together experienced with new and emerging artists with 12 months of artistic initiatives
Illustrations on this blog are extracts from bigger pictures by some of our Water people artists!
In the Water and The Land and the Sea are by Ruth Evans
Sea dancer is by Jo Thilwind – visit her work at Dreamspaceart on Facebook
Kelpie is by Gordon MacLellan from Creeping Toad
Feral Mermaid, photograph by Rob Young
Whale Rider is by Maria Strutz