Friday, 6 March 2015

Legends in the Land; Woodland Stories

When we built a car parking area at Hallr Wood as part of our planning permission, I asked Roger (the digger driver) to create a bank with the spoil to separate the wood from the vehicles. After he had gone I realized he had created a dragon shape. And so the idea of a Dragon for the wood was born. Ideas were further developed by the groups who attend. There was also some cosmetic help from a local talented chain saw artist, Andy Tree Pirate. And so our Dragon became a reality. He stretches the full length of the car park and is now covered in vegetation and wild flowers, forming a bee and butterfly friendly, south facing bank. He provides endless fun and inspiration to the children.
Our beautiful Dragon
Although simple found items in nature can often be enough to stimulate imaginative play, I believe there can be value in providing some extra visual stimulus, especially for children who may struggle without any props at all.

Many of the young people who attend can have huge resistance to formal 'literacy' and yet something about the space seems to encourage role play and imaginative exploration. The therapeutic value is especially important to those who may well have missed out on such play in earlier childhood.
St George...
Over the years, many stories have been developed. We ran a literacy project whereby participants could chose a woodland animal and work with Andy over the design and size. Afterwards they could chose where to site the animal, as long as they agreed to come up with a story about it. There was no requirement to physically write the story but something had to be produced.

More recently we have been developing an earth sculpture. She was created because we needed a barrier. It was Imbolc and we had been telling the story of St Brigid, searching for her cow and following the drops of milk to help find her. As the shape of a sleeping girl started to form on the ground from our logs and earth, conversations about our creations proliferated. We soon found that we had a milk maid  from Kingsdon who also had lost her cow. She came to Hallr Wood and having failed to find her cow (had the Dragon eaten it?) she filled the nearby pond with her tears and exhausted, lay down to rest. As if that wasn't enough for the poor maid, a witch cursed her to sleep there for ever. There maybe some cause for optimism if enough people can come and sing with the lady who does revive every full moon and enjoys a good sing...  Last week it also became apparent that the maid is pregnant (or has she just had a very large Hallr Wood lunch?). This is very much a work in progress. Her stories will no doubt continue.
Our Lady of Hallr Wood

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