I was pointed in the direction of Fun Palaces by a mutual friend as it's ethos is similar to the Cuddly Science (my puppets and sci-craft activities) mission statement - Science for All and the idea that everyone should and can be part of science, art, music, sport = culture.
As a grass root, community driven event it needed contributors so we took the Puppets and did Cuddly Science and junk modelling and I did a poetry set.
Alaric helped with bunting and the girls did a lot of colouring!
There was a wide range of people who came along and took part which is absolutely ace as part of the issue I have is our society is increasingly segmented meaning people find it hard to relate to others as they have never had interactions with people who are different to them.
This included Phillip who sleeps in shop doorway most nights and who was excited to help decorate his home as we stuck the artworks up in the window. Mary decided he was her new best friend and cried when he left.
The space itself ie the shop was donated and the furniture for workshops was loaned from the community enterprise The Furniture Recycling Project.
Ada Lovelace the puppet came out and even did a few little jigs on the street to let people know we were there! Also it is coming up to Ada Lovelace Day again so it was good to let people know about Ada!
The puppets and sci-craft help engage people who have a tendency to be scared of science and is part of how I break down barriers but my workshops are also flexible so I also did general junk modelling and spoke to people about junk art and upcycling - I even have a booklet on the stuff I've written now!
Some truly amazing pieces came out of the workshop from tweeting pop out birds...
To fire breathing dragons and thanks to Mary lots and lots of night vision goggles!
Running workshops is exhausting but fun and everyone seemed to really be enjoying themselves 🙂
We also got to promote the Cheltenham Hackspace as there was a skills exchange board, Jean also kept trying to put my on it to teach stuff like knitting! People were asking about the Hackspace and I found several people had initiatives that could do with junk modelling, comic book creating or cuddly science 🙂 So it was really kind of epic for us!
Then there was the bingo! With Beryl 😀
Turns out I suck at bingo but the lady who won one of my Love: A Stranger Dream candles loved it and Phillip won the cake and then insisted on sharing it with us all. It was an epic cake I am kind of sad I failed to get a photo of it!
Two ladies from Gloucester Cathedral came along to tell us about the projects that are and will be happening there including letting people know about their breakfast club and that they are getting solar panels!
I love the Cathedral space so it was great to hear about things especially how they are planning on turning the front bit into a community garden.
They had also bought with them pictures of stained glass windows and some of the green men carvings for colouring in which went down well with everybody but especially with Mary 🙂
Then it was Spoken Word time - I opened the set with my visual poem and narrative piece Reclaim the City which is part of my Found Poems of the Concrete series. People seemed to like it - I went for the Gloucester theme rather than Fun or Palaces.
I had made booklets for everybody to take away with them as it relies on the images and also I know I personally find it hard to recall stuff when you get bombarded with a lot of cool new things - so it is there for people to look at later if they wish.
Of course I then made the audience participate in Windy Gloucestershire which I was going to read but kind of transposed into singing without me actually noticing!
I also did Summer Sun another song-poem but this time I did do the spoken version. Jean took some photos the one above of Al and the one below of the poet from Food for Thought which is a poetry night that happens at Cafe Rene.
Then we had the brilliant Donna Williams who is a sign poet, in Donna's case she uses British Sign Language or BSL. Sign language is something I've struggled with since the head injury - according to my kids I used to sign nursery rhymes and things for them and my husband says I was quiet militant about this incase any of them ended up with hearing problems like I had as a child, I wanted them to be able to communicate - because not being able to communicate is the MOST frustrating thing. My mum says the main issue is that I knew the rudimentary of 3 different sign language systems, enough to help in classrooms and when I used help her at the day centre but I was not proficient as it were, and now I've got all three of them all muddled up in my head.
Interestingly I understood what was being signed but would not have been able to sign back at all. And also Donna did run through what some of the sings meant as well as vocalising some of the poems.
Mary's favourite was about cats 🙂 I did video it but have since found a better recording on Youtube.
I have written about sign poetry before including here, though interestingly I can't find the stuff about the American poet who started my interest. I am wondering if it was in an essay for my PGCert or something.
Donna was lovely and I think I've seen her/met her before but I am still really struggling with face recognition at the moment! To the point that I could not work out who Nickie (the lady who had organised the event!) was when I arrived.
Mary loved the event and Phillip so much that she had a melt down when it came time to pack up and leave. (And I mean melt down)
It was an amazing day and I hope we get to do it again next year. I met lots more creatives and found out about stuff in Gloucester - this is something I suck at - I will end up going off to Swindon, Bristol, Brum, London etc... and then finding out that there was a big culture spoken word, art etc... thing happening round the corner but only AFTER it has been and gone!
One last thing the decor of the shop was fab!