Annie Blaber, loyal and devoted Trustee of Wonderful Beast since its inception in 1997 till 2019
Words from Wonderful Beast's Artistic Director, Alys Kihl
LOCKDOWN TALES was Wonderful Beast’s answer to the first lockdown in March 2020, when it initiated an online series of over 50 stories and poetry recorded by actors, musicians, poets, a dancer for children around the world to enjoy.
BUBBLE WRAP came next in the third Lockdown (Feb/March 2021): a pilot project for the over 65s, in partnership with Wardens Trust. A series of online workshops, Bubble Wrap took place via the magic of Zoom, bringing together participants from across East Anglia.
It was led by four brilliant artists – Dean Parkin (poet), Martina Schwarz (musician), Hilary Greatorex (actor), and Anusha Subramanyam (dancer), under the umbrella of Wonderful Beast. Originally called Connect and Create, the project evolved into Bubble Wrap thanks to Dean's poem of the same title, which got the whole project rolling and broke the ice. That and the folk tale of The Old Woman and the Vinegar Bottle, were the creative starting points for every group.
In this particular time of isolation ‘connecting’ has been the driving force of the project, whether it is linking one art form to another or linking people. It’s been about meeting new people, feeling part of a group, enjoying the diversity of each other’s imagination and talents, tapping into our own creativity and most importantly having fun!
Quotes from participants
Warm feeling today, going back in time, being part of a group instead of being lonely.
It brightened up my week from the plod, plod of Lockdown. -- Jenifer Kirby
It made me realise how much I’ve been missing fun creative activities. -- Janet Koralambe
It was a great privilege to work with real and talented artists. -- Christine Laschet
Words from the artists:
It was wonderful to see locked-down minds opening up and connecting with each other, and a joy to see so many smiles beaming back.
-- Hilary Greatorex
I’ve run several projects on Zoom over the last year but this did things differently and more ambitiously - connecting a wide-range of people across the county, and bringing people who are isolated, lonely or simply cheesed-off into the Wonderful Beast family and friends!
-- Dean Parkin
We are currently working on creating an online gallery showing all the wonderful creative work – wishes, poems, stories, recordings - that emerged inspired by the sessions.
Selected recorded material from all the sessions will be edited to create a short documentary of the whole project.
2020...many of us will be glad to see the back of it. But there have been good times and bad, and for the team at Wonderful Beast, the challenges presented by this year have led to some unexpected and great things (Lockdown Tales, in particular), and some fabulous new connections. To see some of the highlights, and to find out about what we've got lined up for next year, take a look at our Annual Report in brief, which you can find here.
Hoping you all have the best Christmas possible, and here's to a much, much better 2021. See you in the New Year.
A digital celebration of the winter solstice and festive season, streamed into your living room on 20th December!
First Light Festival presents ‘Winter Solstice’: an invitation to stay in good heart and look to the new year. As the year turns, the winter solstice heralds the restarting cycle of the seasons, reminding us that winter is not forever and life continues. Although it marks the shortest day, the solstice is also a time for renewal. The First Light community will be reunited virtually, as we enjoy storytelling, music and dance as we dream of being together on the beach next summer.
Wonderful Beast is bringing its own special contribution to the festival with a filmed storytelling performance from Hilary Greatorex, with music by Sylvia Hallett. Find out How Night Came From the Sea with the help of a Sea Serpent, in this beautiful Brazilian folktale.
You'll be able to watch the event live here via Facebook (you won't need an account as it's a public event).
A little bit of musical relief for you all. After months of Zoom singing, and before the second Lockdown, members of the Wonderful Beast Singers thankfully gather in a Suffolk cowshed as darkness falls, to sing together whilst a fire crackles, bats swoop and circle, and Rob Gildon coaxes the group into a more musical rendition of ‘Steal Away’.
Coming up on December 18th, a socially distanced outdoor Christmas Sing in the same cowshed at 3.00pm. For more details contact firstname.lastname@example.org . Newcomers welcome.
Inspired by all the brilliant children's entries, our Quangle Wangle's Hat reader and competition judge Julia Blackburn couldn't resist getting her paintbox out too - and even her (grown-up!) son Martin has put forward his own artistic interpretation. Here are their paintings. There's something rather William Blake-esque about Martin's - would be right at home in the Book of Urizen!
We had so many fantastic entries to our Quangle Wangle's Hat Competition - all of which you'll be able to see on our upcoming gallery page, so watch this space, and a huge thank you to everyone who entered. After much careful deliberation from our lovely judge, author Julia Blackburn (who also read The Quangle Wangle's Hat poem for Lockdown Tales), we're delighted to announce the winner as Alice Reeves, aged 8, with her 'Ogglegog'. Isn't he marvellous? Alice wins a lovely hardback copy of The Everyman Book of Nonsense Verse, kindly awarded by The Aldeburgh Bookshop. Thanks to Julia, John & Mary James at the bookshop and of course, all our fabulous entrants!
Since our last entry about Lockdown Tales we have reached over forty stories and poems! They include the Indian tale 'A Drum' told by Anusha Subramanyam, with fabulous drumming by Prathap Ramachandra, and there's more music from opera singer Rob Gildon in the Yiddish story, 'Two Tunes for Three Hundred Rubles', in which he sings the haunting folk melodies that were the undoing of the protagonist. Montserrat Roig de Puig delights us with a story she heard from her grandmother, 'The Vain Little Mouse', whose reprise 'I don't know, I don't know!' has become a Wonderful Beast household catchphrase, while Martina Schwarz can be heard singing like a bee in the lesser-known but enlightening tale by the Brothers Grimm, 'The Queen Bee'. On Thursday, Morven Macbeth tells Switch on the Night, a story of a child conquering their fear of the dark.
There are only a few days to go before the closing date of The Quangle Wangle Competition on 31 August. Don’t let a young family member or friend miss out! Their art work will be displayed in an online gallery on our website and first prize is a gorgeous hardback copy of The Everyman Book of Nonsense Verse, awarded by the Aldeburgh Bookshop.
Alys Kihl, Founder and Artistic Director of Wonderful Beast.