Libraries or art galleries?

by admin on 17 March 2018

Where are the best sources of stories for storytellers? No doubt we each have our favourites.

Are they libraries?

Or are they art galleries?

Personally, I find galleries can offer more stories than Aesop, Lamb, and all the others put together.

All you must do is look for them, winkle them out, and invite them to tell.

They can be found hiding around every corner.

They can be found in the glare of spotlights, and hiding from natural light in darkened rooms.

They are found locked away behind glass, unable to feel the air like they once did.

They can be seen high on walls, open to 360-degree scrutiny, unable to have any privacy and yet they go unnoticed.

They are all fixed, immovable, hung on walls by heavy chains. They are unable to stretch their legs, unable to exercise and unable to communicate with the people who have come to see them.

They range from pictures so small you wear them as a brooch, to canvasses so vast they can show hundreds of people and vast mountain ranges.

They are caught in mediums varying from brash bold colours in oils to the faintest, most delicate pencil lines.

Our duty as storytellers is to seek them out, to release them, to let them spread their wings and fly into the air and sun, where they first took root.

The picture may be nothing more than a brooch sized silhouette. But who was the subject, who was the recipient of this love token? What was their story?
It may be a simple portrait by an unattributed artist. Who was the sitter, why had he commissioned it? How was he feeling that morning whilst sitting, proud he could afford to have a portrait done? Was he bored with the process? Who or what was he thinking of. How was the artist? Bored with the client? Cross with his wife for burning the bacon that morning?


Take Mr and Mrs Andrews pictured above by Gainsborough.
What’s their story? Are they a happy couple? Why is the sky so dark over him and their house? What is he frowning about and what is she smiling about? Is the dog just being obedient? What’s he done so wrong that he has such pleading in his eyes? Why are their children hiding under her dress?

So many things to build a story around.
So many other pictures, and so many other stories.

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Libraries or Museums?

by admin on 24 February 2018

Where are the best sources of stories for storytellers? No doubt we each have our favourites.

Are they libraries?

Or are they in museums?

Personally, I find museums can offer more stories than Aesop, Lamb, and all the others put together.

All you must do is look for them, winkle them out, and invite them to fly.

They can be found hiding in unexpected dark corners.

They can be found in the glare of spotlights.

They can be found locked away in glass cabinets, unable to feel the air like they once did.

They can be seen hung on walls, Helpless and unable to escape.

They can be found mounted on pedestals, open to 360-degree scrutiny, unable to have any privacy and yet unnoticed.

They are all fixed, immovable. They are unable to stretch their legs, unable to exercise and unable to communicate with the people who have come to see them.

Our duty as storytellers is to seek them out, to release them, to let them spread their wings and fly into the air and sun, that they once enjoyed.

Now, I recently had the opportunity to explore storytelling at the Ashmolean Museum.

You don’t have to go to a posh, internationally renowned museum, to find them. You can find them in any collection of old artefacts.

What caught my eye this time were two exhibits that showed entirely opposing views on death and religion.

Was one a collection of finds found in a saxon grave. This was evidently the grave of a rich woman. It was not a large collection, a gold belt buckle, silver hair pins and an ivory hair comb amongst others. The story, when it was unravelled, reflected the love and remembrance with which her husband, placed the items in her grave……

The other was a collection of medieval ‘holy relics’.
Phials of the blood of saints, bones of the saints, splinters from the ‘one true cross’. Some were contained in the most ornate and expensive gold and jewelled boxes.
Manufactured to be sold to gullible pilgrims, to be owned and displayed by religious monasteries and the like, to attract pilgrims and to improve their turnover and standing in the religious communities. All done without any love or reverence, only greed.

The wealth of storytelling material is enormous. The opportunity to enhance the museums visitors experience is incalculable. With it the opportunity to bring people back for multiple visits is vast.

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A storytelling evening

September 29, 2017

Stories aren’t only for summer events. As its October why not a ghost story too? A summers daydream in an old local country park leads to a scary happening. As its in a pub, why not also hear about another pub and another innkeeper from another age? Storytelling in Penge HOME BECKENHAM STORYTELLING CIRCLE BECKENHAM […]

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Kipling and the Kilted Tommy

August 8, 2017

Bateman’s is a wonderful house and it was a privilege to take part in their WW1 weekend this year. The Kilted Tommy’s first battle was Loos in September 1915, as it of was John (Jack) Kipling. According to trench maps they were no more than 500 yards apart before the battle. I reasonably amended the […]

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An Agincourt Archer – Treason in Romsey

April 10, 2017

There were lots of Archers at Agincourt, at least 3000. My first Archer story looks at a farmer signing up to the army of Henry V and enjoying his journey from Derbyshire to Porchester castle, meeting Chaucer and his pilgrims on the way. My second story looks at a different archer in a different part […]

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Saint Tysilio

April 10, 2017

GŴYL TYSILIO FESTIVAL 2017 – programme I will be Actor in Residence for the weekend on the Island and performing my story in the Church on Sunday afternoon Who? Was he martyred? Was he famous? Where is his cathedral? He wasn’t martyred, he isn’t famous, he has no cathedral. He was quietly religious in North […]

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The Stoney Stratford Kidnapping

April 10, 2017

Write something about medieval Milton Keynes…… umm… Wasn’t Milton Keynes only built in 1969? But.. Everywhere has a history. Everywhere has a story. Medieval kings processed around the country with an enormous retinue. Imagine being an innkeeper in a small midlands town who is told the king will be staying for a night in your […]

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Performances in 2017

February 23, 2017

March  – The Agincourt Archer at a private event May 25th, and June 1st and 3rd –  One Man and his Dog at Brighton Fringe June 17th & 18th – The Inkeeper at Milton Keynes Heritage Festival July 1st – The Agincourt Archer at King Johns House, Romsey July 15th and 16th – St Tysilio at […]

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1st post of 2017, and a reflection on what I am about

January 2, 2017

We all like marvelling at beautifully ruined churches and dramatic castles and soaking in their history. They are evocative, due to their size and appearance alone. But do we take much notice of ruins like these on our walks in the country?             Half a wall, a pile of stones, […]

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One Man and his Dog at the Brighton Fringe 2017

December 4, 2016

    A play about older people. Something unusual for the Fringe! Is one too old to look for pastures new? If not, what are the consequences? You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or can you? Age may not wither, but it does give a couple time to reflect on their lives and […]

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