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Friday, September 23, 2011

Wild about Culture

My, What Big teeth you have....

Explore history, music, live performances, crafts and environmental education!

Saturday October 1st from 11 to 4 we are celebrating Culture days in Clarington. We will be discovering our communities history, learning about environmental conservation, enjoying music and puppets and all in a gallery setting full of incredible art. If you are asking what kind of event is that? I can tell you it is a WILD one!

We are looking at wolves.
Wolves hold a special place in the our psyche. To the Pioneers they were the enemy, a top predator who was a threat.
Thomas Conant writes in 'Life in Canada' about the fall of 1806, at a time when our Government was offering a $6 bounty for wolves. He was "keeping company" with a young woman who lived some 3 miles back from lake Ontario. He had been courting until late and left to walk home in the dark. getting about half way home he heard in the distance the baying of wolves. He further describes the encounter as such;
"In a very few minutes the wolves were upon him, in full cry, eyes protruding, tongues lolling, and ready to devour him. A near-by beach tree, which his arms could encircle, furnished him with the means of escape. He climbed and climbed, while the wolves surrounded him and watched his every motion, never ceasing their dismal howls the live-long night. Thus he kept his lonely vigil. To lose his hold for a single second meant instant death."

This is not the only account of early settlers spending the night in a tree. In one case a fiddler was stuck in the rafters of his unfinished house.
What we can learn from this is not so much about animal behaviour, but a great deal about the fears and attitudes of the settlers. The woods were a scary place full of dangerous animals, and the settlers saw it as their responsibility to civilize those woods.

Now we understand a great deal more about food chains and the complexity of ecosystems.
Wolves still hold a power place in our imaginations. The wolf is a re-occurring character through out the Patria plays. We are lucky enough to be displaying costumes, props puppets and set pieces designed by Jerrard and Diana Smith for these plays. We have wolf masks for 'The Enchanted Forest' and a 10 foot tall wolf puppet that was used in the 'Princess of the stars' an incredible piece of theatre staged on a lake.

Come by and make your own wolf mask, explore the exhibit and see the great show by Glen the paddling Puppeteer. To top it all off it is all FREE.

Thanks for looking D.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Greatest Show

We are so lucky to have this show at the Clarington Museums and Archives.

It is an exhibit of designs, costumes, puppets, masks and set pieces designed over the past 30 years by Jerrard & Diana Smith for the Patria Cycle of music dramas created by composer R. Murray Schafer.

Displayed are designs and pieces from; 'The Greatest Show', 'Princess of the Stars', 'The Enchanted Forest', 'Ra', The Palace of the Cinnabar Phoenix' and 'The Crown of Ariadne'.

The Heritage centre has become a magical place to visit, and to come to work. One of the striking pieces is a 10' tall wolf puppet that was used in the Princess of the Stars- It had been mounted to a boat for that production as it was staged on a lake. The Audience would go to the lake front before dawn to watch the theatre piece. Part way through the performance this giant wolf lit from within would come floating across the lake calling and singing.

It is always interesting to see how the public react and interact with pieces like this in the context of a museum. This summer we ran camp, essentially around the feet of this representation of 'Fenris' (the camp kids called him 'Bruce' instead).

It was wonderful to have the kids creating art surrounded by designs of incredible things and those designs made solid.

This is an interesting and inspiring exhibit, on display until the end of January. Drop by and have a look when you get a chance

Thanks for looking