Collecting cabinet from the Natural History Museum, London; ‘hatchling’ stories from Spinney Primary School four and five year olds; leaves and pine needles; blank paper and pens; an invitation to open and continue the stories in the cabinet
The second invitation in our Wild Woods exhibition recognised a fundamental language of discovery – the narrative language of story-making and fantasy play. The four and five year olds we worked with back in February were fluent in this language, though their physical adventuring in the woods was so strong we often heard stories only afterwards, as experiences were re-told and re-imagined in drawing, modelling, and collage.
Children can become prolific authors in the woods, telling story after story. With this group stories were ‘caught’ in the middle of play, or discovered in phrases and single sentences when we went back through our notebooks. For the exhibition I took these ‘hatchling’ stories, wrapped them in leaf cocoons (that also brought to mind the predictions in fortune cookies), and placed them in one of the cabinets. There was an open invitation at the exhibition and during the family workshops the next day, to hatch an existing story, give it imaginative flight, and offer a new story in response.
Some of the ‘hatchlings’:
Lucy: Because this is just a magic house and only we are allowed to sleep in it
Billy P: I’ve got this so if I get stuck I can do this and get out
Adam: I like the magic house too but I don’t know where it is
Ashleigh: We’re trapped. We’re getting cooked. Pretend everything was locked and we was cooking. Pretend this was your ship and we were all baddies
Andrei: This is a snake which is soooooo big, this was on the branch. The sun is dead. A fireball crashed into it
Shawnie: But the wild woods are not there next week
Kelvin (watching a worm): It’s a snake. When will it be a snake?
Noel: Over here the river…over here the spider