Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Lancashire Folk Tales brought to Life in new City Museum exhibition

Come and meet Boggarts, Haunted Hares, and Talking Cats, and be immersed in windswept moorland, snow capped hills and icy becks at Lancaster City Museum later this month, when a touring exhibition of contemporary art based on Lancashire folklore, King of Cats, arrives on Saturday 21st March.

Taking its inspiration the folktales of Lancashire and responding to them with 21st century wit and wonder, spectral cats, unearthly black dogs and shape changing girls will haunt the exhibition – as will earthenware geese and, of course, the King of the Cats himself.

The 'King of Cats' is a touring exhibition, funded by Arts Council England and features a variety of artwork by five talented artists: Jacqueline Harris, Christopher Rainham, Julie Miles, Patricia Ramsden and Marjan Wouda.

"Our exhibition showcases the work of artists who have each been inspired to create art work for the exhibition, in their own style, inspired by local places, stories and folklore," Heather Dowler, Lancashire County Council's manager at the city museum explains.

"Visitors will be able to see a wide variety of creativity as their work ranges from more traditional paintings and drawings, to sculptures, videos and work in clay.

"Jacqueline Harris has also helped us with the stories we've used and will share them in her own way. Visitors can immerse themselves in the people and stories that inspired the exhibition and listen to recordings of new folk tales that are being told in Lancashire today."

The exhibition takes its name from a tradition is often heard in South Lancashire, a tale told of a gentleman who was sitting cosily in his parlour one evening when he was interrupted by the appearance of a cat, which came down the chimney, and called out, "Tell Dildrum, Doldrum's dead!"

He was naturally startled by the occurrence; and when, shortly afterwards, his wife entered, he told her what had happened, and their own cat, which had accompanied her, exclaimed, "Is Doldrum dead?" and immediately rushed up the chimney, and was heard of no more.

Of course there were numberless conjectures upon such a remarkable event, but the general opinion appears to be that Doldrum had been king of cat-land, and that Dildrum was the next heir.

The exhibition will be supported by accompanying artist workshops:

Bookarts with artist Patricia Ramsden on Sunday 12th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Spend a day exploring the delights and challenges of book arts. Using a range of folding and sewing techniques you will explore variations to create a collection of simple book forms that can be used for collecting ideas, sketching, notes and can be taken away to be expanded on by the participants.

Suitable for all who would like to explore creating their own books, paper folding and 3D techniques. Teachers who are looking at Design and Technology and Art modules and exploring creative ways of documentation within literacy.

Patricia’s background is in Fine Art and she would describe herself as a multidisciplinary artist who uses a wide range of media to communicate her art in a contemporary way. She is process led and works from ‘Valley Artists Studios‘ in Rossendale. Her work reflects a sense of historical documentation. Recent work incorporates printmaking and text based installations.

Level: Suitable for all levels of experience including those new to book arts. All materials and tools will be provided for use within the workshop.

King of the Cats – Storytelling for Literacy'with artist Jacqueline Harris on Wednesday 15th April 10am – 4pm

Suitable for teachers at Key Stage 2, this one day course will provide a solid grounding in how to use storytelling techniques to develop children’s literacy skills. It will look at ideas and strategies for supporting children to create and tell their own stories. In the morning it will focus on ways to develop and tell oral stories. In the afternoon it will concentrate on how to encourage children to use these skills as a basis for developing written pieces and explore techniques to help them gain the confidence and motivation to put pen to paper. Included in the workshop fee will be a booklet outlining the techniques used and a list of available resources.

Jacqueline Harris is a storyteller, writer, drama practitioner and creative learning consultant who believes that we are all storytellers and that through engaging with stories we can become aware of and explore our creativity. She has freelanced across the education sector from Key Stage 1 – HE for fourteen years and previously taught in secondary education where she has been Head of Drama in three schools.

Art by Julie Miles
Characterful Creature Creations with artist Julie Miles on Sunday 19th April 10am – 4pm

Join Julie in this workshop to explore her imagination and learn how she creates her creatures in clay. From exploring the King of the Cats exhibition as a starting point to create your own characters from the tales using scribbles and sketches.

From there you will learn how to create your own clay heads from a single sheet of clay. Manipulating, pushing and forming this versatile material into one of the characters from the stories or creating a character of your own.

No experience needed - just enthusiasm and a little imagination. Suitable for teaching literacy using it as a starting point in class for creative writing, Design technology for use of tools and Art.

Julie's work has always been inspired by nature and landscape around her and is probably best know for her exquisite porcelain sculptures of natural objects or porcelain vessels. Julie creates larger scale installation pieces for exhibitions and display, including a full size cloak of ceramics crow feathers to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the Pendle witch Trials. Level: suitable for beginners to the more advanced in clay techniques. All techniques will be taught step by step so don’t be shy and come and play. All other tools and materials will be provided for use in the workshop.

Interview with Artist Julie Miles from Arteach UK on 'The King of the Cats' Touring Exhibition

Marjan Wouda
Clay the Wouda Way with artist Marjan Wouda on Sunday 26th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Starting with a brief exploration of the sculptures in the King of the Cats exhibition Marjan will lead you into the making a number of clay animal sculptures. Marjan will reveal her very own, original approach to the subject, exploring posture, bone structure and surface texture.

You will enjoy discovering new ways with clay, experimenting with imprinted and moulded textures, and developing your confidence of working with clay.

By the end of the day you will have made several small pieces which will be fired by the artist. This one day workshop is particularly suited to teachers keen to develop their confidence working in three dimensions. All you need to bring is: your pinny and your camera.

Suitable for teaching literacy using it as a starting point in class for creative writing, Design technology for use of tools and Art.

Perhaps best known for her bronzes and welded metal public sculptures, Marjan Wouda’s first love – in art – is clay. It is this medium that allowed her to find her voice and make sculpture in a way that is uniquely hers. Level: Suitable to all levels of ability from beginners to experienced sculptors and potters. All tools and materials will be provided

• Listen to Sculptor, Marjan Wouda Sculpture​ podcast interview, talk about her work and the touring exhibition 'The King of the Cats'

Art by Christopher Rainham
Rain Washes and Resist Moors with artist Christopher Rainham on Wednesday 29th April 10.00am – 4.00pm

Join international artist and illustrator Christopher Rainham and discover and develop your painting and drawing skills. Inspired by The King of Cats exhibition you will explore a broad range of techniques and approaches using a selection of drawing materials and acrylic paint. Use scraffitto to create a windswept moorland landscape, create a flock of Starlings with stencils and masks or explore washes and resists to describe a looming sky full of rain.

Christopher Rainham’s work has always been inspired by his experience of the natural world, and the way flora and fauna is woven into language, the explanations of things, stories and beliefs. Animals and flowers and birds are often characters in myths and religious writings, used as metaphors for things we can’t explain.

Level: Suitable for teachers looking at literacy starting points and Art modules. For all levels of ability this workshop will give those who have never used acrylic paint an expressive toolkit of techniques to guide their creative endeavours and expand the approaches of those familiar with the medium to find new ways to create images. All other tools and materials will be provided for use in the workshop.  

• The King of Cats runs until Sunday 17th May 2015. Entry to the museum is free but costs apply for the workshops. Opening times are 10am to 5pm, Tuesday to Sunday. The museum is run by Lancashire County Council on behalf of Lancaster City Council. 

• For more information about the exhibition or the workshops telephone 01524 64637 or email Alternatively, visit

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