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A Dragon in The Spinney!

National Play Day at The Spinney Playground always produces something creative. This year the bright energy of young people helped create a special Carnival Dragon that we hope will appear as part of other future community events.

Meeting the Dragon…

It’s always a privilege to offer something creative for the young peoples and families who attend National Play Day at The Spinney, an adventure playground that is a gem in Wisbech.

Fenland & East Cambs artist, Cary Outis, had already begun work on a Carnival Dragon head on another project. Sadly that project didn’t find its way to the finish line but we felt the National Play Day would give us the opportunity to introduce the Carnival Dragon idea and involve children, young people and their families in painting, decorating and building the much-needed body.

The creative challenge was to build segments of the Dragon body making hoops with willow withies (the carnival artists’ staple ingredient). Then carry out a good ol’ tie-dye process by winding elastic bands round the cloth and splashing with special fabric dye.

It was fascinating to see how enthusiastic young minds were to take part in the repetitive task of tieing elastic bands onto the cloth. Understanding the process, curiosity and imagination came to the fore with young children enjoying working with their parents in creative teams.

The Magic of Making

The artistic process seemed to fascinate those who joined us. The yellow, orange and red colours created a stir and there were raised eyebrows and a few giggles when Cary told the young creators…

“right now we have to roll it up like a sausage and then we put it in the microwave!”

The concentration and focus of the young people was impressive. A group of teenage girls stayed with us for over an hour or more – painting, building and helping to display the dragon around the playground.

Those creative conversations…

We had agreed with Playworkers, Violet and Rachel, that we would refresh the always ongoing community conversation about what arts and creative activity could take place in and around the playground. And also encourage local people to become ‘Friends of The Spinney’ to help put on community events and support the team. After 2 years of Covid it was refreshing to meet people face to face and enjoy talking to them.

One family loved the idea of gymnastics and trampolining. “Could that be part of something like a Circus?” Colin asked.

“Ooh, yeah that would be fab!” said Mum, “You could have things like the dragon with acrobats, clowns and dancers and all sorts”.

That’s the sort of creative thinking we like.

Other families loved music. Drumming was a suggestion. Samba drumming perhaps? Smiles and raised eyebrows. Circus and carnival ideas beginning to emerge?

Crossing the Border

Our West Suffolk Community Producer, Louise Eatock, came across the Fens to spend the day helping create the Carnival Dragon and have her first experience of The Spinney.

Louise was thrilled and amazed at the potential of the Playground to be a vibrant and lively community venue. Louise’s skills as a teacher and now Producer for Newmarket Community Arts were a great help.

With a big smile she said:

The atmosphere was so friendly and seeing families enjoying the location and activities was lovely. And the play team were brilliant. It was a real thrill to be part of it.

Inevitably the excitement and enjoyment of young people feeds off onto the adults. Louise was excited about the idea of creating Carnival events across the Fenland & West Suffolk region with communities in different towns being encouraged to support one another’s events as they happen.

We’re excited too and now the challenge is keeping the conversation going with community members keen to talk about creative activities in the towns where they live.

Oh… the Dragon needs a name. Any ideas?

Thanks to Dan Donovan for the photography ©MarketPlace2022