Let’s Imagine a Dragon!

To discover what local residents want to see and take part in at St George’s Festival on 21 April 2024 in March, we delivered a creative consultation event called ‘Let’s Imagine a Dragon!’ Free and fun drop-in creative activities for all ages at March Library were designed to inspire play, creativity and imagination. We used the opportunity to showcase and celebrate this year’s festival, showing films featuring the parade dragon displayed in all its glory and including specially composed music by young people.

Residents were invited to interact with artists and designers including Ricki Outis, Carey Outis, Liz Falconbridge and Karin Forman at ten different stations and get hands-on with giant neon green chickens, willow crocodiles, giant skeletons, digital dragons, a poetry scavenger hunt, and more… 

Thomas Lawes, a Babylon Young Associate, showed how to draw and design your own dragon on an I-pad with Tag Tool, which could then join a ‘digital family of dragons’ projected onto the wall for all to see.

Several parents bringing their children to the library said they thought they would spend half an hour at the event, but ended up spending 3 hours, having fun themselves and watching their children dress up as mice and strawberries!

The day wasn’t just designed for children and families, it was a day which inspired everyone. Even those reluctant to take part couldn’t resist trying on Mandinga Arts’ magical puppet costumes and become someone else for a few minutes!

The young people from 20Twenty Productions came along and were hugely inspired by the creative activities, especially having fun dressing up as hyenas and zebras with Mandinga Arts. Charles, the puppet creator, was on hand to explain how the puppets were developed and made – from initial ideas, to mock ups, to the real deal!

People added their ideas for next year’s festival, as well as which activities they most enjoyed to maps created by artist Carey Outis and Beth Haysom from Babylon Arts. 

350 people came through the doors. It was wonderful to see everyone laughing, having fun and letting go in a safe, warm environment – on a very wet and windy day! 

The community voice is shaping our planning of creative activities for the festival. We are now pulling together ideas for pre-festival workshops and on-the-day activities based on feedback from local people such as let’s have:

  • Drawing and painting
  • Making dragons on the Ipad
  • Shadow puppets
  • Animated dragon drawings
  • Puppetry workshop with stuff to try on and do
  • Wildlife and dragon-inspired costumes
  • Dragon cake making
  • Storytelling
  • A choir
  • Escape room
  • Dragon egg rolling
  • Willow sculptures

‘Imagine a Dragon’ has already inspired the local secondary school to ask Mandinga Arts to put together workshops for them to create dragon heads for the parade next April.

“It was fun and amazing” – participant

“The day went brilliantly! There was so much laughter! Families seemed really engaged, even the ones that were a bit reluctant because of the word poetry’’ – Charley Genever, Poet

Many thanks to Fenland District Council and March Library for helping and hosting, and to our other partners on the St George’s Festival committee.

Peggy Mends, Creative Producer, Fenland

St George’s Day Creative Launch

Join us at March Library on 4 November from 11:30 – 3pm to play, explore and have fun with free drop-in creative activities and live demos for all ages led by local artists at our Creative Launch for St George’s Festival, 2024.

Meet a mesmerising Mandinga Arts custom-made puppet creature and try on costumes. Join Carey Outis as he shows you how to make puppets from willow and invites you to paint your own section of his dragon drawing. Choose materials and fabric with Ricki Outis and develop your own ideas for a St George’s Day parade costume.

Create shadow puppets with Liz Falconbridge and Karin Forman. Interact with the books in the library with poet Charley Genever, and ‘find’ words to complete a special poem. Try out a Tag Tool activity and create your own digital artwork with MarketPlace’s Creative Producer Louise Eatock.

Post your thoughts on the ideas wall of what you would like to see and do for St George’s Festival next April. Tell us which activities you most enjoyed at the Creative Launch – and if you missed this year’s Festival you can enjoy filmed highlights – or relive your favourite moments!

Wisbech Rose Fair

This year was the 60th anniversary of the Wisbech Rose Fair. After a few dormant years due to covid, events were set up around the town centre for the Fair’s return.

Free art activities were set up by MarketPlace in the courtyard of Wisbech & Fenland Museum. We supported the public to create an interactive, giant sculptural cross-stitch on the fences, plus communal stitching onto hessian fabric. We also provided the materials and support to make an artificial flower crown for people to keep.

Artist Karin Forman was there to facilitate the activities along with the MarketPlace team. Free cross stitch beginner packs were also given out to those who were interested to continue learning the craft at home. 

We also listened to the community about their ideas and what they would like at future events. There were lots of conversations, with feedback, insights and the forging of new community relationships.

Chatteris Midsummer Festival

This year’s Chatteris Midsummer Festival was a fabulous hot weekend of parades, stalls, exhibitions and performances from wonderful local groups and organisations. MarketPlace was invited by the Town Council to provide a range of free activities to correspond with this year’s theme – Roaring Twenties. 

We co-created a 1920’s photo booth with local photography group F-stop Camera Club, where people could dress up and have their photo taken against a beautiful 1920’s inspired backdrop. We were able to print the photos for people to take home with them or send them via email after the event. 

Some local knitters and crocheters also joined the tent, providing a taster into how to knit and crochet, while our Programme Director Susie showed people how to quilt a hexagonal brooch. We also handed out some beginner crochet kits. Artist Karen Forman put together activities for all the family, supporting people to create 1920’s flapper headbands and Art Deco suncatchers. 

We were asked to be one of the judges for the parade alongside Katherine from 20Twenty Productions. Prizes were awarded for best dressed adult group, best dressed children’s group and best individual along with other categories. The community groups put the costumes together themselves and all made such a wonderful effort.

The MarketPlace tent was buzzing all day. Members of the public were already keen to hear about our involvement next year and discussed setting up their own quilting groups.  Smiles and laughter were all around at this year’s fair – we can’t wait for the next one!