Today saw the start of workshops for our new art quilt and poetry project 'Sing me to Sleep'. The Wellspring Stockport, (A resource centre for homeless and disadvantaged people) played host to conversation, questions and sharing of samples. The theme 'Fairytales' has become more specifically the Fairytale Forest or Forest Fairytale if you like. It felt good to be talking about such an open subject, full of potential for creativity and to go in many directions, everyone had something to say.
|Sample stitching for 'Sing me to Sleep'|
Kenny doesn't remember any fairytales, but stories gathered from his experiences are so different than most of ours, they feel a perfect place to start.
" 2 or 3 years the longest I’ve spent out in the forest. I don’t need anyone. You keep yourself occupied collecting wood, food, water, kept active. I didn’t meet anyone, walkers would go past but never see me. I’d hunt at night, sleep in the day. There’s more fish at night, rabbits, deer, pheasant, partridges, I’d go to the edge of the wood and get wire from the farmer field for snares.
In Sherwood Forest, had no tent, got to make your own from two trees, a couple of branches, interwove with reeds, bracken for your bed. No sleeping bag, lay more bracken on top of yourself.
First thing when you get there is make your shelter, find food, find your water supply and make fire. The natural spring comes through limestone, so pure water. All I need is a knife or use a flint or slate. Used to skin the rabbits with a slate, stretch the skin out on a square frame made with reeds- as it dries out it doesn’t shrink, use it for gloves and boot covers. Used pheasant feathers to fish with, made a hook with barbed wire, you can always get barbed wire in the forest. Water containers made with rabbit skin, rubbed with pheasant fat to keep it water tight. I was taught by my grandfather.
The best thing in the world is to catch a Roe Deer and kill it. It’s an easy thing to do, you find the trail they take to water, dig a hole, cover it with bracken. Hide down wind under bracken so they can’t smell you, then jump down into the hole and with a big knife slit its throat. It tastes better when its been bleed. Cut it into thin strips, cook it then you can dry it and it would last for months. I’d eat every bit of it- used the antlers for tools, nothing was wasted. (used to work in a Slaughter House, so knew how to gut an animal and kill it.) After a while you wont smell to animals anymore, covered in animal skins, washing in the stream. (I still have all my skins)
Eat wild garlic, in winter there’s no garlic so dry it and use that, and wild mushrooms and dry them- gorgeous. If you watch the badgers at night they go after the truffles. The biggest treat? Grouse, put it on the spit. I’ve eaten all sorts, even squirrel. Never go hungry, a variety of meat- get sick of eating the same thing. Whilst drying one meat eat another one fresh with dandelion leaves. To dry the meat you cook it first then hang it up in the trees so animals cant get it. I had a little shelter so the meat wouldn’t get wet, but air could go through.
No one ever saw me because I was camouflaged. I smelt wild, gloves made out of rabbit skin, skins over my boots. Not a lot of people could live out there. I never used a torch in the dark, my eyes work better at night, during the day I wear glasses!
I never got ill out there, only when I’m inside do I get ill. If you cut yourself get some reeds and tie it round, if you hurt your ankle get two pieces of wood, tied together with reed.
When it rained that was the hardest time to hunt, the animals don’t come out. When it snowed its easier to find them and warmer with the snow and bracken. Any animal if you get their trust will come to you, sat down next to your shelter. (what does it feel like?) Free, a free life, its like the music of the woods, the birds, animals and bees.
What’s stopping me going back? Me health, if you’re out there you’ve got nobody if you die, nobodies going to find you, the animals will eat you. Even that doesn’t frighten me. My girlfriend says ‘I can find you in a building, but not in the woods.’"
|sample stitching for 'Sing me to Sleep.'|