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Door four / advent calendar


On the soul of materials


I would like to share a story from a few years ago when I ran an Easter camp for children from 5 to 7 at Airfield farm. I love it and so remember it often.

The weeklong camp which I named “chasing butterflies” was a multidisciplinary exploration of growing and the natural world, using puppetry, rituals and the natural materials and inspiration we found in the surrounding gardens and farmland. In the course of the week, we made magical eggs, then caterpillars, cocoons and- of course- butterflies. Using mostly natural materials which were transformed not only by means of crafts, but also by the attention of thought we put into these little objects, stories and tales we created around them and shared in circle times.

On the image we see the “caterpillars” placed around the tree that, on the next day, would become home to their cocoons.


A week or so after the workshop Sile who then was arts officer at the place told me this: Two days after finishing the arts camp, a parent and very sad child came back to look for the child´s caterpillar creature which she had forgotten. Luckily, the big blue bin bag was still in the workshop space, filled with bits of paper, sticks and branches, fluff and stuff. The three pulled out all the rubbish, routing through its contents, the adults holding up sticks with bits of papers stuck to them, “is this it?” often the child would sadly shake her head. Magically and thankfully they found the very little wanted stick at the bottom of the pile and the child could bring her caterpillar back home.


This little episode is just one of many that show how big the role is that imagination plays in a child´s perception of the world around. Dead material, transformed into something valuable through sheer attention, can evoke feelings as real as a relationship to a person would. It also shows the importance of respecting the children´ s feeling and their view on things.

I´m sure anyone living, or working with kids can tell many tales and examples of the power of imagination and its manifestation. I just like this story particularly because of the big fulI bin bag and because of the miracle of finding “the needle in a haystack”. I also was very happy and impressed to hear that the parent had understood the distress of the child on losing a little piece of wood, got in a car and made the way back to the venue as they would have for a forgotten pair of wellies. I think that s brilliant.

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