Another community workshop, and another chance to observe how people react to Barry Mill! This time the session was aimed at families, and the challenge was to collaborate on a poem or short story inspired by the five senses, although colour and memory could just about be allowed to sneak in there as a means to an end.
Lots of (very enjoyable) planning went into this one. Not only did we have the sounds and textures of the mill to play around with, but I’d smuggled in some outside help. Can you describe the piquant aroma of nutmeg or the fresh burst of mint and rosemary? We had art materials too…and the children soon got busy ‘chalk-rubbing’ (similar to brass rubbing but messier) the various surfaces to be found in the mill: the iron mesh of the kiln floor, the ridges and whorls of the slate flagstones, the pitted grittiness of the millstones. Very soon the kids resembled our legendary miller in last week’s poem, pale little chalk dust and flour ghosts!
But words came too! Lots of exciting poems, haiku and amazingly inventive stories. If I’d learned anything from that first ‘Weir-d Walk’, it was to expect the unexpected. Children have a very different take on their surroundings at times. I’d brought along magnifying glasses and torches, intending them to get ‘up close and personal’ with the mill; the silvery pencil inscriptions to be found on every bit of timber; the glittering cobwebs at the kiln window. They did enjoy that, but what interested me the most was their enjoyment of danger! Their conversation revolved around the big vistas- the sheer drop from our fairytale bridge (there ARE trolls underneath, in case you were wondering), the sensation of being pushed by the wind at the top of the outside staircase…and what if you fell down through the kiln floor into the fire pit?
What if…? Isn’t that the question that provokes the very best writing?
Until next time…watch out for trolls…