Mudcat Café message #3159723 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138058   Message #3159723
Posted By: Jack Campin
24-May-11 - 10:33 AM
Thread Name: British Folk Art
Subject: RE: British Folk Art
The sort of celebrations Doc Rowe documents are a kind of folk performance art. We have one coming up in our village in a couple of weeks, the Newtongrange Children's Gala. It's not all that old (since the 20s, I think), like the other galas that take place in Midlothian villages during the summer. The structure is fake mediaeval - kinds from local primary schools are selected to be the gala king and queen, with a "court" of a couple of dozen other kids.

The artistic side is something else. The families of kids chosen for one of these ceremonial roles will decorate the frontage of their house in a theme of some sort. If you look at my house on Google Street View (11 Third Street, EH22 4PU) you will see across the street that the house there (number 24) has a sign saying "Liam - Page Boy". That's all that was left of their front garden being decorated as a zoo, with papier mache and plastic animals several feet high (the Google car came by two weeks after Gala Day). The house behind us once turned their porch into the stern of the sinking Titanic with the whole front of the house shrouded in black binbags to look like hull plating. Our neighbours a few years ago filled their front garden with sand, added 12-foot plywood palm trees and built a plywood Egyptian temple entrance over their front door. The most inspired one I can recall was the house across the street that turned their front garden into a scaled-up model aquarium, with fish several feet long whose scales were made out of hundreds of overlapping green and silver CDs.

The village supermarket always used to run out of toilet paper despite ordering a couple of extra pallet loads. People make floral wreaths out of it that form arches and lines along their iron fences. The trick is to keep it covered with clingfilm until the last minute in case it rains.

All this display is just for the Saturday of the gala and it's nearly all gone by Sunday night.