Turning Bones into Boats…

Part of my job is delivering the Make a WishBone workshops in the community as part of our Dry Bones Live community arts project.  I always enjoy these sessions; it’s good to meet and talk to new people, hear their views on heritage and the city and what we should do with the buildings. Older people often have stories about the buildings, memories of visiting as a child, or of family connections; young people often ask the most challenging questions. (“Why doesn’t every church have a crypt?”).  It is always a delight to see how creative both adults and children can be with how they decorate their WishBones and the messages they write.

I wish the world didn't need money

Last week I was at Robinswood Primary Academy making WishBones with the children as part of their Art Week.  We had some thoughtful discussions about what community means, how it is connected to heritage and why it might be good to take care of both.  When it came to making the bones we had a lovely time with paint and glittery sequins.  Then we had to put them together.  Now anybody who has tried one of our templates will know that the card is rather stiff and it is quite hard to roll it up and staple it together in to the shaft of the bone.  Even quite dexterous adults have difficulty. One little boy was struggling with his, but was determined to do it onhis own.  After a couple of failed attempts (and a lot of paint on both him and the table) he came up with a creative solution: he stapled the ends together to make a kind of boat. It turned out that the bone ends then slotted very neatly at each end to produce……a WishBone Boat. I smiled and thought how much Jake Lever, the artist who developed Dry Bones Live with us, would enjoy this migration from bone to boat.  The idea, after all, was a journey; the bones were to carry all our wishes into the future. I imagined them floating away down a swiftly-moving stream. It seemed very appropriate.

The bone boat caught on quickly with the other children (and adult helpers) as it was much easier and quicker to put it together that way.  At the end of the session our own Ship of Bones was filled up with smaller bone boats each carrying a special wish.  I wish to be a unicorn. I wish to be rich. I wish my mum felt better. I wish everybody had lots to eat and drink. I wish to be an artist. I wish to be a professional footballer. I wish we didn’t need money for anything. I wish…

I wish…we could all solve problems so creatively.

Community Engagement Officer

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