A dry morning in the woods. I didn’t know what to expect. It was billed as “art in the woods”. We started off foraging. First looking for “Y” shaped branches or twigs, not too big, not too brittle. We left them in a pile by some tree trunks that are good for sitting on. Then more foraging: ferns and feathers, leaves and anything that caught the eye. It’s good to look – that’s how you see things.
Back at the tree trunks the children full of energy, not keeping still, talking of computer games, guns, fairies and made-up words. There were balls of coloured wool. We were told to tie wool to the base of our twiggy “Y”s and wrap it around each side of the “Y” in a figure of 8. And then to repeat, going up the twigs, keeping it taut. I was doing it far too close. I decided to leave bigger gaps like the other people. We were then told to weave a different colour up and down, in and out of our taut strands. Hmm, my twigs were too flexible and everything lost tension. By my third attempt I was getting the warp taut across the Y-loom. Now for the weft (or woof): wool, feathers, ferns,… I knew the words, just not the practice. My big fingers struggled in the tiny gaps down by the join of the Y. And I should have brought my reading glasses.
Looking up there was an impressive old beech right behind me. The trunks were surprisingly comfortable to sit on. A young girl was wrapping a mazy bundle of different coloured wools around her loom, totally absorbed while chatting to the new friend she had just made. A young boy had gathered cones (“alien eggs”: he explained to me later, all aliens are bad and you have to shoot first without any attempt at first contact) around which he was concocting an alien story with wool, guns and twigs. Some adults were discussing mutual friends they had just discovered who had grown up in the south of the county. We hung our artistic offerings on a small tree struggling for light in the shade of the majestic beech. What a wandering anthropologist or visiting alien would make of them I have no idea.