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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Jelley

Huish Episcopi Creative Literacy Day

The Gather-ing exhibition is a response to tithe barns and their once essential place in our society.

Four artists were commissioned in 2015 with the addition of Mr Jelley to add a layer of interpretation to the whole. As part of the exhibition two of the artists are running workshops and yesterday Mr Jelley with Huish Episcopi Academy had a day of creative literacy and riddles stemming directly from the exhibits and museum.

Initially the session celebrated the works the artists had created, all drawing on maps, historical references, tithing and the building. The natural way into these areas of discussing were through the word pillars, each depicting the artists research as a 'word cloud'. The clouds are very simple but effective tools for visually sifting text into bite sized pieces, designed to illustrate the frequency of a word in text - the more often it occurs then then larger it becomes, means that the focus words are the largest in font size.

It was through this that the Year 7 pupils dipped into the research by asking what was meant by 'a bushel' or 'a tithe' or 'threshing'. The pupils then used the Word Hoard sheets to harvest words onto paper through rubbing, each selecting and choosing their own focus words which they felt represent the place and exhibition. It was really interesting to see their choices and how they placed them on the paper.

Later in the day pupils were also able to spend a little time in the museum, where we wrote riddles to identify 'keywords' pulled from the exhibits and museum galleries.

The Gather-ing installation at the Rural Life Museum will remain in Glastonbury until November 11th and includes a quilt from lead artist Stewart Easton which has a tapestry of sound woven inside. Jackie Oliver's metal works explore maps and implements, whilst Gillian Widden investigates measurements of tithing. Helen Snell, with the largest installation in the barn involves nine large hand made garden forks turning the earth on the ground, with a tenth at the back pointing upwards symbolically representing the tenth tithe for god.

Mr Jelley, as the fifth artist responded to the artists works themselves alongside the barn, and beside creating the word pillars he wrote a poem called Hollow Husk on the film above. The words are projected onto the raw stone of the barn interior as well as being available on the 'Word Hoard' sheet for visitors to rub the words and take away.

Here is a snippet for you to enjoy -

And what of today's idling hall

With no tithes left within these walls

Barn builders gone and long passed to dust

Shutters fixed up

Locks left to rust

Legacy left and cleft into this stone

Those guardians who scribbled

with tithe counting scratches

The same hands which threw open these latches

And ledgered and counted

Noted and numbered

Revelled and flouted

Harboured and lumbered

Perhaps the same in heart who gather here still

Though none proper soiled by the grist of this mill

But still honest selfless blood

With honourable thoughts

Upon hard this packed mud

Now it's ledgered and secured by our collective trust

Is this the final tithe of this hollow husk

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