I’m putting together my family festivals guide and getting rather excited about more than a few of the London events, such as the upcoming Urban Village Fete in Greenwich.
This FREE family festival puts a modern spin on the traditional village fair with workshops, street food trucks, craft and designer maker marketplace, swing dance, pooch parades and more. We love the sound of DJ sets with Gilles Peterson and special guests spinning on top of a London Routemaster; and kids workshops led by family arts charity, House of Fairytales.
Babes about Town caught up with Deborah Curtis, one of the founders of House of Fairytales to chat about the fete, storytelling, and time travel. Enjoy!
Q&A with Deborah Curtis of House of Fairytales
Who dreamt up the House of Fairy Tales?
Gavin Turk, my husband came up with the name for our debut event at The Port Eliot Festival in 2006. It was inspired by the late Jago Eliot who was a magician and teller of tales. The work we had been doing for many years prior to that was with our former charity ‘Supernova’. We do theatrical, narrative based events for children as well as residencies, trails and publications. All our work is a visual feast, thanks to the number of artists we work with.
Why are fairy tales so important to you?
We don’t often work directly with traditional Fairy Tales but are inspired by the nature of social and community storytelling with magical transformative ingredients heavy on the imagination.
What is your philosophy on play and how it relates to children, families and the world at large?
We all learn most effectively through play and our education system doesn’t always reflect that. As we grow older and more institutionalised through cultural and educational influences we lose our playful side.
The House of Fairy Tales reminds the families and professionals responsible for the care and education of children as well as the children themselves how much fun you can have in making and doing and thinking for yourself.
How have you developed and nurtured your network of over 700 creatives?
We have done so many events and projects all over the country often with hundreds of volunteers on our team. This enables us to continually grow our networks. The artists and creatives we work with regularly tell us that they get as much out of the experience as the children and families themselves. They love working so freely, improvising and experimenting with other artists. But most of all they say that they are always surprised by the lucid, experimental and liberating imagination of the young mind. It always informs and develops their practice. Many of the creatives we work with have never worked in an interactive way before or at least not with such a wide base of support from other creatives. Working on our projects has transformed the practice, approach and professionalism of so many of our collaborators.
What are the most fun projects you’ve worked on so far?
The last project we have done is always the most fun – we just reinvented a political system at The Other Art Fair in Bloomsbury and before that we invented a new species ‘The Giant Ogulon’ for Hauser & Wirth in Somerset.
What is your favourite fairy tale for kids?
I have always loved Hansel and Gretel because it is super scary and creepy but is a story of 2 ordinary kids and their brave and resourceful imaginations. There is also a fantastic female role model (as well as some mean archetypal stereotypes). This is unusual in classic fairy tales.
And for grown-ups?
Cheating a bit, I would go for a more recent and ‘authored’ tale in Oscar Wilde’s Selfish Giant because it reminds us adults of the value of childhood as well as sharing with others. Both are key messages for our contemporary world.
How can busy parents/families add more magic to their daily lives?
Find time to make stuff that the whole family can learn. Go for a walk in the woods, the local park or even down your own street and discover places where the enchanted folk might live, as well as the mischievous imps.
What type of adventures can we expect at Urban Village Fete?
We will be reinventing the Media at the Urban Village Fete from a child’s eye perspective. So we will be going on psychogeographical Dérives like the Dada Surrealists, interviewing Giants as well as finding the magical stories in the strange contemporary landscape around the O2 arena.
You describe Space Flight as your special power. Where’s the last place you flew to?
We travel through all 15 dimensions as well as Time and Space so we live in a parallel universe most of the time.
House of Fairytales will be at Urban Village Fete, The Gateway Pavilions, Peninsula Square. Greenwich Peninsula, SE10 0SQ (Cutty Sark DLR/Greenwich rail). 12pm-7pm, FREE entry (May 10) www.urbanvillagefete.co.uk