Guest blog from Dr Stephanie Bunn, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology, University of St Andrew’s about the Woven Communities Project work at Iochdar school on Tuesday 22nd Nov 16
We went to Iochdar School as part of our great collaboration with An Lanntair and we told them about all the work we have been doing gathering marram grass and about all of the work we have been doing across Scotland. We wanted to set up a new phase of the project here, which was working with the children as well as with the elders in the care homes.
The children came in, at first 9-10 year olds. They made little rope-y simmens things out of marram grass and then they graduated to windlasses, which was fab and we started to make ropes of 10-20 feet long. Maybe I’m exaggerating but they enjoyed the effect of the twisting into rope all by itself and the colours. They enjoyed measuring it against themselves and testing the strength of the rope with a tug of war and lifting heavy objects with it, such as chairs.
We then tried the pleating, testing their technique on each others’ hair while waiting to have a go for themselves.
This afternoon, we thought it might be similar but it turned out to be quite different. We stated with some gentle twining but instead of developing into coloured rope, they were enjoying the natural marram grass so much that they wanted to keep going. And they kept going and kept going and kept going, until they had backed themselves along corridors and into cupboards! They completely went for it – used it for limboing, moving furniture, not for skipping……yet!
Even the CEO of An Lanntair turned up, Elly Fletcher. She had a go herself and she said ‘It’s very relaxing, isn’t it?’.
The children came up with some brilliant questions and ideas, led their own learning very much with their own thoughts and sharing ideas. One boy thought he had a marram grass chair at home, so that would be exciting. Watch this space!