The Stonemason’s Tale
Large-scale project which involved over 70% of Herefordshire's secondary schools - run in partnership with Hereford Cathedral.
The four hundred strong procession of dancers, artists, musicians and elaborate carnival structures parading through Hereford's High Town on Wednesday 29th June will have impressed onlookers.
But far from being a singular event, the colourful carnival parade and spectacular shows celebrating a thousand years of Hereford's fascinating history, were the culmination of an equally impressive year-long project complementing the recent renovation of Hereford Cathedral Close. The Stonemason's Tale united the historical, social and spiritual connections between the Cathedral Close and the people of Hereford. This was done through a series of specialist-led workshops for 11-14 year old students, offering schools a chance to explore National Curriculum subjects in a slightly different way, such as stone carving and film making, storytelling and photography, carnival arts, dance, music, drama and even the chance to build and use medieval siege catapults to explore science and maths, an
opportunity unsurprisingly popular with the pupils! Jo Henshaw, Close Connections Learning Plan Manager at the Cathedral, commented: "The enthusiasm, co-operation and stamina of all the young people, their teachers and the professional artists has been incredible."
The ambitious idea that became The Stonemason's Tale began in 2006, when Hereford Cathedral was putting together a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to support a project to renovate the Cathedral Close. Close Connections, a community educational activity project, was incorporated into the bid. Within it was The Stonemason's Tale, in which a host of outreach activities helped 11-14 year old students in Key Stage 3 to celebrate the Cathedral's history through music, drama and other platforms, assisted by Cathedral's partner in the project, Herefordshire' premier music charity THE MUSIC POOL. Without the invaluable help, talent and expertise of The Music Pool's Dennis Schiavon, Rob Strawson and Mina Nakamura, the project would not have been possible.
The project was ably and tirelessly led by experienced Artistic Director, Catherine Gilling and involved an astonishing 13 secondary schools across the county. Students enjoyed the rare opportunity to connect with the past through the activities available, exploring and discovering what life really was like for Herefordians in days gone by. The Stonemason's Tale truly showed the great artistic talent within Herefordshire.Cathedral Chancellor, Canon Chris Pullin was thrilled with the way the day's celbrations unfolded. "It was a huge project and we sometimes wondered whether we hadn't bitten off more than we could chew. However, hard work, great leadership and a wealth of experience to draw upon meant that it all came together perfectly. The dedication of all those involved was really inspirational."
The whole event was a truly memorable experience. Speaking after the event, Catherine said: "I was very lucky in having a very strong artistic team, all talented people in their own specialist areas. There was lots of support from schools in the county, from key link-teachers who embraced the idea and put a lot of time, effort and energy into the project."
Over twelve months, hard work came together in an extraordinarily successful effort, ensuring that participants and onlookers enjoyed a day to remember. As a result of their participation in the project to celebrate the heritage of Hereford and its Cathedral, all involved now have their own place in its fantastic and celebrated history.
Review by Tom Kennedy