“Join the Mayhem!” was the call for schools and families to get involved in the University’s new May Festival which ran on campus last week. We were one of the venues involved and we ran a new schools workshop and had a Family Fun workshop on Saturday. It was a busy week!
Both the schools workshop and the Family Fun were based on the Amy Laws letters, which we’ve talked about before (see our posts on the SCA project with St Peter’s Primary School and the Arts Across Learning Festival). The Laws letters feature in the current Wanderlust exhibition in the gallery, so it seemed perfect timing for working with them further.
We had P6/7 from Woodside Primary School visit us for the schools workshop, which was developed from the schools sessions we did earlier this year. The children used drama and creative writing to re-imagine the Laws family’s life on the mission station in Nyasaland (now Malawi), and to explore the emotions and feelings surrounding Amy’s being sent to live in Edinburgh with an aunt at the age of seven. The children were very interested in seeing the original letters and hearing some of them read aloud, and really got into the character of Amy when it came to writing a letter from Amy to her parents. There was also much hilarity when they enacted the long journey one of the Laws’ letters would have taken from Nyasaland to Edinburgh!
Our “African Animal Attack!” Family Fun session continued on the Laws theme, this time exploring the exciting accounts of wild animal attacks in the letters. The letters are full of them, as the mission station was surrounded by lions, leopards and hyenas. One of the surprising things, reading the letters, is that neither Robert nor Maggie Laws appears to soften the details about these stories for Amy, despite her young age. Their descriptions are sometimes very graphic! I suppose she had grown up in that environment and knew the reality of it, so reading about some of the injuries people incurred from the lion and leopard attacks would not distress her as it might some children.
At Family Fun the children made animal masks, using images of traditional animal masks from various African countries as inspiration. You can see more photos of the masks they made on our Flickr page.
Our next Family Fun is on Saturday June 15th, from 1-4pm, when we’ll be making fantasy maps. As usual it’s a free, drop-in session. Hope to see you there!
Posted by: Sarah