Why fairy tales?

First published on November 2011.

The world is changing dynamically and within our lifetimes. This much is uncontroversial. The human population of the planet has tripled within half a century. Our gung ho plundering of environmental assets from deforestation to the fishing industry is changing the face of our present, let alone our future. Meanwhile, reflecting this irresponsible stripping of our future assets, our financial systems are in a mortal cycle of borrowing as they create Ponzi mirages of ephemeral wealth in a growing desert.

All this seems rather pessimistic, you’re thinking. Shouldn’t we be speaking of something more cheerful, more optimistic? Forgetting the scary soothsayers of doom, sipping our drinks and giving thanks for our delightful present? Yes, of course. Life is to be lived as pleasurably as possible. We are incredibly lucky to find ourselves alive at this moment in the cycle of life on earth.

My partner Gavin Turk and I have set up ‘The House of Fairy Tales’ as our contribution to the resistance movement against this apocalyptic future. This is our Trojan Horse – a travelling art circus where anything is possible and nothing is as it seems…

The children and families who enter our worlds sign up to play a sophisticated and complex game where the rules are open and anarchic.

There are no obvious right and wrong answers but there are definite rewards if you know how to seek them with concentration on the tasks in hand. There are often devil’s advocates hidden in our midst, encouraging the debate, persuading children to behave in devious ways – to believe in sweets – and in the past we have even had a false Guild of Witches encouraging no teeth brushing. This, together with the child- centred approach, ensures that the children themselves discover moral codes and motivations for themselves. Our audience, whoever they are, or whatever background, become entranced by the attention and focus their imagination.

The shared aim of all the artists and creatives we work with is to open the minds of our audiences – requiring them to question and explore; to feel confident about their own imagination or opinion; to enjoy the pleasure of research without getting bored; to try new skills without feeling stupid; to engage with complete strangers, even though they may be shy; to recognise the importance of being challenged sometimes – even a little scared. Emotions such as fear and anger are valued in our events as much as pleasure and fun. By exploring these emotions in a safe environment, we encourage our future generations and their adults to feel fully themselves in an interconnected world – and by doing so, they are more likely to take responsibility for this precious planet in which we exist.

Creative Commons LicenceCreativity Money Love: Learning for the 21st Century by Creative & Cultural Skills is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Illustrations by Paul Davis - http://copyrightdavis.blogspot.com/