The Hastings Jack-in-the-Green - seen here
I've been pondering Nick Cave's Soundsuits and watching him talk with the curator at the Fowler Museum at UCLA in Los Angeles in my earlier post. For me it flags up important issues about the traditions of UK culture too. The idea of the costumed parade is pretty universal but I so often hear people slating our folk traditions; the Morris men et al, but these are our own extraordinary 'soundsuit' traditions. Jeremy Deller and Alan Kane in their 2005 Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK brought the idea of 'popular art' (i.e. people's art) back to the table and posed some interesting and challenging questions about the function of art in our times, and the dislocation many people feel from the institution of art and the 'artworld' (in an Arthur Danto sense) - not least of which being Jeremy Deller's own credentials as a Turner Prize winner.
I remember serendipitously being in Hastings one year during the weekend May Day festival, we had no idea it was happening, we got caught up in the parade and watched the Jack-in-the-Green and his attendants processing down the street. We have many of these fabulous, riotous bizarre traditions in the UK and Ireland; here's a few characters - they fascinate me endlessly.
Y Fari Lwyd (The Mari Lwyd) - Brecon, Wales - seen here
The Padstow Hobby Hoss - Cornwall, England - seen here
The Marshfield Mummers - Gloucestershire, England - seen here
The Burry Man - Queensferry, Scotland - seen here
The Wren Boys - Carrigaline, Ireland - seen here