Thursday, 25 March 2010

Odd Fellows

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


  1. I love these things, glad you got the burry man of Queensferry. The Beltain festival on Carlton hill, Edinburgh on April 30th/ Mayday is also amazing for costume and sound.

  2. Thanks Hazel! I've just checked out the Carlton Hill festival - didn't know anything about it - amazing!

  3. Wow, I had never heard about these fabulous characters and their amazing attire!! I feel really left out as non-indigenous Australians have Santa and...??? oh, and the new tradition of the Sydney G & L Mardi Gras.


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