I was delighted to hold an in person John Blanke Live! Workshop , with my partner the artist Ebun Culwin for the first time in almost two years at Hythe Town Hall, as part of Folkestone’s Black History Month OriginsUntold. However the weather was not the most delightful. It was indeed a very dark and stormy night in Hythe. It had been a real Kent coast stormy day with furious winds driving torrential rain. Our hopes were not high for a great turn out – we were wrong, very wrong! We had a really good turnout of young and old, men and women.
I followed the usual workshop five-part format: one - introduce the history behind the project, the Westminster Tournament Roll and John Blanke, two - how the Project was a response to those who couldn’t imagine a Black trumpeter at Henry VIII's court, three - examples of contributions to the Project from historians and artists, four – workshop attendees led by Ebun create their own images from their imagination of John Blanke, five – mini symposium with each attendee discussing how they imagined their John Blanke. You can see their results in the video below:
If measured by the comments made while drawing the event went well for example ’this is inspiring’, ‘well worth coming out in spite of the horrible weather’ (a numb er of people said that) , ‘loved having someone help’, ‘I’m loving this’ , ‘this is brilliant’ , ‘fantastic to know about John Blanke, I had no idea’, ‘it’s great being with these other people drawing John Blanke’, ‘what a lovely atmosphere here’, ‘I love the idea of my uncle being John Blanke’, ‘it’s nice to draw with chalk’, ‘I’m impressed with myself.’
I have to single out a lovely little girl who came with her dad, not only did both of them make contributions to the symposium, they left and later returned with another version of John Blanke – a cloth manikin - what the little girl called her ‘model of John Blanke’, couldn’t help but admire her creative John Blanke turban and trumpet!
A very pleasant end to a very enjoyable workshop!
The works will be on display in the Hythe Town Hall till the end of the month.