This project is in response to the creative storytelling brief inspired by Bedlington-based crafter and decision maker Carole Fife’s lockdown project ‘Tales of the Toys – 100 days of lockdown‘. During lockdown Carole created a series of theatrical window scenes from a cast of home-made characters, for the people of Bedlington to enjoy as they walked past.
This involved creating daily theatrical scenes in her front window with a cast of home-made characters, including peg and spoon people, sock puppets and hand-made teddy bears. The scenes were a combination of fictional and real-life events and every day the stage was set out for the people of Bedlington to enjoy as they walked past. The project attracted a local following and was also regularly included in the Facebook group, Bedlingtonshire Matters.
Of the project, Carole says:
“This project began as a means of coping with isolation and avoiding depression. I knitted four teddies, and when someone suggested I put them in the window I decided that they wouldn’t just sit there, they would do something. So I started 100 days of activities during which the teddies were joined by four socks, six pegs, and four spoons (who were running a pizza delivery service from my kitchen!) The toys developed personalities and learned to work together so that no one was missed out and their lives reflected much that was going on in the real world at the time.”
In May 2020 Carole volunteered to collaborate with an artist to conduct a research and development phase of this project. This led to her working in partnership with professional animator Sheryl Jenkins to create a short animated film “The Pegs and the Pizzas”.
Animator Sheryl Jenkins, describes the collaborative process of making the film:
“Carole and I eventually decided on one of her stories that we thought would be a good one to try in animation. We had a good chat about Carole’s vision for how it should look, and she storyboarded the scenes. She packed up all of the characters and sets that I needed, and I took them away to animate.”
It’s been an interesting process. Carole and I had limited in person contact so had to look at alternative ways to work together. Carole has developed a whole, wonderful world of characters and stories that echo our community, and that has been fun to dip in to. She still has so many other stories that we’d like to adapt for animation.”
Carole and Shery’s lockdown collaboration led to the development of the full project brief and open call for artists. The decision making group shortlisted and conducted a series of virtual interviews before appointing artist and documentary film maker Amanda Loomes, sound artist and musician Alison Carlier and animator Sheryl Jenkins. They will work with people based in South East Northumberland to develop the project ‘Close Knit’, an animated documentary film, aiming to show the richness and diversity of life in South East Northumberland.