Imaginations running wild

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We did it!  We maked a shop! So, last weekend (Midsummer) was DNweekeND – Doncaster’s free festival.  There was a LOT of fun going on, all across town, in empty shops, town squares, and all over the place.  But for our part, the great Dr de Cleyre and myself – masketeer Abigail Emilia – transformed “Unit 24, Waterdale” into the “Imaginarium of Wonder, Wyrdness, and Curious Tales”, with just a (large) carload of gubbins and a hefty dollop of imagination.  People came, people saw, people loved. We answered questions with questions (Well, what do you think it is?) and made impossibles possible (Hey, I’ve never made a fox mask before, but if that’s what you want, how hard can it be?).  I’m disappointed at the number of people who mistook the preserved lung segments from Winston Churchill’s pet Himalayan bear (died in house fire) for ‘pickled cauliflower’, but I can see the resemblance, so I’m not going to pass blame.  We made this…

Empty shop, looking towards front window.

into this…

People browsing a shop full of curious things like old maps, books, and weird objects

person lying on the floor, drawing on large roll of paper, surrounded by drapey material with flowers and butterflies

Yup, we even had butterfly garden, where you could hang out and enjoy the sunshine (when there was some), draw on the floor, admire the Midsummer Night’s Dream ‘wall‘, and take a peek inside the magical golden cauldron… Not everyone bothered to look, but we knew when somebody had, as their squeals of delight filled the Imaginarium 🙂 Do you want to know what was inside?

large mirror with shelf of assorted fox masks above

All in all we had a great weekend, meeting other artists, people who’d come into town especially for the festival, and some people who’d just been passing by and wondered what on earth we were doing (still thinking of an answer to that one).  Dr de Cleyre regaled all comers with tales of his travels, and those of his incredible Great Aunt de Cleyre van der Dunkel – space-balloonist, collector and inventor.

Shop wall with rows of shelves of curious items. Like a very weird museum.

You could hear about the great bee shortage of the 1950s (most of the bees we have now were imported from Greece at that time),  see some actual coins recovered from the giant’s hoard by Molly Whuppie, and marvel at Per Ekstrom’s sackpipa (Swedish bagpipes), which were only granted royal pardon in 1976.  People were invited to wonder why there were so many pictures of me, or where the other quantum-entangled accordion might be, or what exactly had escaped from our vivarium (sorry about that), or what kinds of souls were trapped in the Soul Jars… You could look, you could touch, you could draw, you could make.

table covered with craft supplies, with Abigail helping a child make a paper plate mask
Making masks
Small child in fox mask, standing in front of large mannequin dressed in black cloak, with fox mask
Wearing masks


You could play tunes on the thumb piano, listen to the music of the spheres on the Grill Gamelan, play chess, hear a story, make a mask, shake a storm.  You could imagine.  You could see what was inside the cauldron.


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The Imaginarium was a wonderful treasure trove of inspiration, wonders, and questions, and I sincerely hope all our visitors enjoyed, and had their own imaginations tickled, by their exploration of the bizarre.  Sadly Dr de Cleyre’s Imaginarium has packed up and moved on, but I am very hopeful we will be able to invite you to join us again, somewhere else, to bring your imagination and your curiosity, and see what you can find in our collection of wonderment.

Do really want to know what was in the golden cauldron? Do you? Do you want to know what it was that made grown adults and children alike squeal with glee at their discovery? Honestly, we put so much effort into the Imaginarium, and yet this was probably the most popular thing…

A tiny crocheted pink pig, in a golden cauldron

If you would like us to bring our Imaginarium to your event, or festival, or whatever you’re planning, do get in touch.  It is, like our imaginations, very flexible, with limitless possibilities!

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