15 May – 25 September 2014
Cecil Sharp House – the north London home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) – Camden, London NW1
Yan Tan Tethera – which is a traditional sheep counting system used predominantly in the north of England as well as a way to count stitches in knitting – explores, shares and brings to life some of the songs and dances that have eminated from, and been inspired by, England’s textiles industry. Spanning five months, the wider Yan Tan Tethera project, a season of performances, events, workshops and exhibition, takes over Cecil Sharp House and spills into the local Camden area.
Collection of Knitted Textile Folk Objects, 2014
from left to right – Cecil, Mither, Old Nanny Witch, Walkin-stick
lying down – Pocky
Machine knitted wool, knitting needles, reclaimed and constructed wooden walking sticks, stones, ribbon, embroidered badges, kilt pin, rubber ferrule
The finished works are heavily influenced by the old children’s rhyme, “Tell-tale tit”. It is the ultimate playground insult, you have a disabled father who cannot walk, even with a walking stick, and a mother who cannot knit!
“Tell-tale tit, yer mither cannae knit,
Yer father cannae walk wi a walkin-stick.”
Cabinet of Textile Folk Curiosities, 2014
The Cabinet of Textile Folk Curiosities contain an eclectic and idiosyncratic collection of objects and research relating to songs and dances found in the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library here at Cecil Sharp House, the Full English Digital Archives and beyond. The main focus of my research has been around the theme of knitting but has also gone on to encompass the broader subject of textiles, fibre and textile production. My research has also strayed into other areas of personal interest; my home village of Rottingdean in East Sussex, (also home to the famous Copper Family), the much maligned county of Essex where I now live, places that I have visited and to where I have an emotional bond, witches and witchcraft and the sensational murders immortalized in the popular Broadside Ballads. My research, love of wooden soled footwear and desire to spend more time immersed in the activities of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) at Cecil Sharp House has also seen me start clog dancing classes with Camden Clog.
The Yan Tan Tethera artists are Shane Waltener, Prick Your Finger (Rachael Matthews), Stewart Easton, Celia Ward, the McGrath Makers’ Group, and artists from the collective sampler-cultureclash – Jason Singh, Hector MacInnes, Anne Martin and Aimee Leonard.
Yan Tan Tethera is curated by David Littler, promoted by the English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) and supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
Photography: Faye McNulty