Friday, October 29, 2010
Scottish Storytelling Centre
The John Knox House mentioned in a previous blog is located adjacent to the Scottish Storytelling Centre, a wonderful light and airy contemporary space nestled within the ancient buildings of Edinburgh's Royal Mile. The Centre opened in 2006 and provides a space for both storytellers and those who want to develop storytelling skills. I was drawn in by a chair positioned by the large window at the far in of the main space- it was an Orkney chair, a hand made chair from the Orkney Islands, where my father was born.
The main space is a large flexible room with a vaulted ceiling and a long wall that is used for small temporary exhibitions. An ingenious movable wall is filled with small vignettes that display a range of stories for all ages from William Wallace (Braveheart) to the Grufallo. Small doors reveal some of the vignettes whilst in other areas children are invited to explore inside and discover small puppets from stories such as Hairy Mclarey. When pulled out, the wall allows a small intimate storytelling space to nestle behind it, with a large chair for the storyteller to sit in and a box of dress up clothes to play with. When the wall is pushed back in the space opens up for larger events.
The Centre houses a wonderful cafe that is open to the main space and looks out over the Royal Mile (I can recommend the apple pie) adjacent to this is a wonderful bookshop with a range of books focusing on stories for all ages.
At present there is an international storytelling festival being held at the centre which this year has an eastern focus with storytellers from China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and India. The adjacent exhibition are a series of painted scrolls by Gurupada Chitrakar- a master stoyteller from Bengal whose paintings illustrate the song lyrics of Patua storytellers including some more contemporary stories about Scots who have come to Bengal.