It's been great working on the Isle of Wight as part of a National Heritage Lottery Fund commission from the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.
With Estelle Baker from the IOW Heritage Service, Colin Phillimore (Creative) and Elspeth Giddens from IOWLF we worked in four local schools over four weeks:
- Barton Junior School
- St. Francis Junior School
- St. Helens Junior School
- St. Mary’s Junior School
We wanted to facilitate sharing this project with as many schools and public learning facilities as possible and develop an Education Pack. This ensures an ongoing legacy of The Ark and Dove project with the progress of the project and final outcomes informing maritime heritage and linking to next year's #Mayflower400 commemoration.
The gripping story of The Ark and Dove incorporates so many different themes and it just wasn't possible to do justice to all these with students over four weeks. Some of the class teachers did cover issues that looked at the illnesses brought by the travellers/colonist and how this dessimated the Native American peoples; the exploitation of tobacco and other natural rersources 'in the name of the King'.
We tried to focus the students on the fact that at first the travellers were welcomed and hosted by the Piscataway peoples and the Tayak (or Chief) told them:
"This is just what I want, we will share one table".
The Ark and Dove is a great opportunity to share with audiences the heritage of Cowes and the Isle of Wight in the nation's maritime history.
Over four weeks students had the opportunity to hear the story of The Ark and Dove from 1633, as recorded by Father White, a catholic priest exiled because of religious prejudice. They explored objects and artefacts and recorded 'What they thought?' 'What they knew?' and 'What they wondered?' about them.
They started work on a short script telling the story of leaving Cowes to arriving in Chesapeake Bay and sailing up the Potomac River to meet and live alongside the Piscataway nation.
Over 200 people (students, family and teachers) saw the students presentations and this was just part of the legacy.........I'll be bringing The Ark and Dove show to venues on the Isle of Wight and south coast in February 2020.......but that's for another Blog.
Thanks to everyone including the school staff who made us so welcome and to Illustrator Hazel Evans who developed an amazing image for the project emcompassing many of the images that represent the gripping tale of The Ark and Dove:
The Feather/Quill - a central image as Father White would have written with a Quill, birds on both sides of the Atlantic would have been very present (especially the Herons of the Potomac River). Also of course the First Nation tribes like the Piscataway would have used feathers not only for decoration but as currency for trading.
The Geography of the Chesapeake Bay - incorporated in the Quill, including the its many tributaries.
The central character Mary Jennings (listed as a Servant on board The Ark is seen looking West on board.
The Red Chevrons - representing the First Nation tribes.
The scroll bearing Father White's words in Latin: 'Declaration itineris in Marilandiam' which means 'Declaration trip to Maryland'. The Ark and Dove were commissioned by Lord Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron of Baltimore to establish a new community on the Potomac River in Chesapeake Bay that became Maryland.