Thursday, 7 April 2011

Country Pursuits by Alice Pattullo

A set of limited edition prints by Alice Pattullo exclusively commissioned by The Shop Floor Project

Inspired by traditional country fairs, Alice Pattullo has created a set of prints which celebrate the folk traditions found uniquely in different counties of Britain. From swan-upping in Oxfordshire, sword dancing in Northumbria, wrestling in Cumbria to the pipe smoking competition at the Egremont Crab fair. It’s a glorious way to celebrate and document these eccentric traditions that are rooted in myths, folklore and the seasons.

Alice will be launching a new set of prints each season as part of the Country Pursuits collection.

Limited edition of 25 per print, 30 x 42 cm, £45 each.

Swan Upping

Swan Upping is an annual ceremonial and practical activity in Britain in which mute swans on the River Thames are rounded up, caught, marked, and then released. Traditionally, the Monarch of the United Kingdom owns all unmarked mute swans on the River Thames. This dates from the 12th century, during which swans were a common food source for royalty.

Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, also known as Cumbrian Wrestling, is an ancient and well-practised tradition in Cumbria at the agricultural summer fairs. The origin of the this unique style of wrestling is a matter of debate, with some describing it as having evolved from Norse wrestling brought over by Viking invaders.

As The Shop Floor Project is based in Cumbria and the field behind our old studio was used for an annual country fair, we've seen these dramatic, silent matches first hand. The wrestlers wear beautiful hand-embroidered vests, purple velvet pants and white long johns - and take it very seriously indeed!

Every year since 1267 the townsfolk of Egremont hold an annual celebration after harvest time, known as The Crab Fair. The events held are traditional and do not involve the mechanised swings and roundabouts which became part of so many fairs from the late nineteenth century. The modern-day fair is held on the third Saturday in September and is eagerly awaited by the whole community. Events at the fair include the celebrated World Gurning Championship, the pipe smoking games and the singing of traditional hunting songs.

The rapper sword tradition is traditionally performed in the mining villages of the Northumberland and Durham North East England, especially in Tyneside on May Day. The dance is a fairly rapid one, performed at around 100–160 beats per minute, with different team styles using different rates. It should nonetheless be performed in a smooth and graceful manner, with one figure flowing seamlessly into the next. A number of acrobatic figures can be employed, including forward and backward somersaults over swords.

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