Roots and Seeds

Roots & Seeds from Secret City on Vimeo.
Film created in collaboration with Martin MacNally of Reel Access and Marc Reck of Reckorder. Photography by Stefi Popescu

Roots and Seeds: a project with newly-arrived, refugee and local children exploring the experience of uprooting and putting down roots through stories and creative work about trees. The project grew out of seeds planted at Celebrating Sanctuary.

Field trip to the Lickey Hills

Forest sprites in the Lickey Hills – photo by Stefi Popescu

We had a wonderfully creative (and muddy) field trip to the Lickey Hills, filming the children in the masks they had made with Pyn, on a drawing tour of the sculptures, and making all sorts of creative response to the forest environment.

Writing with forest materials

Secret City Arts is working with children at Tame Valley primary school on Roots and Seeds, a project with children and young people exploring the experience of seeking asylum, using stories and creative artwork about trees.

Out of school and into the forest

We are off to a great start after our field trip with really rich and creative work being produced. The children have already begun to make the story structure very much their own and have made faces in the outdoor environment as mask designs, begun to make masks, play characters, sketch, write poetic pieces on leaves and fruit, share their different languages which we are building into the performance and ask their own (quite simple) evaluation questions when we finish up each week.

Writing about ‘Trees I know’ in response to a poem

We have been encouraging the children to tell parts of the story and write in their own home languages as well as in English.
One child re-told and enacted some of the story in Latvian. He said, “I was surprised when everyone understood the story (in Latvian) through the actions”.  Other children who did not speak Latvian understood and then re-enacted the story. Incredible co-operation!

Writing on paper tree roots, a child whose family came as asylum seekers from Somalia via Sweden, wrote in the voice of a tree:
‘I wish my roots are searching for water to grow me and I need more friends to stand around me. I need roots to help me stand up strong.’

Writing about their own sense of roots, other newly-arrived children wrote: ‘I belong here because they show me around and play with me’ and ‘I belong here because I live in my house in Barn Lane.’

Working together to make masks

The project is funded by Birmingham City Council’s Next Generation fund. Dr Deirdre Martin of Birmingham University School of Education is researching the project, observing, interviewing and recording the children.

Leaf writing

Tree seeds gathered locally

Roots and Seeds at Celebrating Sanctuary

Trees roots us to a place, giving us shelter, refuge, shade and fruit. At Celebrating Sanctuary at Mac on Saturday 16th June, we invited people to write their stories and memories of trees… which we swapped for a baby tree or seeds planted in recycled pots, to put down roots here in Birmingham’s soil. People shared some wonderful stories and memories, of trees remembered locally or from far away. Click here to read an African memory The Mother of Mothers and Tree Companion

More to follow… watch this space

Planting seeds in a recycled pot

A baby tree in exchange for a tree story or memory

Nellie wrote: “…when I was out picking flowers… I came across a tree with reddish leaves… liked the reddish leaves… when I broke a small branch it came away with what I would call string… In Africa we have similar trees and when we go out in search of firewood which is normally carried on our heads… we use string from the tree to tie up the bundles of wood to make easy for carrying… so the stringy tree brought back memories of home”

Tying up a bundle of twigs using nature’s string

Tree stories and memories written on paper leaves

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  1. Pingback: Soundtrack & Video for Secret City’s latest project Roots and Seeds | Reckorder

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