As a Consultant Storyteller, creating interactive performance stories for children, I not only write the stories but I also create the props that bring them to life.
I love every aspect of the creative process so when I needed to create a Neolithic cave painting in the form of a map, for a specially commissioned story I have written for Butser Ancient Farm, I couldn’t wait to channel my inner Neolithic.
First stop was the Llandygai House at Butser Ancient Farm at the heart of their Stone Age area. On the wall of the house is a replica of a hunting scene from Turkey, similar to that found at Chatalhuyuk. This painting is also the inspiration for my story and map. The scene shows the hunting of an Aurochs and has a multitude of warriors and hunters surrounding this huge Neolithic beast. Bows drawn, spears raised, and adorned with hunting apparel, these brave tribes people had a mighty task ahead of them.
I wanted to keep my painting as authentic as possible despite being drawn by a twenty-first century homo sapien and so I created images reminiscent of those found in the painting in the Llandygai house. I researched cave paintings and created silhouette images of the animals in the story: Lynx, Stag Beetle, Wolf, Elk, Bear, Boar and Beaver. These were all animals that were found in the Neolithic although now some are endangered or even extinct in Britain.
I then outlined the animal silhouettes on a large canvas, drawing their habitats around them, again in the Neolithic style.
After a light grey wash of paint to give the appearance of a stone wall I started to fill in the detail. I did this using similar colours to those used in the Neolithic period. During this period they may have used iron oxide to get the red colour, iron to get yellow and manganese for black. I used the modern convenience of paint blocks, specifically Derwent Inktense Ink blocks as they gave me exactly the effect I needed. You can draw with them like pastels and then use water to create an intense paint colour on the canvas.
Here’s the finished map:
For the performance, clues will be attached to the map to tell the story as the audience takes a journey back in time to discover what the Aurochs is and where it lives.
You can join us in ‘The Hunt For The Aurochs’, at Butser this May/June, designed for 7-12 year olds. For more information on these brand new, original, interactive mini mystery stories, you can visit my events page here. I look forward to seeing you there for a neolithic adventure!