Yarns of the Heart

A beautiful exhibition of hand made dolls which tell the traditional dreamtime and contemporary stories of the women who made them, was at the Museum of Western Australia earlier this year. The Community Arts Network of WA (CAN WA) revived the original doll making project, preserving the art of storytelling and doll making for generations to come.

For further information follow the story threads that make up the yarns of the heart –




A Walk at Penwortham Woods, Preston

Bottle cap Tree

Last year I researched the local fairy & folklore of Preston, coming across the story of the ‘Fairy Funeral’ based by St Marys church and Penwortham woods. This was included in the lecture I gave at the Harris Museum and Art Gallery for the ‘Enchanted Worlds’ fairy tale exhibition, and performed as a shadow theatre piece (see previous blogs July-Aug 09)

Twisted tree

One bright Spring Sunday, I went to explore the area and follow the trail along the River Ribble and walk in whats left of the Penwortham Woods. The area of woods would of once covered a much larger area, and there were stories of little men with red caps climbing trees and sighted as recently as June 1964.

St Marys church yard

St Marys ancient church

Penwortham Angel

st Marys Angel

Bowkers 1883 account of a funeral in Penwortham records that two men were walking home very late on a moonlit night from the Black Horse Pub by Penwortham woods. They heard the bells of St Marys church tolling for a funeral. It rang 26 times, the same age as Robin, one of the pair. They saw a group of small figures, dressed in black but wearing redcaps, carrying a little coffin. It contained a dead fairy that looked just like Robin! He cried out in alarm, but the procession vanished. Robin became depressed and a month later he fell off a haystack and died.

Warning –  never look at a fairy funeral!

Film – Yardworks 1

Mr Gillibrand’s Fireplace shop, Bluebell Place, Preston.

First shown at installation June 22nd 2009.

Footage from Queen Street Mill Burnley, and Helmshore Textile Museum.

Traditional Lancashire cotton famine song sung by  Rachel Riggs.Accordian by Sian Da Lier.


The Paper Cinema & Kora

In April this year I saw this fantastic company at the Boo, Horse & Bamboos Theatre space, Rossendale.  I love the illustration and movement framed on film with the live music. Found this clip of the performance of  the ‘King Pest’ story by Edgar Allen Poe, have a look at the link for a treat.


The Lancashire Factory Girl

Cotton Mill Song

Originally uploaded by rachel riggs

Yesterday i recorded the song I found right at the beginning of my research, with Sian de Lier. She’s a great musician and performer based in Lancaster, who’s often worked with DNA puppetry and visual theatre as well as Horse & Bamboo. Its called ‘The Lancashire Factory Girl’ (an ”ower true” picture) from during the time of the Cotton famine, Preston, Nov 25th 1862. Its the only female song Ive found about life in the cotton mills specifically from Preston and is very emotive about a girl called Winnie who has nothing left to live on nor family.