Monday, 29 September 2014

Andros Island - The Sleeper

Rounding off a smashing month and the publication of our collection of Commonwealth Tales, here's one that ehm...slipped through the net. Next stop on our Commonwealth Odyssey...Uncommon Tales comic with Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes...

Once upon a time, was a very good time.
Monkey chew tobacco and spit white lime.
Cockaroach keep high low time.

This was a boy One day say to his mama, 'I gwine to look for a  living." His ma say, ''Ah right, son, good behind you, bad before you." The boy went on his journey, and he meet a large broken-down t'atch house. So he went in. He met an old man. The old man was man by the name of Father John. The boy ask the old man to let him sleep there that night. The old man say, 'All right, boy."
Father John used to sleep seven years. This boy didn't know this. It was night, so they went to bed and they slept that night. The nex morning the boy wake, the sun was up, the old man was still snoring, so the boy call, 'Father John! Father John!" The boy call till the sun set. The harder he call, the harder Father John snore. So the boy went to sleep again. The nex' night he sleep all night again
without any food. The nex' morning he get up pretty weak, so he call again. That day the harder he call, the harder Father John snore. So he call all day until seven days, and he died. And Father
John find out that the boy was dead. He get up, he went into the kitchen and set on the big pot and boil the boy. And he sit down and eat the boil boy.

Be bo ben.
My story is end.

From the Journals of the American Folklore Society

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

13 Commonwealth Tales - Out in the Wild

the beautiful people

We had great fun launching our 13 Commonwealth Tales book earlier this month at the Dutch Gable House, and nearly 400 copies were distributed during Doors Open Weekend. Excellent stuff.

We'll be sending  copies out to local schools /libraries throughout October, but in the meantime, if you've missed out, you can still get copies from either 7 1/2 John Wood Street in Port Glasgow or the ground floor of The Dutch Gable House in Greenock. When they're gone, they're gone!

Next month will see the final part of our Commonwealth Tales project - featuring Sir Glen Douglas Rhodes, and we'll also be running an evening of scary stories in Dutch Gable and launching our Time and Place exhibition.

For a change, instead of mythical creatures or monster, here's some photos of members of 'The Torch', as our folklore based biker gang would surely be called, and if you wish, you can also enjoy myself and Mhairi blethering to Inverclyde TV about the project. Big thanks to everyone else who helped on the night, especially bysharonwithlove and milkywithtwo.

zuckerbeckers fonz impression

redandcaramel tells us a story

andy, al, artists

the curator speaks

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Steam! Sugar! Superpowers!

A slightly off topic post from me today, not directly Magic Torch related, but (maybe) of interest to fans of local heritage, folklore and stories.

The Superpower Project is the name of a children's book I have written. It's set in and around Inverclyde, using a backdrop of the sorts of folklore and legends of the area that are frequently found on this blog and featuring lots of local spaces and places, such as the Tobacco Warehouse, Glebe and the Sugar Sheds.

The book was shortlisted for the Kelpies Prize 2014, and was also shortlisted for the Montegrappa / Scholastic Prize for New Children's Writing 2014 under it's original title of Tin Jimmy.

I'm delighted to be able to say that the book will be published by Kelpies in Spring 2016. Kelpies are an imprint of Edinburgh based Floris Books and they publish some amazing, award winning Scottish children's fiction. Check out their wonderful new winter publications catalogue.

If you are interested, you can read some of the early draft chapters over on my personal blog.

The Superpower Project
Megan has a secret, a big secret that only her recently exploded Grandmother knows. To uncover the truth behind her secret, she and her best friend Cam must follow an old town map down forgotten roads and disappeared places, through abandoned bomb shelters and railway tunnels, to graveyards and secret passages beneath the river. And all the while, the sinister men from the Waterworx company are watching, with their strangely menacing Public Art sculptures...

Monday, 15 September 2014

Somerled and The Battle of Renfrew

In the summer of 1164 Somerled, king of The Isles, brought an enormous fleet into the Firth of Clyde.   The ensuing battle at the Ness of Renfrew was a major turning point in the history of the Clyde, the Inner Hebrides, and Glasgow.  Somerled was killed, his kingdom was divided and the Clyde coast was gradually absorbed into the kingdom of the Scots. 
Renfrewshire Local  History Forum is celebrating this turning point in the history of the West by inviting historians and archaeologists to explore the culture, churches, and ships of the west coast and the mystery surrounding Somerled’s death.
The conference will be held at Renfrew Town Hall on Saturday 4th October.  For details and booking, see the Forum’s website at For further information phone 01505 347162.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

13 Commonwealth Tales - Out This Weekend

Get yourself along to the Dutch Gable House this Doors Open weekend (September 13/14), to get your FREE copy of 13 Commonwealth Tales, supported by National Lottery Celebrate fund. Here's a wee sneak peek inside at the Solomon Island giants and a page from Captain Kidd's journal...

And in case you missed it before, here's our lovely cover...

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Magic Torch @ Dutch Gable Doors Open Day

As ever, there's a great line up of buildings to visit in Inverclyde on Doors Open Day. We hope you will pop along to Dutch Gable House to see some of what Magic Torch have been up to over our busy year.

As I think I may have mentioned, we will be launching our new storybook, 13 Commonwealth Tales, and thanks to National Lottery Celebrate funding, it will be available for FREE over the weekend. The fully illustrated book retells folktales from commonwealth countries featuring all sorts of strange and wonderful creatures.

There will also be an opportunity to see a preview of our Battle of Largs Exhibition which reinterprets the gothic poetry of Greenock writer John Galt into a series of atmospheric comic art pieces.

However, there's other stuff going on in the Dutch Gable House as well. Downstairs in the Green Room, there's a World War One cafe, with a chance to pick up a copy of the commemorative newspaper from our Working the War project, which shares Inverclyde news stories from throughout the war. We will also be showing a recording of the popular drama performance created by St Columba's pupils and performed at the Albany earlier this year.

And on Sunday only, artist Alastair Cook will be along to do some of his collodion photography. Alastair ran a smashing collodion workshop for us a few weeks back, and has been working with us on the Time and Place project.

There's loads of places to go and see, all worth a visit, but of special interest this year, as a newly opened property, is the Tobacco Warehouses - had a wee wander around them over the last few weeks, really impressive space. And for a touch of class...check out 6Art as well. It's all good.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Battle of Largs Exhibition

The photo really doesn't do this justice...

One of the pieces from Neil and Andy's Battle of Largs project, which interprets Greenock writer John Galt's gothic poem in large scale comic art. The frames and exhibition text have been created in wood and slate by local social enterprise Newark Products.

You can see it in the Dutch Gable House over Doors Open Weekend on September 13th / 14th.

It's hopefully the first in a series of comic art / gothic poem mashups, with the Ossian poems very firmly in our sights for next time.

Here's the accompanying text for the piece above...

With shrieks that shook the midnight air,
Tossing their fell fangs, lean and bare,
The Three Eternal Sisters spoke;
And fiercely through the witched smoke,
Their drugged caldron muttering glar’d,
And with its red lugubrious light
Enhanced the horror of the night,
While populous grew the gloom, and length’ning
Groans were heard.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Andy and Mhairi - Scribblers for Hire

Scooby Doo and the Gang, with my wee Molly, chased by Captain Kidd
by Andy Lee
We've been really lucky these last two years, to work with a couple of smashing artists...and we like to really challenge them with various eldritch horrors and folk nightmares. But did you know, you can also commission them to do pieces of artwork for you, friends or family? I'm just one of the folks who has done just that over the last year, and above you can see a special Scooby Doo illustration Andy did for my daughter, below is an illustration Mhairi did for an Alice in Wonderland story I wrote for my wife for our 10th Wedding Anniversary.

You can see lots of Andy's other work and find out how to contact him at Call of the Deep or find him and his sketchbooks on instagram. Mhairi is at Mhairi M Robertson.

And hey...obviously there are lots of other cool local artists and crafters you could be supporting too, some of whom will no doubt be appearing at the next Violet Skulls Market in Dutch Gable House. Apparently it's Christmas coming up...why not do something a wee bit different this year...something special.

Alice, discussing the finer points of relativity with a watchmaker
by Mhairi Robertson

And keep a wee eye out, as Mhairi and I may well be shortly launching a kickstarter for another book.