Skip to main content

An Afternoon in Fairy Land

'An Afternoon in Fairy land' sounded enticing. Discovered quite by chance via the Sussex Centre for Folklore, Fairy Tales and Fantasy The Monash Fairy Tale Salon held an 'afternoon in fairy land' to honour the exhibition, In Fairy Land: an exhibition of Fairy Tale Books from the Monash Rare Books Collection. Brilliant that it was happening on my weekly study day!
Although Phillippa and I have championed storytelling as a way to enhance language skills, develop an understanding of linguistic structures and achieve significant gains in Literacy achievement levels it was an absorbing, and relaxing, experience to be the listener rather than the teller. Louisa John-Krol began the afternoon enchanting us with a traditional tale of riddles and overcoming 'the monster'. David Haworth read his invented fairytale 'The Bone Flute', a collage of fairy tales motifs, plots, characters and a twist (that I won't reveal as I'm sure it will be published somewhere). Sally Newham read 'My Flood Husband' gently, softly filling the room with a narrative of love, longing and loss. I wish I could write like that. Roslyn finished as the afternoon began in true storytelling fashion, a good story, a moral ending and hi jinks on the way.
Dr Rebecca-Anne Do Rozaria's paper 'What Mother Goose Wore' had me mentally ticking off the images of Mother Goose from my childhood reading and wondering about the changes in fairy garb over the centuries. Madeleine Hunter's presentation 'The Problem with Princes' analysed Disney princes in three generations and it triggered some reflection on my part about the Australian 'princes' of the early fairy tales: their build and demeanour that of a stocky bushman with property rather than the swashbuckling hero with inherited (from his father- the King) fairy tale riches.
As my latest (draft) chapter discusses the portrayal of gender stereotypes in Ernst's books and whether or not there are subtle challenges to social norms,  I found Victoria Tedeschi's 'The Damsel in Drag: Feigned Female Warriors and Camp Dwarves illuminating as she presented alternative Snow Whites in 2012 Film adaptations. I thought about Atha Westbury's 'prince' - a blushing stock man, shy in the presence of women. Michelle De Stefani and Zeinab Yazdanfar read from Shahnameh:The Persian Book of Kings, in English and Farsi, a beautiful story, a privilege to hear it.
A bonus was meeting again with Rachel Hammond whose amazing design skills were utilised to create (= fix up) Red Earth Cluster's Auslan books and to see her fantastical Fae Art. 
I decided to present a monologue from Olga Ernst's perspective as a twenty year old with some knowledge of the future of her works. Phillippa suggested that for the audience to note the 'voice' change from that of Ernst to my voice, I should change a small thing such as eye-glasses. Seemed a good idea until I realised that if I had fake 1900s glasses then I wouldn't be able to see my script. I took off a scarf and put it on again to change 'voices'. I tried to summarise my research within the fifteen minutes (which took a number of drafts) and as I wanted to stress the German-essence of her work I began in German. I was coached by Daniella hoping that there were no native speakers in the audience to notice any mistakes. If there was, they didn't comment! 
The best part of the whole presentation was turning up to present with no technology and not stressing about whether the PowerPoint would work. And the fairy cakes.
It is not too late to see this 'enchanting' exhibition.
The exhibition can be seen from 6 March - 7 June 2013 at the Rare Books Exhibition space, Level 1, ISB wing, Sir Louis Matheson Library, Clayton campus, Monash University.


Popular posts from this blog

Australian Christmas Carols

A phone interview with a Junior Red Cross member who was in Ernst's Red Cross Circle led me on another research track. She told me that Ernst's pride in Australia was obvious at Christmas time with the regular singing of Australian Christmas Carols. I was given two clues:  
a) written by a Melbourne man  
b) one carol was about 'Brolgas dancing'. 
I believe the lyrics they sang were those written by ABC staff writer John Wheeler to music by William James.
1. Out on the plains the brolgas are dancing
Lifting their feet like warhorses prancing
Up to the sun the woodlarks go winging
Faint in the dawn light echoes their singing
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas Day.
2. Down where the tree ferns grow by the river
There where the waters sparkle and quiver
Deep in the gullies bell-birds are chiming
Softly and sweetly their lyric notes rhyming
Orana! Orana! Orana to Christmas Day. 3. Friar birds sip the nectar of flowers Currawongs chant in wattle tree bowers
In the blue …

Ooroomolia. An Australian Fairy Story by David Cameron.1878

Here's an Aussie fairy king with a slouch hat and a stock whip wand.

Some children assert that there are no fairies in Australia. Wait until you read this story, and then you shall judge for yourself.  It was summer; there had been no rain for many months; hardly a blade of grass was to be seen; the little left was of the colour of stubble. The once full-flowing creek was a chain of water-holes, very muddy, and harrowed with hoof-prints. The cattle and horses made tracks through the puddles night and morning. These thirsty half-starved animals came long, weary marches over the plains to drink, plodding through the water to the other bank in their weary search for grass or anything to feed upon. The only water for miles around was the turbid and scanty supply in the creek-already fast drying up. Settlers brought their tanks on drays, sometimes a distance of ten or twelve miles, taking a whole day to travel thither and back. By day the sun was blazing, and sank to rest in the evening a fiery-red veiled in a smoky shroud. Even the moon when it shone at ni…