Dancing and giant lace as Cecil Sharp House counts Yan Tan Tethera for Museums at Night

By Jenni Davidson | 18 May 2014

The home of the English Folk Dance and Song Society made for a suitably shape-shifting Museums at Night adventure

A photo of a museum at night
Stairway to lace heaven at Cecil Sharp House
We might have been counting sheep at Yan Tan Tethera, but this Museums at Night event certainly wasn’t about sleeping.

Yan, tan and tethera are the numbers one, two and three in the dialect of shepherds in the north of England and the same counting system is used for counting stitches, neatly knitting together the textile theme of the evening.

Like a mass sewing bee, Cecil Sharp House was a veritable farmyard of activity as everyone sat in groups sat around tables knitting chickens, ducks, sheep, horseshoes and flowers to be stitched onto a huge community mandala.

Meanwhile, weaver and performance artist Shane Waltener’s Bobbin Dancers danced patterns with ribbons like a cross between a maypole and a giant hand loom.

Knitting instruction was provided courtesy of London yarn shop and textile collective Prick Your Finger. And as befits an event in the home of the English Folk Song and Dance Society, all that crafty work was accompanied by traditional songs of textile making courtesy of the Cecil Sharp House Choir and Dulwich Folk Choir.

The highlight of the evening was the live creation of a giant lace installation up the stairwell. Visitors played follow-the-leader as the choir led us through the building, to a vantage point where the Bobbin Dancers could be seen weaving their way up from the basement in time to the singing of the Lace Tell song.

  • Museums at Night marked the opening of the Yan Tan Tethera exhibition curated by sound artist David Littler, which explores the role of song in the making of textiles. The exhibition and events continue until September 25 2014.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of a museum at night
A photo of a museum at night
A photo of a museum at night
A photo of a museum at night
Hundreds of events took place for Museums at Night between May 15-17 2014. Visit museumsatnight.org.uk and follow the festival on Twitter@MuseumsAtNight.

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yan tan tethera looks like fun.
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