Singing the blues – February Half-Term

Willow Pattern detailWillow Pattern birds

This February Half-Term the families’ team have set the theme for our activities as the Willow Pattern and blue and white ceramics to tie in with the new Blue and White: British Printed Ceramics display on Level 6 in the Ceramics Gallery.  We just love the blue and white patterns in these pieces and have became fascinated by the Willow Pattern story, as an invented pattern, inspired by stories and symbolism from the Far East. We’ll be running activities from Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 February and would love to see you there.

The Willow Pattern story

There was once a Mandarin who had a beautiful daughter, Koong-se. They lived in a palace with a beautiful garden.

Koong-se fell in love with the Mandarin’s secretary, Chang.

The Mandarin was very angry and banished Chang from the palace. He built a fence round the garden to separate them.
The Mandarin announced that Koong-se was to be married to a nobel warrior called Ta-jin. She was very upset when she heard that Ta-jin was arriving. She did not love him, she loved Chang.

Chang had heard of the engagement and stole into the palace in disguise, dressed as a servant. He found Koong-se and they agreed to run away together. The couple ran out of the palace and were crossing the bridge when the Mandarin and ordered his guards to chase after them.

The couple escaped to live on a distant island but the Mandarin’s spies followed them. The Mandarin ordered for the couple to be killed. The gods felt sorry for the couple and turned them into two doves to fly in the sky together forever.

Dragon 2

For The Imagination Station activity we’ll be challenging families to create their own dragon’s scale pattern to add to a fearsome blue beast designed by artist Bess Shipside. Families will also be able to learn about the story of the Willow Pattern, create their own version and add it to a template of a plate or a jug by illustrator and design Jane Porter. The activity will run every day from 10.30 – 17.00.

Design your own pattern sheet

For our Pop-up Performance we’ve worked with Tea Dance for Little People who have created a magical telling of the Willow Pattern story, where the Mandarin sits under a willow tree, wishing that his daughter would come back to the palace garden. In this interactive performance with live musicians, singing, and a beautiful blue and white set, families have the chance to solve clues to help the Mandarin. Maybe you can come and help us solve the mystery and watch the pattern come to life? Performances will run every day at 11.00, 13.00 and 15.00 in the Lecture Theatre.

Willow branch

For Digital Kids over the holidays we’re asking families to join us and help us create an interactive blue and white art landscape using digital tools. The activity will run every day from 10.30 – 17.00.

There are also a few places left on the Make it: Printing workshop led by artist Natalie Ryde, who’ll be teaching about different printing techniques to help families create their own printed pop up version of the Willow Pattern. The workshops run from Monday 16 – Friday 20 February from 10.30-12.30 and 14.30-16.30. To book please go to the Make it: Printing page on the website.

The Families’ Team.