We’re all settled in at Chetham’s Library now, about to start the second week of our time with them, and Chetham’s have written a blog post you can read here all about our residency! We’ve been given a brilliant hidden room to work in (not usually open to the public) – it’s called the Scriptorium and it’s tucked away behind a heavy wooden door in the reading room. The first time I visited the Library I had no idea it was even there!
If you want to get a look at a part of the building you usually wouldn’t be able to, it’s open to visitors for the duration of our residency. It’s pretty cosy in there – although rumoured to be the home of a ghost – with very chunky stone walls (some of the walls in Chetham’s are about 3 feet thick!) We’re inviting visitors to come in, sit down at the desk, and write us a story about something in Chetham’s, which has now and in the past been the home of a shifting, growing and shrinking, collection of artefacts, furniture, and miscellanea.
There’s all kinds of things in Chetham’s that are so old the original story about how they got here has been lost – and there’s also a long, excellent historical record of mysterious things winding up in Chetham’s as a donation to the collection and then disappearing again. We’re wondering what you’ve seen, imagined, or hope there might be in Chetham’s.
Pop your stories into these helpfully labelled boxes! We’ll also be in Chetham’s Library in person every Monday and Tuesday to write and devise, chat, and show you our favourite strange things and places in the Library.
Some of the things that used to be in Chetham’s (or are rumoured to have been here once) included a taxidermy crocodile or alligator, the hand of a mummy, a shark’s jaw, and other less macabre artefacts such as Queen Elizabeth’s shoe and a loadstone. As you might guess from the variety and scope of the collection, it existed in a kind of riotous disorganisation – with items hung from the ceiling and balanced on top of the bookcases.
Mysterious items that are in Chetham’s right now will be featured in our twice weekly Twitter call out for stories.
We keep finding (and being shown by the lovely folk at Chetham’s!) more and more strange and great things: from an eerie death mask to a giant bells in the corridor of uncertain origin. Keep an eye out for the #unrealchethams hashtag, because we’ll be asking for your short explanations for what some of these items are, what their significance is, and how they ended up here. The stories we learn, gather, and make up ourselves will worm their way into our performance on Thursday 18th February at the end of the residency, The Unreal Tour – a mixture of actual history and lies, all blurred and blended up.
If you want to come and write some stories with us, we’re running a free workshop at 1:30 on Saturday 30th January at Chetham’s. We will playfully investigate why we believe museums’ and experts’ stories about items and artefacts, and come up with our own alternate, forged accounts.
More info coming soon on how to book a place on the workshop or a slot to see The Unreal Tour!