“The stuff of the Nightmares” Exhibition – London, The Museum of Childhood, 2nd July 2011-26th February 2012
In the past one of the most important social figures were the storytellers – people with great speaking-ability who wandered through different cities enchanting men, women, and children by their incredible stories.
The fairy tales had two main characters, hero and anti-hero – usually the first one was the bringer of positive human characteristics, such as bravery, honesty, and justice, and the second one was the owner of human flaws, as greed, thirsty of power, and selfishness.
The Museum of Childhood, located in the East side of London, arranged a small exhibition, “The stuff of Nightmares”, which focused on the negative nightmarish characters of the fairy tales – the idea stemmed from “Fundevogel”, a story written by Grimm’s Brothers, and published in 1812.
The installation has been realized by the scholars of local institute – 60 4-year-old pupils fromCayleyPrimary School, and 26 9-year-old pupils fromMorphetSecondary School– with the help of artists, such as Katherine Tulloh, Ruth Weinberg, Daniel Bell, and Sharon Brindle.
The work reproduces the forest where the Brothers Grimm set the tale – a recorded voice takes you to the core of this story.
In the wood the visitors can behold representations of the main scenes of the fairy tales, for example a small male doll hung from a tree branch – it represents the moment when the forester finds the little newborn Fundevogel – or a wooden bedroom where the children slept before escaping from the old wicked cook, who wanted to boil the boy.
On the top of the trees we can observe black menacing crows looking at us – a clear reference to the description of the negative character, which authors’ tale portrayed as “an old cook who bore a resemblance to a crow”.
Broken toys, dark atmosphere, and representation of wild animal, such as wolf, and foxes – symbols of pure wickedness and selfish shrewdness – add to the exhibition a complete frame of the most common and terrifying children’s fears.
The Brothers Grimm started writing fairy tales to keep alive some old stories which storytellers handed down from the past by oral communication, but the opinions about the fables are pretty different.
The first way of thinking claimed that he children should be protected by the fables, because the retribution of the negative characters usually is vicious and not educative.
The second upheld the idea that the fairy tales are useful to increase the children’s ability to create an imaginative world which allows them to go out from the daily tedium, and to understand the wrong human behaviour possibly to avoid.
This exhibition investigates on the inner children’s fears, and on what they are scared, but it allowed them to be real artists, and develop their artistic ability.