The Exeter Library Storytale Tour

‘The Exeter Library Storytale Tour’


“We LOVED the library sessions, the combination of drawing, music, story telling and outdoor adventures was perfect for Heather (especially getting muddy outside) and I really loved the setting and meeting some of the other parents. The big sheets of paper were a new idea for us and by the end I think Heather had really got the hang of it and came running over to grab some charcoal each week. It was lovely being able to drop in and out, I really like that your activities are so relaxed, theres no pressure if the little ones wander off to look at something else and then come back when they feel like it.” Amy and Heather (aged 20 months), participants at our Library sessions, Winter 2014

Most recently, through our role in the city-wide conflict-themed ‘Unexpected’ and ‘Exetreme Imagination’ Festivals of 2014‘, Carousel artists were presented with the opportunity to develop the storytelling aspect of Carousel’s practice further, creating a focus from which open-ended activities grew during our subsequent ‘Exeter Library Storytale Tour’.

Through visual art, movement, music and making, Carousel artists Lizzie Swinford and Tamsin Pender led a series of ten sessions at the newly renovated Exeter Library, based around children’s literature,  encouraging children and their parents to enter into the world of the story in an imaginative and creative way.  Lizzie and Tamsin animated popular children’s stories by working in 2 and 3 dimensions – using everyday materials, paper, boxes, fabric, found objects and toys and props and items of costume created during sessions, they transformed the spaces of the library into the scenes inspired by the journeys in the books…

“Thank you very much for the library sessions which we have been attending for the last two terms. When me and my son, Zachary, first started going along he was shy and nervous and didn’t want to get involved. However, over the weeks he has grown to love the group and recently he’s often been the first to join in, doing actions, building towers and running around. He’d also sit quietly and listen to the story. It’s great to see how much he’s developed in confidence since attending the group. We really appreciate all your hard work and imagination – we will certainly miss the group this coming term.” Helen and Zachary (aged 2), participants at our Library Sessions, Winter 2014

Carousel artists offer an aesthetic experience to children that is tailored to the way children know and interact with the world – through the senses. Carousel sessions offer a sensory experience of the essential elements of colour, movement, texture and sound through the lens of the storybook. Our artists are responsive to children’s ideas and incorporate them into the sessions, allowing the work to develop according to what is engaging the families and the ideas they bring. Sessions give children and families the opportunity to be creative themselves and to take a lead in creative activities.

“As a mother and Library worker I am so impressed with the amount of preparation that has gone into the activity. The presentation and staff were amazing. Whilst I have been given some inspiration for our own toddler activities, we have neither the staff nor the resources to carry out activities on the same scale. It would be fantastic to run these types of activities more regularly to encourage parents and children into the library. The learning aspect was so well thought out and the children loved it!” – Jo Portway, Chard Library Worker

This is the first time that Carousel has worked in the newly refurbished Exeter Library, and we are proud to be named as a ‘Cultural Associate’ of Devon Libraries, alongside Double Elephant Print Workshop, Wren Music and CEDA.  Together we are working with Devon Libraries to develop a new programme of cultural activity within and around the library.

The refurbished children’s library is bright and inviting. It emboldens children to discover new books by enticing them into interestingly shaped spaces and soft comfortable areas to relax.  Library staff were warm and welcoming to us and the families we were working with.  They were always accommodating – allowing us to fly kites in the library, rearrange the furniture and make trails between the stacks.  It’s a lovely environment to work in.” Lizzie Swinford, Carousel Movement Artist

“Before the refurbishment the children’s library was separate from the rest of the library. The exciting new open plan design places the children’s area at the heart of the library, placing young children and families at the centre of library life and encouraging flow between the spaces.. Communities are built in this way and our Carousel Project sessions thrive on the ease with which families can access all the new library services”. Tamsin Pender, Carousel Visual Artist