The House of Fairytales
The House of Fairytales
Einstein believed imagination to be more important than knowledge. Following the old boy’s theory, creative play should be at the heart of every child’s development. The House of Fairytales, a not-for-profit arts organisation set up by Gavin Turk and Deborah Curtis in 2007 takes this fuzzy logic to new heights. Through the use of myth, fable and legend, they seek to create “magical, parallel worlds where learning is play and play is directed learning.”
HOFT are already a legend on the festival scene: last summer their Travelling Art Circus did the rounds of Glastonbury, Latitude, Port Eliot Festival and Camp Bestival, returning home for the Thames Festival. They present a festival-within-a-festival, offering puppet shows, interactive art installations, storytelling and theatre, live performance. It’s a haven for children away from all the adult insanity and, all too often, for drugs-addled adults too.
“We don't rehearse, so it's all improvised,” says Turk. “At one festival we were all set up to tell stories to kids on grandmother's bed, but the art wasn't scheduled to start until 10pm when the children were all winding down. So we ended up telling stories to people who were totally out of their heads on drugs at three in the morning.”
Past delights include a Giant’s kitchen, an Enchanted Forest, a House of Mirrors, Living Books and fruit puppetry. It’s not unusual to see Turk wandering around in character as gypsy Rose Lee or Andy Warhol, and his sons serving tea and cupcakes from out of a caravan. The House of Fairytales seeks to engage the entire family.
“We came up with the idea because I noticed that I have to bribe or trick my kids into going to art galleries,” says Turk. “ I might tell them that we’re going somewhere fun and they don’t know until we get there… we live in an environment where children often aren’t welcomed into galleries.” There’s also a practical reason for doing HOFT: the couple can keep their own creative juices flowing while bring up three children.
This year they will be working with over 350 artists, thus providing an umbrella for emerging artists to bring their work to a wider public. One of their main projects, in collaboration with Victorinox, is a competition to incentivize enterprising families to come up with an innovative social project to help their community. With 10,000 euros as the prize, it’s time to open up the incredible imaginarium!