Grymm Tooms Travelling Museum
Illumini Event, 9th Sept 2010



Thursday: When Jane Webb contacted us about attending this event we were not sure what we were letting ourselves in for. We have never taken part in an art exhibition before, that was also going to be full of professional performers. One good thing about it was that it is in central London, bad thing is, it may only be a couple of miles away but we had to take afternoon traffic into account so we set off early. There was also the problem of finding a parking space that was close enough for us to get our things to the town hall. As it turned out we got a space virtually outside the place which meant that donkey, yours truly, didn’t end up like a porter in some ’60s safari movie.

Once past the shiny part of the building we found ourselves in a subterranean series of poorly lit rooms in which you could run away screaming from horrid things coming out of the shadows. Theresa showed us where we would be doing our magic lantern show so we set about focusing our machine and then packed it away again since we were not on until 7pm.

After a quick coffee and something to eat we returned, got changed and had a look around at some of the exhibits. I was most impressed by the huge monochrome painting of Jack the Ripper and his victims, each figure was simply done in a sort of Russian doll style with wounds marked in red ‘X’s. Below the painting was a little shrine lit, for safety reasons, with battery operated tea lights. I also liked the white coffin with its various attachments that reminded me of those elaborate West African coffins.

We were about to watch the Moth Dance when Theresa asked if we could do our bit first, a ghost in the machine had put the sound system out of action. So…we quickly sorted out our lantern and set about doing our second public magic lantern show. What we had not taken into account was the number of people who gathered around the bar, nothing like a free glass of wine to get folks together. Unfortunately we had to talk over the thronging mass of imbibing humanity and, all things considered, we did very well.

By the time we finished the sound system had been restored and Vicky Butterfly got to do her Moth Dance to the theme from ‘Twin Peaks’ and what a beautiful performance it was. The chatoyant wings for the costume were further enhanced with LED strips along the edge that came on now end then, as she danced Vicky reminded me of a Victorian fairy painting.

As the evening progressed we realised that we had been the only ‘light entertainers’ so to speak, everyone else danced, mimed or did shadow puppets. We were most impressed by Tiina Tuomisto’s hoop dance, again there were lots of lights and the hoops looked thick and cumbersome to me.

We were told that the queue for the event was going round the block so we popped out to check things out. Yep, that was one long queue of people! Although in the past we had popped into local supermarkets in Confederate uniforms we had never wandered the streets of London in Victorian dress accompanied by a man with a crystal ball balanced on his shaved and dented head.

We returned in time to watch the shadow puppetry, a story about a shooting star that falls to earth and ends up in the sea for adventures that were to be continued…but not tonight. After that we watched a performance by Dalia Hawley which took place in a tent-like construction that reminded me of a sea gooseberry. Unlike sea cucumbers, many of which look like poo, sea gooseberries are beautiful translucent beings. Afterwards I helped dismantle this awkward beastie and as we struggled with the poles we overheard someone say something about being old and 50. Wait ‘til you get there mate and you ache all over with no memory of having any fun to get to that state then complain!!

As the tent thing was finally put away I found that Ruby and I had something in common, an interest in Neolithic structures and ancient goddess figurines. The conversation that followed was a bit surreal to anyone listening in; “I’ve been to the birthplace of Aphrodite”, “I’ve been to the birthplace of Zeus”, “I saw the shrine of Julius Caesar” and so on.

And so we packed up, said goodbye to everyone and headed for home. What an interesting evening it had been.

This is Prof Grymm paying homage at the Dicti Cave.