Science Marries Folklore!
A Village Wedding for Marie-Curie Sklodowska and Nikolaus Copernicus
For their annual harvest festival the residents of the small (and imaginary) Polish-Latvian village Naukene, decide to celebrate the successes of science. To do so they build statues of the two most well-known scientists of Polish origin and arrange a fake, typical village wedding for them. Who cares that they were born in completely different centuries. The scientists are:
Nikolaus Copernicus / Mikolaj Kopernik / Niklas Koppernigk (1473, Torun -1543, Frombork)
Based on his own observations and measurements, and on the observations of the ancient Greek, astronomer Nikolaus Copernicus developed the idea of a heliocentric world view – the idea that the earth turns round the sun, rather than the other way round. He started a revolution in astronomy which came to be developed further by Galileo Galilei, James Bradley, Friedrich Wilhelm Besse, Johannes Kepler, and Isaac Newton. Nikolaus was also politically active, worked as an administrator, and as a Medical Doctor. He lived in West Prussia, studies in Poland and Italy, spoke Polish, German, Latin, and Italian. Therefore, today, many nations claim him today for his achievements. He was a true European- so let’s all celebrate him!
Marie Sklodowska Curie (1867, Warsaw -1934, Sancellemoz)
Shortly after the discovery of the X-ray, Physicist and Chemist Marie Sklodowska Curie began researching the principle of radiation and studied uranium minerals. After extensive periods of experimentation which significantly impacted on her health, she observed that some minerals had a particular type of rays and that these rays varied depending on the mineral she had observed: with this finding she coined the idea of radioactivity. Two new elements were found and baptised by her: Radium and Polonium. Marie was an exceptional scientist, who won two Nobel Prizes in two different disciplines. She was also a courageous, passionate woman, who pursued education and research despite the many barriers a woman had to overcome at the time. Marie Sklodowska Curie is a great example of how to manage family, partnership and research as a scientist. And she, too, was a great European: She left Poland to study in France, where women were allowed to enter university. She spoke Polish, French, and Russian, travelled to the States, and collaborated with scientists from universities across Europe.
Science Marries Folklore: The Wedding Arrangement
- Some villagers, mostly women, wear “radioactive” folklore skirts (yellow with black aprons that show the symbol of radioactivity when they spin) and pagan flower-molecule wreaths.
- Other villagers, mainly men, follow Copernicus’ lead and copy his iconic hairstyle and fashion choice: dark hair on shoulder length and an elegant tunic.
- And then there are Marie and Nikolaus, as bride and groom. Since we are in the North Polish-Latvian countryside and you can’t pass through a village without spotting at least one stork, the two scientists are half human, half stork. They sit in their newly built, flower-adorned love nest, in which they hatch Nobel prize winning nest is coronated by a solar system in rural hay aesthetics. Marie and Nikolaus, as human-storks breed a new generation of smart little storks. These are migratory birds, who travel the world wisely and courageously to pick up ideas and share them widely – without forgetting their homes.
- These are the children: storks in shirts with red woollen legs and waterproof shower cap beak heads!
- Music and dance are joyful: A folk-disco-fusion with pieces from Brathanki (Siebie dam po slubie), Boys (Jestes Szalona), Afropolska, Zakopower (Kiebys ty), Zywiolak, Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa, Trebunie Tutki
Join in and celebrate this unique wedding with the people from Naukene and with us Europians
BRAINSTORMING, VISIONS, ELECTION
We started before Easter with a Manchester Day Parade Meeting in Europia’s facilities in Ada House, where we made a big brainstorm around Central and Eastern Europe, Science, Heureka, Poland, Latvia. Candida Boyes from Walk the Plank and Kush Chottera from Europia were part of the meeting and so were around ten Polish, Latvian, and Russian community participants. From these ideas anthropologist, Europian and Lead Artist for the Manchester Day Parade Project, Hannah C. Wadle, developed three different artistic vision and drew them on big posters.
PLANNING, PICKING, WORKSHOPS
A meeting was arranged with Candida followed by another meeting with Candida and Ruta Staseviciute. Ruta is a puppet artist who is based in Liverpool, works for the Lantern Company and agreed to collaborate on the project. With Ruta, Candida assigned me an excellent partner to bring our idea of “Science marries Folklore” to life and help it materialise. On the induction meeting at the Old Granada Studios, the space we would be using as a workshop for building the floats, Hannah picked the frame for our centrepiece.
Next, we set up four community workshops on Saturdays in May and June for costume making and dancing, so that everyone could get involved.
TEACHING, LEARNING, COLLABORATING
And in the meantime, Ruta gracefully taught Hannah how to make puppets. A tedious construction work of joining bamboo, living and dry willow with cable ties, duct tape and patience. But what joy, when they finally come to live.
Hard to count how many times Hannah popped into the shops to buy random selections of items: such as 8 shower caps, 3 lawn nets, 5 cans of spray paint. Or how many nights she spent in the Old Granada Studios working on the centrepiece, once, in a frenzy of finishing the costume sewing, until 4 o’clock in the morning.
A GREAT COMMUNITY!
And then there were all the incredible people that helped giving birth to this community art project: Yollande and Vanitha from Europia, who drove materials across town and let their families wait for the matter of our project; Marta and Jadzia, who came to make flowers, molecule structures and wreaths; Christa, who not only participated in the workshops, but agreed to saw 10 tunics for the male costumes back in Germany and send them over; Dorota, Sabina, Karolina, who adorned the centrepiece with home-made fabric flowers, made their own costumes and recruited half of the Parade group; Sandra, who came to the dance workshop after a long English class; Jasmin, who crafted stork legs; and Olga, who also crafted stork legs and did a massive work of translating all the information into Polish; Michael, Marion, Piotr, and Caski, who contributed flowers to the lot; Radek and Mustafa, who advised on the music selection; Rick, who put together the music set for the day; Trixi, who came up with cool moves for the choreography. Mari, Claire, Danielle, and Candida who were truly supportive in all matters. Lynn, Tsubi, Sophie, Ben, Amie, Rory, Carl, Ruth and Imogene who became my great neighbours at the Old Granada Studios. Kush, Ben, and Ellada who were always present on phone and email for emotional and practical support and who managed what needed to be managed. And Ruta, but we’ve heard about her – can’t mention enough what a great collaborator and teacher she has been.
So this is the story of Europia’s first Manchester Day Parade. Science marries Folklore! We hope you are as keen to see us again next year as we are to see you again with a new creative vision! OOOOOOOOOH! BING! HEUREKA!!!