Arbroath has held more pageants than any other place in Britain, and I was invited by Hospitalfield and the festival committee to be lead artist on a pageant /procession through the town on April 6th 2020, which was the 700 year anniversary of the treaty of Arbroath.
Months of work and preperation with community groups and schools had to be abandoned when Covid Lockdowns were initiated. The decision was made to restage the pageant for 2021 in a way which was safe for people to enjoy and one of the main ideas was that the pageant became static whilst people moved among the artefacts, meaning people could gallivant around the town seeing things under their own steam at their own pace.
The Clattering Cavalry was born out of an anecdote about “if you had a horse you were in the pageant”. I took a motif of a Pictish horse which proliferates around Angus, and used this is a container for a lot of pattern and colour work which had been made the year before with groups. The cavalry was populated with key figures from the cultural history of the town, intermingled with recent locals who had taken action during the pandemic to support their community. Thus, a multi facetted grouping of riders appeared on the streets of the town. Frederick Douglas, the famous abolitionist had spoken in Arbroath in 1846, appears now with Victorian era working class women poet Elizabeth Campbell, cartoonists, people who ran marathons to fundraise for suicide prevention, people who sang and provided entertainment from their living rooms.
A neighbourhood walk celebrated the Bellrock Lighthouse and more specifically, the haptic reminder of the danger of the sea in cast iron serpent door handles found at the Signal Tower museum. Local artists devised sculpture and craft activities with a march of jellyfish and bubble serpents embellishing the Fit o the Toon and playing host to existing pageant prop objects.
The programme included a medieval dog fashion show and an historical puppet show which celebrates the history of Agnes of Dunbar, (film of puppet show to be screened locally in August).