The Verse’s Sarah-Mary Geissler reviews Fabula and their exhibition ‘Many Ways To Tell A Story’ at Hove Museum
Everyone has a story to tell, including you. You tell stories everyday.
You engage a room with how you ventured somewhere new for coffee today. Everyone moves beyond small talk with acquaintances while recounting the moments leading up to when your parents met. We recap the series you’ve binge-watched on your laptop to a friend who’s probably never going to watch it. You sit in the kitchen at parties and tell everyone why your high school was different. Storytelling is integral to how we learn, speak and socialise.
Narrative art collective, Fabula, have created Fabula Presents: Many Ways To Tell A Story . This exhibition at Hove Museum explores the concept of storytelling, utilising visuals instead of words to tell tales. The subjects range from fairytales and folklore to personal anecdotes of youth. Each piece subverts classic notions of how and why we need to communicate stories ourselves.
Fabula (Latin for “fable”) are a multidisciplinary art collective, with 17 artists from various backgrounds and disciplines. For the exhibition each artist took a unique approach to the subject of storytelling. To walk around the gallery was refreshing and engaging, each piece stimulating in its own way. Vanessa Marr brought subversive stitch to dishcloths by exploring female domesticity in fairytales through embroidery. While Dagmara Rudkin’s retelling of folktale Henny Penny through found-object puppetry brought life, wit and charm to inanimate junk. I was also incredibly moved by Madeleine Swift’s film, a touching tale which swept me away to her Grandad’s holiday camp where 26 years’ worth of formative experiences took place.
The crowning glory of the exhibition, though, is The Story Cabinet; a huge paper-craft diorama featuring more classic fairytales than I could count. Crafted from paper and card, the collaborative effort bursts from the pages of a storybook. You can see the princess atop her many mattresses and pea, Cinderella’s carriage trundling away. And an imposing giant dominates the whole piece. It also includes several torches allowing you to peer through windows and into the shadows of this intricate 3-dimensional work.
Some pieces also had accompanying hardback storybooks, found in the museum’s devoted reading nook. This touch really showed the faith that the museum had in the artists, and that any story told could be just as valid as the canon of children’s tales. While exploring the Fabula Presents gallery the variety of visitors was striking: a young family with colouring pencils; a grandparent decoding subtle references; a group women casually discussing their own memories of tales told long ago. The many stories truly struck a chord with all visitors, as it can be taken for granted just how embedded tales are in your memories.
You may be forgiven for overlooking Hove’s local museum; I certainly had. As a Moulsecoomb resident I require a damn good reason for such a hefty journey, luckily this hidden gem was worth the trek. Not only is the exhibition fascinatingly whimsical, but the cosy building also houses a wealth of crafts, toys, art and local history, with thoughtful information provided and plenty of engagement for all ages. The exhibition will be on display until 9th May 2017, so plenty of time to plan a visit … and live happily ever after.