Dec 2 2011: Four Tableaux from a Scarecrow Festival at Hickling, Leicestershire (c.2009)

After the recent gallery of images from Wymeswold’s garden and scarecrow festival, these occasionally macabre scarecrow tableux from Hickling in Leicestershire seem a useful footnote to those. They’re not dated, so far as i can tell, but probably come from around 2008 or 2009, and make an interesting contrast with the more restrained Wymeswold efforts. At Hickling, the constructions range from fairly simple single figures to these entire worlds culled from Hollywood films, fairy tales, children’s books and randomly elaborate jokes, like the slightly Tarantino-esque wedding ceremony above, and there’s usually a loose theme around which all the efforts converge.  The scarecrow festivals take place in the village in early September each year, and according to one newspaper article in 2009, the tradition was invented to counter the negative effect of the foot and mouth crisis on village life (in what is still primarily a farming area) rather than being something with much in the way of real history. What’s intriguing about this is that while most of our supposedly ancient folk customs were similarly revived (and fabricated) in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the Hickling festival shows that the process of adding to the folk calendar continues unabated into our own time.

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