Bretton Royalty

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Once upon a time…

There was a township called Bretton, which resided in a city called Peterborough. This kingdom was fairly new, having only being developed in the 1970’s. It was designed to be a green space, for families, with a pram bay in each house, and with spaces to shop and pubs to go to. 

Then in 2017 after nearly 40 years of being, Bretton met Peterborough Presents, an arts organisation who wanted to bring creativity and art to people’s doorsteps. They could only do this properly if they worked directly with the people that lived in Bretton. So, they did. Together they brought some magic to the area.  There were special moments that celebrated how green Bretton is. There were sensory and photography walks and film clubs. There were magical treats where elders danced at afternoon cabarets called Posh Club. There were outdoor performances at festivals with fairies and cricketers. 

In the following film, participants talk about their experiences of Bretton Royalty. It also gives a general feeling of the whole project.

Bretton Royalty was inspired by a #1000Moment memory where someone was crowned ‘Bretton Princess’ at Bretton festival. Being crowned brought the feeling of being special and loved by an area. Our aim was to replicate this feeling but with the people of Bretton.

In 2020, a year of lockdowns, there were lots of people in the Bretton area who were helping one another with kindness, performing acts of community, and being there for each other without wanting to be praised. So, in early 2021 Peterborough Presents, along with Bretton partners, decided to honour these everyday heroes with ‘Bretton Royalty’.

Bretton Royalty invited the people of Bretton to nominate their neighbours, work colleagues, friends and family to receive a bespoke gift that made them feel special – like a king or queen for a day.  We had nominees from nurses to architects, for friends, work colleagues and neighbours. Each potential ‘royal’ was assigned an artist to make them a gift. We did this by matching them via their likes and dislikes. 

We interviewed the nominees and nominators. Each ‘Bretton Royal’ then received a piece of visual art, a poem or a theatre performance that was specially created for them, featuring all their favourite things and hopes.  Some of these gifts were delivered straight to their homes, work places and even churches.  Food, cups of teas and homemade wine was shared, along with laughter, tears and a lot of thankful love. 

This is the last project (for now) that Peterborough Presents will be leading in Bretton. We have had a wonderful journey there, meeting some kind and passionate people. Together, we have created experiences and partnerships that are strong and will be everlasting.  We hope this project says thanks for all of this.  

Please be inspired to let those who make your day that bit special know how much they mean.    

Thanks to the Bretton Artists

Sandra Keating

Ellie Sandall is our illustrator and 2D artist 

My name is Ellie Sandall and I’m an author and illustrator of picture books. I studied graphic design at university in Bath before going on to specialise in children’s book illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Since graduating in 2007, I have created eight picture books, working largely in watercolour, collage and pastel. My books mainly feature animals- my latest book, Balancing Bernie, will be published in November and features lots and lots of dogs! Alongside my writing and illustrating I teach art classes through my company, Art Stars- we offer after school art classes, holiday workshops and Arts Award courses for 4-16 year olds from our studio in Deeping St. James. We teach a range of specialisms including drawing, painting, sculpture, textiles, collage and printmaking, which is really enjoyable! 

Sandra Keating

Janet Bates is our visual and 3D artist 

A PASSION for natural history and a preoccupation with museums and their collections influence much of what I do. Dioramas, once popular in museums to provide a context to specimens, feature prominently in my work, providing miniature worlds in which both the simplicity and the complexity of the natural environment are explored. 

My initial ideas are often developed through my love of walking in the countryside, whether that’s in the wide, open expanse of the Cambridgeshire landscape or along the wild Hebridean coastline. 

Whilst drawing and printmaking are central to my work, I use a variety of techniques and materials to create my finished pieces, fusing Fine Art with the decorativeness of craft. 

Sandra Keating

Sandy Wardrop is our Poet 

I’m a writer and poet from Peterborough, where I’ve been, poet in residence at Hampton’s Plaice chip shop, Good Shout poetry slam champion and runner up for Peterborough Poet Laureate (Nov 2019). I most enjoy making experimental poems and one of these, ‘It’s Safe Here‘ (a poem set inside a maze with multiple endings) went viral in 2019, gaining 16,000+ shares across the UK, USA, Australia and the Philippines. 

Sandra Keating

Lamphouse Theatre Company are our amazing performance wizards.

Lamphouse is a theatre company based in Peterborough. We make shows that are full of music and comedy. We love telling epic stories in unusual and interesting places. For Bretton Royalty we’re going to create mini performances about the nominees. We might make a 5 minute show to celebrate a person and their amazing achievements during the last year, or maybe we’ll create a mini 5 film telling the story of someone’s life using lots of comedy and songs.  

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