TYDC Low Ham Dance Film
27 November 2016
Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre and The Museum of Somerset announce their new partnership: bringing the earliest piece of narrative art in Somerset to life
The extraordinary Low Ham Mosaic is to be the inspiration for a new dance film featuring Taunton Youth Dance Company.
The mosaic, now displayed in the Museum of Somerset, is the earliest piece of narrative art in Britain, and tells the tragic love story of Aeneas and Dido as written by the Roman poet Virgil. It was found in a remote field at Low Ham, near Langport, in 1945 and was brought to light by a series of accidents.
In 1938, Low Ham farmer Herbert Cook discovered a fragment of tile while burying a sheep found lying in a field. He realised that the fragment was not like other tiles then in use and that it had an intriguing combed pattern on one surface. He took it to the County Museum in Taunton where it was identified as part of a box flue tile from a Roman central heating system.
That could have been the end of the story until, during the war years, the Ministry of Agriculture ordered Herbert to plough the field. He resisted, because of his strong sense that something important might be buried there, and eventually got agreement to plough another field instead.
In 1945 Lionel Walrond, a 17-year-old who lived nearby at Pitney, saw a reference to the tile in an archaeological journal and asked the Cook family if he could undertake a small excavation. Further excavation in 1946–7 revealed the entire mosaic, together with other remains from a large courtyard villa.
Now the mosaic’s remarkable story will brought to life by students from all over Somerset. As part of the project Taunton Youth Dance Company will be visiting the Museum of Somerset to find out more about the mosaic, and the love story it depicts.
Filmed by Katherine Edwardes and choreographed by professional dance artist and TYDC Company Director Jenny Grant, the film will use the medium of dance to interpret the mosaic’s stories and to share them with a wider audience.
The dance film will offer students aged between 15 and 25 the opportunity to create a professional dance film, to use a historical stimulus as the basis for choreography and to film on location, including at Low Ham itself. Filming will begin in January 2017 and the film will premier at the end of March.
“This is such a wonderful opportunity for young dancers," Jenny Grant said. "Dancing for the film offers a brilliant opportunity for young dancers to try something new and to participate in communicating one of Somerset’s most important cultural discoveries.
Steve Minnitt Head of Museums for the South West Heritage Trust said: “I am delighted that this 1,700 year old mosaic is to be the inspiration for the young people taking part in this exciting project. I very much look forward to seeing how the mosaic and the many stories associated with it are interpreted through dance.”
An Evening of Murder with Dr. Lucy Worsley
As part of their partnership bringing history to the stage The Museum of Somerset and Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre will also be presenting Dr. Lucy Worsely and her talk: Murder a Very British Fascination
Dr. Lucy Worsley is a renowned Historian, BBC TV presenter (A Very British Murder, A Very British Romance, The Real Versailles) and Chief Curator at the charity Historic Royal Palaces.
Lucy presents an illustrated tour through the dark story of our fascination with murder. She’ll examine some notorious crimes and criminals, but also explain how murder became a form of middle-class entertainment through novels, plays, paintings, and the press – starting with a horrific early nineteenth-century serial-killer in the East End of London, and ending with the tame drawing-room dramas of Agatha Christie.
A dark, shameful deed, the last resort of the desperate or a vile tool of the greedy – murder, as Lucy uncovers is also a very strange, very British obsession.