Friday, May 28, 2010


"Nothing is safe from the marauding hands of pageant-producers and actors.  We are all busy sticking gummed labels on the undersides of old pieces of furniture, which have been requisitioned for the day, and our wardrobes have been ransacked -- not only for fur for our own simple Ancient Britons' costumes -- but for hats, cloaks, velvet jackets, feathers, jewels, buckles and belts for the rest of the county.  I quite dread Amy's visits at the moment, as I see her predatory eye ranging round my house, and even over my own person, for any little titbit that might further Bent's [a small town] glory on the day of the pageant."  from Village Diary by 'Miss Read' on the subject of the people of an English county preparing for a pageant (tableaux)

I had forgotten the amount of chaos and insanity that accompanies the picture tableaux which we did this morning.  It is such a great amount of fun, I recommend you get some friends together and do some yourselves.  Some suggestions for you to help you get started:

It helps to have one or two large, color compilations of artwork for everyone to flip through.  We did our searching for paintings on the Internet and printed out our choices, but it is so much easier to flip through a book.  The Sister Wendy Story of Painting  is a great book... someday I need to get a copy for ourselves.  One of my favorite things about doing this is watching all the children study each of the pictures so intently in order to reproduce it. 

Be prepared to move furniture about to get just the right background.  This is another reason to have large pieces of fabric on hand... to hold up in order to cover something in the background which shouldn't be there.

There is a lot of waiting around while one person or group is having their pictures taken.  But, everyone is usually occupied as they are searching among the costumes for just the right piece or prop.  It helps if everyone brings a large stash or costume pieces and fabric.  We did a lot of draping since they were still pictures and often not the whole body.  A large supply of safety pins and bobby pins are indispensable; wigs are always a bonus.

Multiple adults are also helpful.  There was a lot of dressing, pinning, and staging that needed to happen.  Here are two members of the P Family... notice P14's mom holding a picture of the painting to help pose P14 to match.  We used a digital camera to take the photos, but it was mounted on a tripod, making it easier to frame each picture.  Also, to make things easier, the photos are shot in color, but we will print them in black and white, making it much easier to fashion costumes since we don't have to worry about color.

Both times we have done this, I have had a nearly one-year-old baby(ies) to take part.  If you've ever flipped through paintings of this time period, you know how essential this is, since there are a great many Mary, Jesus, and John the Baptist paintings:

And to give you a sense of what exactly we were doing, here are D. and P. posing for their picture Peace and War (1776) by Pompeo Girolamo Batomi:


Angie said...

I have never heard of doing that - it looks fun!

emily b. said...

this is just way to cute.

emily b. said...

that would be "too" cute.

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