We thought 600 lanterns in 2006 was impressive. We thought 850 lanterns in 2007 was marvelous. So imagine how staggered and delighted we were when 2008 saw an incredible 1,000 lanterns parading through the streets of Salisbury and on to the Cathedral grounds.
As ever, from participants and spectators alike, the wonder in seeing such a parade was hard to ignore and despite a chilly night the smiles beamed about us with everyone looking around, wide-eyed, at an even greater range of designs and lantern shapes than ever before. Here were angels galore; a polar bear; a galleon in full sail. There was the man-in-the-moon; pulsating orbs; an owl in full flight. Turn around and you’d see a yacht; a christmas tree; magnificent stars. Turn again and there’s a shark; a life sized ice-skater; even a disco diva with pink hair, a feather boa and all!
As the parade entered the Cathedral ground the lanteneers where offered Christmas buns and mince pies kindly donated by Nicholas & Harris and Reeve the Bakers. A very welcome treat for everyone as the parade reached its destination and spread across the frontage of the Great West Doors.
Neil Leacy, chairman of Circular Arts, made a welcoming speech to over 1,000 participants and spectators before a Christmas message was given by Canon Edward Probert, Chancellor of Salisbury Cathedral. And then to end it all, and with the accompaniment of Amesbury Brass Band and Downton Community Choir, the crowd where lead in singing Christmas carols before raising their lanterns and their voices in a magnificent cheer of delight. Wonderful!
But even as the lanterns wended their way home we have to remember that all this is just the culmination of months of preparation as once again Circular Arts had worked with Toozalii Community Arts who provided over 60 workshops held throughout South Wiltshire from October to mid-December.
The workshops themselves involved many community groups including village schools, elderly people, young children, learning disabled adults and young people, pre-school children and young mothers, from towns and isolated villages. At all the workshops the emphasis was on being involved, making a mess and being hands-on with the miles of willow, paper, glue and imagination.
For so many the importance of being part of a Lanterns for Salisbury project is the feeling of involvement, working with other people they may never normally meet or even consider talking to, bringing minority groups to a community feeling that is often missing, being a part of something so big but which for them started so much smaller in their workshop sessions.
2008 saw an increase in total of workshops held but there could have been more. We were only prevented from doing so by our restricted funding. We have received so much positive feedback from all our public involvement projects and even though the Government encourages us to rebuild and strengthen our communities, it is still very difficult to raise funds for community arts projects.
If you wish to help by making a donation, an offer of sponsorship or through other means then please contact us here.
We were very lucky to gain the support of the Salisbury District Council Community Funding, who funded the project in part through a generous grant towards workshops specifically for Young People.
Are thanks also go to The William Doc Couch Trust, HSBC Bank – Salisbury, The Walter Guinness Trust, Salisbury Journal, SOLVE, Create Charity, The Fulmer Charitable Trust, and the many smaller but vital donations from Trusts, local businesses and private individuals.
Also for their donations of time and goods we’d like to thank Nicholas & Harris, Reeves the Baker, the Salisbury Arts Centre, Downton Community Choir, Amesbury Brass Band, Wilton Brass Brand and the many volunteers who helped throughout the project.
But most of all our special thanks must go to Alex Grant of Toozalii. Without his vision, perception and stamina this year’s parade would never have been such a resounding success.