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Nova Scotia Basketry Guild's Participation in Nocturne 2011

October 15, 2011 - Saturday
Nocturne: Art at Night in Halifax
"Berry-Box Lantern" Public Workshop

Berry Box Lantern

Our suggestion for having a public workshop teaching people how to make the unique Halifax craft of Berry-Box Lanterns was a hit with both the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design and the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market – AS long as we do not put real candles in them; fire regulations…   :-)

The berry boxes are made in Nova Scotia, a symbol of farmers’ markets, of eating local and they are another way of re-using and enjoying.  Also, the three projections on the front of the new Halifax Seaport Market Building are called “lanterns” and we shall have a table in the centre one.

Nine volunteers shall be working in 3’s, in each of the three 2-hour shifts, showing 25 people in each shift how to put together 6 boxes with metal twist ties to make a lantern; total 75 lanterns using 450 boxes!  For lighting, we will have small battery-operated tea lights or they can put a lighted candle in at home.

PLEASE VOLUNTEER – this event is a fund raiser for our Guild.  Special consideration for a basket workshop in 2013, our 25th Anniversary year… 


Nocturne a Great Success !!

Nocturne Lantern
Photo credit to Nova Scotia Centre for Craft Design

Nocturne - October 15, 2011

The sky was starry, the moon was full and the wind was whipping the air – it was Nocturne Night in Halifax.  This was the 4th year that Halifax-Dartmouth has participated in this international event of Art at Night and local organizers were expecting some 20,000 people to attend the many free events.
Our Guild contracted to teach a free public workshop making Berry Box Lanterns at the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market site from 6pm to midnight.  We chose to make these lanterns for many reasons – the berry boxes have been made in Nova Scotia for many years, the boxes have become a symbol of farm markets and of buying local to support local farmers – and supporting local basket industries.  Plus the festival was at night! 

We learned of these lanterns a few years ago when someone came up to us after a basket talk to tell us about how he made them as a kid, hung them on the clothesline and then watched as the candle cast shadows on the red-stained boxes and then in wonder as they caught fire.  For the past few Summer Nova Scotia Designer Craft Council Markets, we have been demonstrating this craft.  Each year, someone came to us and said they had made them as kids in Halifax.  At Nocturne, a friend told me he had made them as a kid – in Dartmouth.  All these folk were kids in the 1950s.  The berry box makers were amused; they had no idea their boxes were being used in this way.

We agreed to show 75 people how to make 75 lanterns over a 6-hour time period.  They could take them home free.  We were paid for both our materials and our time.  This was our major fundraiser for 2011. We had a lighted display of several twinkling lanterns hanging inside the market building.  Our merry band of 10 Guild members in 2-hour shifts between 6pm and midnight was located under a tent with lights in a sheltered area between two of the market “lanterns”, the glass projections on the front of the building.  We had 75 battery-operated tea lights, 600 boxes from Burgess Baskets of Newport Station, Hants County, twist ties and hanging wires – and copies of the instructions.

The 75 lanterns were made within the first hour and a half…

We phoned home for more tea lights.  At the end of the next hour, we phoned home again for the rest of the boxes Guild members had collected over the summer.  By 10pm, we were completely out of all materials and were handing out the instructions with apologies.     

All in all, about 150 lanterns were made with lights and about another 150 lanterns without lights, for a total of about 300 lanterns (1,800 boxes!).

It was a crazy magical time – people were happy having so much fun, working together or by themselves, young kids with parents/grandparents, late teens, 20-somethings – all keen to make lanterns - on the tables or setting up on the sidewalk.  The unpredictable wind added to the evening by whipping the boxes out of people’s hands, sending the instructions flying through the air and scattering the colourful telephone wires across the tables.  The tent stayed tied down – whew!  People came to us saying they had seen the lighted lanterns swinging along the Halifax waterfront, up Barrington Street and inside Citadel Hill.  The lanterns carried their message of delight and intrigue – all by themselves!

And we learned another way of putting the boxes together – joining the 4 “middle” boxes on the diagonal – try it!

People told us they were taking this idea home to their community groups, their classrooms and their families.  Hopefully, the message will be relayed to the big grocery chains to market local berries in Nova Scotian made wooden boxes.  This year, due to economic pressure from industry, Webster’s Farms in Cambridge, Annapolis County, stopped making the smaller pint-sized wooden raspberry box.

A big THANK YOU to all of you for participating – spreading the word, gathering the boxes, delivering them to our home over the summer and coming out on a wild and windy night.  We are grateful for the support of the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design, the Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market, the organizers of the Nocturne Festival and the Chronicle-Herald for their press coverage both before and after the event, October 13th and 16th.

We have already been asked to consider doing this again. 
Please start gathering boxes


Reports from the Chronicle-Herald

Thousands take in street art

October 16, 2011 - 7:22am By ELISSA BARNARD Arts Reporter

Meghan Lea of Atlantic Cirque performs during Nocturne 2011 Art at Night festival in downtown Halifax. (TED PRITCHARD / Staff)

Even the moon co-operated for the fourth annual Nocturne: Art at Night in Halifax.

It rose as a glimmering three­quarter disc over city streets flooded with people looking at avant-garde art projections on historic buildings or lining up to see bubbles at the Discovery Centre.

“It’s a very successful night," Nocturne chairwoman Rose Zack said breathlessly by cellphone as she walked on Barrington Street at 9:30 p.m..

“It’s a lovely fall night. There are a lot of families. There are lots of people who’ve never been before.

“The ferries have had 150 to 200 people for every crossing.

The website crashed a couple of times, there’s so much traffic."

The Happy Wash car-wash­style installation at Gallery Page and Strange had lines 150 to 200 deep, she said, “and they said it’s been like that all night. I just came back from the courthouse and it was over capacity and they said it’s been like that all night."

Alderney Landing recreated the north Dartmouth roller­skating rink with a macabre twist.

“We’ve got 30 members of the Halifax Roller Derby Association dressed up as zombies and skat­ing," said event producer Kim Farmer, who was in costume and skating.

“It’s just the most fun I’ve ever had, it’s great. People started lining up for their skates at 5:30.

It’s been non-stop. We’re esti­mating 5,000 people so far, defi­nitely more than last year."

This year for the first time, during Nocturne’s 6 to midnight hours, people could enter the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site and see Ilan Sandler’s Ursa Major Visits, a glowing outline of a large bear suspended like a star system in a corner of the court­yard. It was magical to look up to and see the hanging light sculp­ture.

“At one point there were peo­ple lying on the ground and looking up at it," said Parks Canada communications officer Danielle Hickey, estimating an attendance of well over 2,000.

“A lot of bear pictures were taken with the cellphone.

“At Parks Canada we’re so excited to work with HRM to be part of Nocturne."

The berry box lanterns that kids made at a crowded outdoor table, supervised by the Nova Scotia Basketry Guild at the Seaport Market, came in handy at the spooky, darkened fort.

While Occupy Nova Scotia protesters sat outside their dome tents in the Grand Parade, giant ceramic lanterns made by NSCAD University students lit the way outside the Port campus on Marginal Road.

The lanterns helped illuminate the gumball lady, or Mary-Anne Wensley, whose explanation for her piece, called Candy-Coated, was: “I don’t know. I’m just nuts."

She started out the night wear­ing a coat of 800 gumballs and handed people scissors to cut them out. “I’m starting to feel lighter," she said after encoun­ters with highly enthusiastic children.

Rock legend and resurrection met at St. Matthew’s Church where, in the darkened space, a guitar lit by red light slowly descended, to amplified sonic twang, and rose up again in William Robinson’s piece called Young Prayer, inspired by musi­cians smashing an electric guitar as a form of self-expression.

The streets of Kabul in Af­ghanistan erupted into the quiet of Bedford Row with a large-scale video by Scott Saunders and Kabul-based artist Ariel Nasr.

Emerging from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax teenager Laurr Hall was impressed.

“I love Nocturne. I’ve been twice now. I think it’s an amaz­ing way to see different people’s opinions and perspectives on visual and performance art."

About the Author

The Chronicle Herald - Tattler Section - October 20, 2011

‘Fantastic turnout’ for Nocturne 2011

The fourth annual Nocturne: Art at Night, in downtown Halifax and Dartmouth last Saturday, attracted from 20,000 to 25,000 people, exceeding organizers’ estimates of 17,000 to 20,000.

Both sides of the harbour bustled as ferries saw a 20-per-cent increase in people travelling back and forth to listen to live music and roller skate at Alderney Landing, which had over 5,000 people.

 “You could see a substantial increase in crowds and our feedback includes galleries reporting twice their attendance,” says Nocturne chair Rose Zack.

The Maritime Museum of the Atlantic doubled its attendance; Happy Wash, at the two-room Gallery Page and Strange had 3,500 people and the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site, open for its first time for Nocturne, had 4,000 people.

Nearly 5,000 people went to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, up from 4,000 in 2010. There were 1,765 visitors to a turn-of-the-century Japanese photo exhibit at the Mary E. Black Gallery and Nova Scotia Basketry Guild members, who taught kids how to make berry box lanterns, worked non-stop from 6 to 10 p.m. until they ran out of boxes.

To keep the volunteer-run event sustainable Nocturne has ACOA funding to develop a strategic plan.

 “We want to make sure we keep it growing and grow it in a positive way,” says Zack. “I hope it’s a catalyst for people to support arts and culture throughout the year.” (Elissa Barnard)