A series of events and activities on the theme of Folk
This Autumn we are delving into The MERL collections, and looking beyond, to explore the theme of Folk. What do we mean by ‘folk’? What is ‘folklore’? Do our collections represent ‘folk customs’ and ‘folk culture’? We have put together a fascinating and varied programme of events and activities to explore folk collecting, collections, and folklore. Events range from a seminar series, Lecture and Late, to a contemporary art exhibition and activities for families.
For many The MERL is a ‘folk museum’, established to house ‘folk collections’ and ‘folk art’, and to represent the lives of ‘country folk.’ But it’s not that simple. The English word ‘folk’ has straightforward roots but a complex history. For a long time its use harboured negative connotations in Britain, where it came to refer to the uncultured aspects of everyday life and to the simplified rustic charm of folksy rural backwaters. Intended to provide a scientific backbone to the study of traditional beliefs and stories, the word ‘folklore’ became a byword for the weird and wacky. Folk culture was drawn into debates around nationalism and even national socialism. Add to this mix a complex blend of politics and popular culture and the history of folk suddenly seems much more than just a charming and amusing by-line of social history.
In this programme of events we explore, with the help of academics, contemporary artists, folklorists, and writers changing perceptions of folk and a whole range of aspects of folk culture. Curator Ollie Douglas introduces the series here and explains ‘why the folk’ you should be interested.
What’s On? The Full Programme of Events and Activities
Land and Folk: Seminar Series
Tuesdays 12-1pm, from 25th September
Sunday Craft Drop-in: Make a folk themed mask
14th October, 11am to 1pm
Steve Claydon – The Outside In
20th October to 13th January
Half term: family activities
20th to 28th October
Stepping out of Time: The MERL Annual Lecture
6th November, 7.15pm
FOLK: A MERL Late
20th November, 7-10pm