End of Tradition?

Earlier this month i mentioned that i would be photographing the Mayday events taking place in an English village. I’m glad to say that i did manage to cover the maypole dancing that day even though the weather forecast was less than encouraging.

Twelve people dancing around a Maypole doesn’t sound too difficult to photograph, and most of the time it isn’t, but it does offer the photographer a slight challenge. The weather didn’t help either with dark clouds threatening to soak everyone. Fortunately the rain did not appear and the dark clouds did make a dramatic backdrop to some of the images.

Traditional dancing is a popular spectator event, but it seems that the numbers of people wanting to take part in the dancing itself are dropping. Several local groups are finding it hard to gain new members – one local Morris dancing group closed due to older members retiring and a lack of new recruits joining. Many other groups may meet the same fate.

Even the garland dancers featured in the gallery photographs are finding recruiting very hard. It may be the case that in a number of years, events like this just won’t take place. Once these traditional dance groups go, it will be incredibly difficult to start them up again. Sadly there just doesn’t seem to be the interest in carrying on many of the rural traditions.

I will be photographing the event next year as well as part of a multimedia piece. I’d like to capture the sounds and atmosphere along with the images before they possibly disappear forever. Hopefully I’ll get better light to shoot with too.

More images can be seen at http://www.richardflintphoto.com/portfolio/maypole/

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A Heathenish Vanity

I thought i’d give a glimpse of something I’m working on at the moment. It’s coming to the time of year when people get dressed up and dance around a brightly coloured pole – a Maypole. It’s usually a very popular event and hopefully there will be some acceptable British bank holiday weather – a tall order i know but it could happen!

Next Monday i’ll going along to the Mayday celebrations to photograph the festivities and try and capture some of the atmosphere. The Maypole featured in the photo above is a permanent iconic structure on the local village green, unlike many other village Maypoles that are put up and taken down when required. Most of the year it just stands waiting, waiting patiently for May to arrive when it will become the focus of attention.

The history of the Maypole is fascinating with the practice falling in and out of favour with the ‘authorities’ on many occasions. Probably one of the more amusing descriptions comes from the Long Parliament ordinance of 1644 describing maypoles as “a Heathenish vanity, generally abused to superstition and wickedness.” Plenty to photograph then!

It’s old world clashing into the new, although it could be strongly argued that most village Maypole usage these days has more to do with tourism than any olde world beliefs. One visitor to the local celebrations where i am, is apparently coming all the way from Atlanta!

Look out for a Maypole gallery coming to  the main photography website soon