Monday, April 24, 2017

Huldufólk: Iceland Residency Exhibition celebrates hidden folk & folklore of the land

"Rain" by Justin Oaksford
There's been a renewed world-wide interest in Iceland's rich mystical heritage and land in the past few years, which is wonderful to see. We get excited about this because the fairy tales and folklore are, at first glance, very different from the wood based fairy tales and folklore most people are familiar with and associate with fairy tales, which brings a greater awareness to different types of tales world wide. Though at first look they might appear very different from the canonical fairy tales, it really doesn't take long to notice that these tales have grown out of the land, traditions and peoples, just like tales from other places have. And just like folk visiting the Black Forest in Germany feel close to and inspired by wonder tales, so too, it seems, that people visiting Iceland cannot help but feel that folkloric vibe, directly off the land itself.
"Near" by Bridget Underwood

"Troll Hill" by Andrew Olson

Light Grey Art Lab's Huldufólk Exhibition is all about unique Icelandic, land-based wonder, which, no surprise, includes folklore and fairy tales. Although not all pieces have clear depictions of folkloric creatures, and many pieces of the exhibition are straight landscapes, it doesn't take too much squinting to see giants, trolls and large land people crouching and brooding over the world in those paintings and sketches either. Do you see a sleeping giant head, with pointy beard, in the landscape below like we do?
"5" by Erin McGuire
The exhibition, which even with just a handful of specifically folklore and fairy tale focused subjects, inspired storytelling, grew out of a special, on location residency. A group of (lucky!) artists traveled to Iceland and toured, bringing their art supplies with them of course, to study the landscape and be inspired by the natural and mystical wonders in person. The exhibition is a collection of work created (or at least started) during the tour.
Huldufólk Exhibition celebrates the hidden folk, trolls, fairies and folklore found in Icelandic culture. The faces in the rocks, hidden pools, smoking earth, and ever-surprising landscape influences some of the characters and mythology inherent in Iceland storytelling. The Huldufólk Exhibition includes artwork by the artists that attended the Light Grey Iceland Residency in 2015. Each artist exhibits a unique collection of prints and originals inspired by their experiences in Iceland.
"To find your way in bad weather" by Kate O'Hara

"Thunder" by Justin Oaksford

"Iceland Proverb: The Hills" by Michelle Schwartzbauer

"Hrafntinna" by Corey Godbey
(who illustrates here how John Bauer's work grew out of the mythical landscapes of his beloved Scandinavian countries)

"To avoid ghosts and evil spirits" by Kate O'Hara

"Hear" by Bridget Underwood

Light Grey Art Lab brings together artists and designers from all sorts of disciplines to learn, educate and exhibit together, with the goal of fostering a 'global creative community'. Artists are welcomed to participate, submit from all over the world for various exhibitions, events and for special residencies, and it's no surprise to see folklore and fairy tale subjects pop up quite often - both as themes for an exhibit or as part of one. We've subscribed to make sure we don't miss out on anything wondrous in the future.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Photography: 'Grimm Compact' by Laura Zalenga

 We've been wanting to share German photographer, Laura Zalenga's fairy tale series, titled Grimm Compact. Created as an homage to tales printed by the Grimms, the photos show a key or iconic active moment from a fairy tale, frozen in the frame and, usually, zoomed in. It's a unique a wonderful way to distill a fairy tale down to a recognizable moment, without words and without much context, and it's one of the best series - whether illustrative or photographic - that we've seen, do this.

(Laura) is convinced that photography is a type of therapy that gives you the ability to heal yourself and others.
"Till today that big Old Brothers Grimm fairy-tale book stands next to my bed. And quite obviously it inspired me. For this specific series I wanted to create an homage.. but there were already so many interpretations out there. I was thinking about what makes these stories unique and one big point is that they are rather simple but still - or because of that work so well, that Disney turned some of them into movies. Whenever we see a girl with a red coat we think of Little Red Riding Hood, whenever we see a single show some point out that it must be Cinderella. So I focused on these one or two elements in every one of these fairy-tales, that one scene that everyone remembers from the story. Actually that is a thought that I like for my photography in genera;l. We see one frame of a story and the rest is up to our minds." (Source)

Do we need to list the fairy tales for you? These are mostly canonical tales so we shouldn't... Enjoy!

You can learn more about Laura's process HERE and see more of her photography HERE.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Political Cartoons & Fairy Tales 2017: 'The President Who Cried Wolf'

Artist unknown - Source HERE

Using fairy tales in political commentary, and especially political cartoons is something of a tradition. The current state of US politics and national division being what it is, it's no surprise to see certain fairy tales making regular appearances again. Always popular for referencing politics are Pinocchio, The Emperor's New Clothes and Jack and the Beanstalk, all making regular appearances in tense times and The Boy Who Cried Wolf, though usually less used, is a regular 'go to' for 2017, accompanying cries of fake news and 'alternative facts'.

Above is a political cartoon by Tom Toles, from The Washington Post, focusing on distractions - the other, related, theme of Cry Wolf.

Charleston City Paper has regular cartoons, drawn and written by Stegelin, and uses fairy tales regularly for social commentary as well. The latest makes use of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, with the emphasis on 'alternative facts'.

We'll just leave it here for you to critique. (Click to view full size.)

Friday, April 21, 2017

'Where The Water Tastes Like Wine' - An American Folklore Game About Traveling, Telling & Collecting Stories

Listed as one of the best Indie games of 2017 by GDC (Game Developer's Conference) and Gameinformer magazine, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine sounds like no other offering we've heard of. I mean the all-governing currency is stories that you collect during your travels and tell around the campfires. What a fantastic mechanism!

And if you like Bluegrass, Blues, 'roots' and Woodie Guthrie inspired music, you'll probably want the game, just for the OST (official soundtrack).

You play a traveler wandering through the United States - and through a century of history and the Great Depression era - to meet a variety of people, each with their own stories to tell. Presented as a "bleak American folktale", the currency is stories you collect on your travels, and that you tell around the campfires. A fantastical undercurrent runs through the game, with anamorphic people and surreal encounters being a common occurrence. The map is a gorgeous illustrative overlay filled with trees, highways, and campfires that glow in the night. (We've included some development art in this post.)

Envisioned as "a bleak American folktale," Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is a gripping and morbid adventure game that lets players explore the landscape of the country, using stories they find along the way as currency. The brief snippet we played showcased gorgeous visuals, a lovely soundtrack, and fantastic short stories that were both moving and macabre. – (Javy Gwaltney, Gameinformer)

Sounds pretty interesting, right? Well it gets better. Turns out there are multiple characters to be found all over this America, both with folktales and personal stories to tell, and the developers employed a wide variety of excellent writers to be the 'voices' for each one. (You can read their impressive bios HERE.) This means the telling is done differently by each character and the flavor of the stories and the person change, just like they do when collecting stories in life.
Take a look at the trailer:
We get more insight into the game and the folktale aspect via a few different interviews. Excerpts are below with the source credited after each extract:
"The art suggests that there's more going on in the world than what we necessarily see," Nordhagen told IGN. "Every once in a while we see through the cracks in the world and get a peek at other realities. It's recognizably America, though - poker and trains, the Southwestern desert mesas, and something that suggests the colorful and idyllic farm produce labels of the beginning of the 20th century. It's the sort of America that might live in tall tales, in blues, folk, and bluegrass songs, and travelers' stories." (IGN)
"The title comes from a folk song, or, more accurately, lots of different folk songs," Nordhagen explained. "American folk culture is one of collaboration, sharing songs and stories but giving them your personal twist. It comes from many different cultures - the European settlers, the slaves that were forced to live here, the workers who have traveled here in search of opportunity, and of course the people actually native to this land." 
"Many of the songs, stories, and poems deal with hardship, especially in the blues genre, and many are about traveling the country," he added, citing such influences as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Grapes of Wrath and On the Road. "There are many stories of other American wanderers that rarely get told - the spread of African Americans from the south, the movement of migratory farm workers, or the forced marches of native people. Where the Water Tastes Like Wine wants to capture the feeling of those songs, poems, stories, and wanderings in a game." (eurogamer)
Heroic travelers aren't the only people featured in the game. "Most of the romantic road stories out there are white males traveling and having adventures," he said. "That is a freedom only available to those people, but a lot of travelers don't have that freedom and I want to tell stories of people who have been displaced." (polygon)
Here are some screen shots:

Sounds ambitious - and wonderful! Right now the release date is yet to be set but this will be available for Steam, PC/Mac later in the year, and other platforms XBoxOne and PS4 sometime later after that. We're thinking of preordering!

To finish, here's an interview with the creator (known for his critically acclaimed previous game Gone Home) at the convention SXSW 2017 (South By South West) in which you can hear a little more about how this game came to be, and see some more of the art in motion and a little gameplay. It begins with a typical upbeat 'gamer' intro, but quickly gets into the meat of the interview. Totally worth watching we promise. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

New 'Labyrinth' Movie Officially in the Works [without The Goblin King we know & love]

Brian Froud - concept for Labyrinth
Yes - you read it correctly. There is a new Labyrinth movie in the works  - and it's a sequel, that is, a 'continuation' of the first movie.

Not a remake.

We repeat: This is NOT a remake!


We can't quite imagine how it's going to work quite as much wonder without our favorite Goblin King (the late, great David Bowie), but we're willing to wait and hope.

Don't Breathe director, Fede Alvarez will co-write the script and be directing. Best of all, Lisa Henson will be producing. (Yay!)
Insiders stress that the new project is not a remake nor a reboot but rather a continuation of the story set in the rich Henson universe. The goblin king will not be represented in the film. (THR)
Did you read that last line properly? The goblin king will not be represented in the film. So... how this will be a sequel, exactly, is yet to be discovered. Lisa Henson being on board means we should be spending a good chunk of time in the Labyrinth - or the Goblin City - at least. (We hope.)

While we can imagine a myriad of interesting stories with this teensy bit of information, none of the ideas come close to matching to The Goblin King in our minds, but what we really want to know is: will Toby Froud be involved again? (Technically, with the Goblin King's passing - doesn't Toby become the Goblin King?) He's become a masterful artist, sculptor and puppeteer in his own right and his touch would be perfect for the film. Not to mention he and his wife Sarah (we know!) have a little Toby, er, #cabbageprince, of their own, though he's older now than Toby was when they made Labyrinth. Ah, possibilities!

Screenwriter, Nicole Perlman, who is not involved in the sequel, but instead wrote some story ideas between 2014 (when the idea for a second movie became a possibility) and January 2016 took to Twitter to clear up some rumors about this in January of LAST year, so this has been in the works for quite some time.
Oh - and a bit of trivia that, considering the director, might be pertinent background for the upcoming movie, did you know that...
The original film was scripted by Monty Python's Terry Jones. Its story was inspired by the Maurice Sendak children's book Outside Over There, which was itself inspired by the real-life kidnapping of aviator Charles Lindbergh's infant son. (Telegraph)
There is currently no release timeline for the movie but filming is scheduled to commence in Fall 2017.

So - basically: 
Is a Labyrinth sequel needed?
Will we watch it?
And we will be here as it unfolds...
should you need us.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

'Fairy Tale Roundup' Newsletter to Launch (& OUABlog & TT are involved - sign up now for 1st issue debut!)

Swans Rescue by Rebecca Solow (from 'The Witch' & a series based on Russian folktales)
There is an exciting new fairy tale resource about to launch and wing its way directly to your inboxes! It's for fairy tale news, fairy tale submission announcements, fairy tale writing tips, fairy tale tidbits... you get the idea: all things fairy tale! 

A smorgasbord of all-fairy-tale-goodness, heaped temptingly into one delicious monthly newsletter for all fairy tale folk, the newsletter is being coordinated by sister-blog, Enchanted Conversation and, oh yes - we're part of it!

Both Once Upon A Blog and Timeless Tales are involved, along with a few other folks. Our hope is that over time the list of fairy tale site contributors will grow, as we bring you more of what you love. Just like in fairy tales, we believe that when we work together we can be stronger, together, and help support our readers and fellow fairy tale sites even better.

All you have to do to enjoy this new co-op is to subscribe.. for FREE.

Here's a modified excerpt from the new newsletter announcement at the host site, Enchanted Conversation:
Announcing our *new* FAIRY TALE ROUNDUP! 
Fairy Tale Roundup is a  brand new, monthly co-op newsletter, filled with information about writing and reading opportunities for fairy tale fans! 
Our monthly report will include
- Fairy tale news
- Submission opportunities
- Exclusive writing tips,
- And all things fairy tale from popular fairy tale, fantasy, and folklore sites! 
We will be including news from Enchanted Conversation, of course, but not just EC: World Weaver Press (publisher of Kate Wolford's anthologies, along with other fantasy, paranormal and sci-fi) will include news of forthcoming publications and submission opportunities. Once Upon a Blog, a site jam-packed with fairy tale news, will contribute, along with partner, Timeless Tales, who publish new short stories based on classic fairy tales and myths. As a bonus, Tales of Faerie will also be in the mix now and then! 
We hope, in time, more sites will join in, making Fairy Tale Roundup your favorite source for fairy tale news and opportunities on the web. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

From the Seasonal Archives - Household Tales: Easter, Baba Yaga & The Monster Chicken

Bunny Beware by Michael Sowa
A little treat from my household to yours.
You've probably heard of Baba Yaga and her hut on chicken legs. But did you know the hut has its own story? 
The chicken-legged house spends all year long soaking up the magic leaking out of Baba Yaga's kitchen, and one day each new Spring (a day we call Easter), there's finally enough in its bones that a wondrous thing happens. The hut shakes its walls and shingles into feathers, breaking enough of the spell keeping it chained to Baba Yaga's bidding, to transform into the strangest half-house, half-chicken monster anyone has ever seen. 
Having picked up a few tricks living with its Master, the hut always manages to escape, forcing Baba Yaga to give chase. For a whole day, the Monster Chicken plays a mischievous game of hide-and-seek, dodging the Yaga's flying mortar and pestle by hiding in the yards of good-hearted children. Wherever it sits and makes a hurried nest, it leaves monster eggs as thank you's for the household's hospitality.  
Hut on chicken legs during the spring nesting season
Divo-Ostrov", Saint-Petersburg
At the end of one whole day and one whole night, however, the hut is tired and has enough of running. Baba Yaga catches up with it and drags her little house back to their home in the woods. There it gives one great shake before turning its body back into a hut and settling into a good long sleep, dreaming of the next year when it can run on its own again.  
But even though the hut is sleeping, sometimes the dreams are so strong, it gets up on its legs, stretches them out, turns around and settles down again, without even waking up...
Update April 2017: My son, now 10, still adores this tale of ours (and if any of you have had visits from the Monster Chicken  my son would LOVE to hear about it!). With the fairly recent news confirming many dinosaurs as having feathers, in addition to being related to chickens, this story no longer seems quite as fanciful... ;) He looks forward to visits from the Monster Chicken even more than the Easter Bunny. Frankly, I think the Easter Bunny is tickled to have the magical company in our yard every year. 
Mystic Chicken by Ekaterina/Philieria
 Do you have a personal 'Household Tale' of your own you'd like to share? Write to fairytalenews AT gmail DOT com. We'd love to share your personal traditions and stories.