The Winter solstice in December 2012 will once again see the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens in downtown Vancouver’s Chinatown lit up with 100’s of beautiful lanterns to celebrate the longest, darkest night of the year. One of these lanterns was created specially this week in an enlightening and creative evening hosted together by the Gardens and the Eco-arts team.
Led by Jacquie Rolston, a gifted lantern maker (who stumbled upon the craft and discovered her passion in a self -confessed roundabout way) we were her motley crew of inspiring poets, animated storytellers, numerous enthusiastic members of the public and volunteers, eager to get started on creating the snake but if anything like me, perhaps creatively challenged and unable to fully envisage how the bare wire and wood frame would materialize into a snake lantern…
Throughout the night the atmosphere was set by some utterly beautiful snake themed poems written and read by local poets Lenore Rowntree and Don Fox as well as a reading of ‘Snake’ by DH Lawrence, which were by turn dark and mysterious, funny, short, philosophical and all in tribute to the Great Snake itself- a creature as legend has it both feared and revered, charming and wise. Lenore had written a poignant poem specifically for this evening based on the Money plant- the luminescent scales of which were being used to decorate the head and tail of the snake. I was in awe of the touching, lively storytelling performance from Mary Gavan who taught us the value of trust in our friends and fellows, even in a snake..
Towards the end of the evening Jacquie announced that we were ready to see the snake in action, and the excitement in the room was tangible as the cloth was finally lifted onto the wood and wire frame and we could envisage how the Snake will look on the night- and I was struck by not only how alive and vivid it immediately became, but also by the unity in this group of strangers, artists, volunteers, running amok through sacks of donated lace and coloured plastic, gold paper and recycled bottles, sequins and wool, to collectively create such a beautiful thing.
We look forward to watching our great snake begin its journey towards the Chinatown Lunar New year parade. Its first trip out in public will be at the winter solstice Secret Lantern Society lantern night on the 21st December at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. We hope to see you there to join in.