By Lauren Fry
Designer and Arts educator, Lauren Fry was given the herculean task of trawling through the Victorian Isle of Wight newspaper archive to tease out stories and fragments of Sandown history that combine to illustrate the make-up of a place. The resultant exhibition, Foible & Folly, features three large articulated paper dolls, that will be displayed in the window of Boojum&Snark over the year.
Lauren Fry, said: “When I started looking through the British Newspaper Archives online my only predetermined idea was that I wasn’t interested in celebrity visitors or Royals gracing the town with their presence. I wanted to find stories about people that were the fabric of Sandown and understand a little about their daily experience. Each story that made the cut contained something I couldn’t get out of my mind, the anthropomorphic form of a sailor from HMS Minotaur, a donkey attributed with the human trait of being spiteful and where did the man who stole two pigeons and rabbit actually hide them? Foible & Folly is a celebration of men (and beasts) that were part of Sandown’s story and although 30 years apart one building was the location of their mishaps and misdemeanours a building, The Kings Head, that is again the talk of the town as its story has taken another turn with heritage squatters briefly occupying the Ocean Hotel.”
In order to get the community involved Lauren utilised online sources and pre-prepared activity packs, managing to gain some great community input including words of wisdom inspired by the often wacky Things Thoughtful quotes published in the Isle of Wight Times as well as working with young people to make thaumatropes, popular victorian optical toys used to animate the scenes. Collaborating with local poet, King Stammers, they managed to get people contributing comical haikus about the Sandown stories.
Lauren said: “It’s really important to me that my work looks accessible, I want people to see it and be inspired to have a go at making something rather than feel alienated by high-brow art materials. I’m driven by the belief that engagement with art in any form has far-reaching positive outcomes.”
Julie Jones-Evans, Boojum&Snark co-founder, said: “Foible & Folly, has given us the opportunity to peep back in time. It has got the community exploring their own creativity and has encouraged us to see Sandown through new eyes. Lauren has breathed life into perhaps forgotten stories and people. It’s very clever how the reflections of buildings when you photograph the characters place them back once again on the High Street!”
About Lauren Fry
Lauren Fry is a designer and arts educator from the Isle of Wight working under the name Studio Wren. Spending her days supporting vulnerable young people, art is her escapism and passion. Lauren’s creative journey has taken her from curating immersive exhibitions and running artist studios in empty shops to qualifying as an art teacher and now exploring her own creative practice, all fuelled by the belief that engagement in art and artistic experiences has far-reaching positive outcomes for all. Lauren’s work focuses on accessible media, the joy of process and striking colour palettes, all driven by a desire to create intriguing narratives, stimulate conversation and draw bearded wrinkly men