The Raucous Races were two ‘family fun day’ events in September 2016 and 2017, organised by the Council in partnership with Enter Edem an art and theatre company specialising in public events on streets and in unlikely locations.
The races were held at Victoria Park (the site of a former racecourse) and involved a range of ‘Victorian’ characters and even Richard III, entertaining park visitors. A wide range of activities were on offer including the opportunity to take part in races on top of horsey space-hoppers.
Careful selection of characters and activities meant lots of fun that linked well with the park’s heritage and history.
Story of Parks partnered with Leicester Print Workshop to run this innovative project to explore the history of some of the city’s parks in the spring of 2017. Two local community groups, Mothers Unite, a support group for women who are living apart from their children, and Network for Change, a social enterprise assisting adults with mental health issues took part, as well as Moat Community College, a school in Highfields.
Each group started with with a session at Leicester Print Workshop, followed by accompanied visits to look at the historical features of a local park. The visits provided inspiration for the groups to produce their own individual prints and each group also designed a collaborative print that was then used to make a postcard celebrating the heritage of each park.
The project also included drop-in printmaking workshops at the Riverside Festival in June 2017 where a collaborative themed around Bede Park was made. The success of the project was built upon with further community groups participating in two more rounds of the project.
The Finest Ruin by Ivo de Jager, a third year History student at the University of Leicester, is a play specially written for the Story of Parks project. The play was produced and performed by University of Leicester students and directed by Edward Spence.
The Finest Ruin is inspired by the Arch of Remembrance, the war memorial in Victoria Park. The Drama flicks between the 1920s when it was being designed by world-renowned architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, who also designed the India Gate in New Delhi, and the 1950s where two women from diverse cultural backgrounds happen to meet under the shadow of the Arch and become friends.
All three reflect on the meaning of art, friendship and remembrance whilst exploring what the Arch has come to represent for the people of Leicester. It was performed over several days in Leicester’s Y Theatre in 2016 and 2017. A special outdoor performance was held beneath the arch in Victoria park in November 2017.
‘Writing The Finest Ruin has been a great experience. I did a lot of research on the history of Leicester and the life of Sir Edwin Lutyens, to ensure the play is accurate and infuse it with life.’ -Ivo de Jager