Were you part of the Monster Extraction Team this weekend?

Orchard Park was the setting for a very unusual hunt on Friday and Saturday, as people joined the Monster Extraction Team to help clear some of the ‘Critical Monster Mass’ that’s been slowly growing across the country.

Gathering just as dusk fell, the intrepid participants were met by Nick and Simone, leaders of the Monster Extraction Team, who took them on a tour of the area around St. Michael’s Youth Project.

Spotting monsters and hearing them tell the stories of how they’d been created, they were tasked with the job of releasing some who’d built up to dangerous proportions…

Lead artist Peter Snelling of My Pockets explains:

‘The concept is about bad feelings and emotions creating monsters.

‘Brothers falling out, a young girl with no confidence, being told your work isn’t up to scratch – any conflict, big or small, creates monsters.

‘Once a monster’s been created, it hides in the nearest object. There’s millions of them, watching us, but all they want is to be set free.’

Working with Men in Sheds – Age UK’s initiative to support older men who want to share and learn new skills – and the local community to create a number or puppets for the performances, Monster Extraction has been very much rooted in the Orchard Park community. Peter continues:

‘Back to Ours does a lot of work in the area, so it made sense for the commission to have its backdrop there.

‘A lot of the voices you’ll hear are local people, and we’ve been working together for months to develop their stories and ideas into what took place at the weekend.

‘It really has been wonderful to work with so many different people and communities in Orchard Park. People have really embraced the project, used their creativity and welcomed us in with lots of warmth, laughs – and the odd tear.’

Back to Ours Programme Producer Claire Drury said:

‘Last year, we invited artists to wow us with ambitious, unusual ideas for commissions.

‘Monster Extraction was one of those where we all just read it and said, ‘we need to support this. We need to make it happen’.

‘We deliberately didn’t shout about the performances too much because they had to remain very local to Orchard Park, which they have done. It’s such a rich and emotional piece of work, we can’t wait to see where it could lead artistically for My Pockets, and how it could develop further.’

All images by Jerome Whittingham.