A Very Colourful Life
When the Scottish Government decided to mark the centenary of Muir’s death in 2014 by celebrations on his birthday, Dunbar Primary School resolved to be involved. After all, DPS is descended from the school he attended in Dunbar and is the only school that can claim Muir as a former pupil. When the Muirs emigrated to Wisconsin in1849 there were no school for the state was new and part of the American frontier. When schools were built, John as the oldest boy could not be
spared from farm work.
The pupils and staff had to mark his life with something really spectacular. But what? It was a parent-member of the DPS School Council who had the brilliant idea which would involve every class. Eden Blair had lived in Oregon and knew the story of Muir’s life. Could the school somehow recount the story of Muir’s life?
There were 34 classes, so Eden selected 34 key events in Muir’s life and wrote a couple of sentences describing each. Scraps of material, buttons, coloured tape and the like were collected divided up into 34 bundles. Then an event, a bundle of bits, a square metre of canvas, and the challenge to produce a collage illustrating their event were given to the teacher of each class.
Pupils and teachers set to with enthusiasm and inspiration to turn Eden’s words into a picture and gradually 34 original panels began to take shape, each a page in Muir’s very colourful life. On 21 April 2014, they made their first public appearance as part of Dunbar’s John Muir Centennial celebrations.
Then, in early February of this year, Friends offered to finance the production of a book which would make the panels available to a much wider audience. A text to accompany the illustrations would provide a young person’s biography of John Muir.
Professional photographer Rob McDougall, himself a DPS former pupil,
photographed the panels and donated copies of his images. Emma Westwater, of Source Design, who has been involved in all but one of our books, was enlisted to design the 72-page book. A final proof was delivered to the printers in April 2015.
The print run was 3,500 with each of the county’s 34 primary schools receiving a free class set. DPS received an additional 1,000 copies. Selling at £5 per copy, these will provide the school with the resources to maintain the panels for the future.
Copies are available from Dunbar Primary School and John Muir’s Birthplace, or by post by sending a cheque for £6 (£10 overseas for p&p) to Friends, John Muir’s Birthplace, 126 High Street Dunbar EH42 1AQ
A Very Colourful Life
2015 sees the 125th anniversary of the creation of Yosemite National
Park. The persuasive writings of John Muir were instrumental in the
legislation passing speedily through Congress and the Park came in to
being on 1 October 1890.
To mark the occasion the John Muir Birthplace Trust and Friends of
John Muir’s Birthplace are delighted to welcome the Andante Chamber
Choir from the Scottish Borders who will perform a number of choral
pieces with an American flavour, including a work specially composed
in honour of Muir. The choir will be supported by four instrumental
guests and there will be readings from Muir’s writings.
Following Friends’ treasurer Will Collin’s talk to the Gifford Society in late February, he received a phone call from a gentleman in Gifford wishing to donate some books on the history of Dunbar and three John Muir ones to Dunbar and District History Society and Friends. Will gratefully collected them on 17 March and was taken aback to find the Muir books, all first editions, were ‘The Mountains of California’ and two copies of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’.
1. The copy of ‘The Mountains of California’, published in 1894 by The Century Co., is inscribed on the flyleaf “To Rev Hugh Ross with very best wishes of his friend Thomas Magee, San Francisco, Oct 14/96.”
2. One copy of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’, published by Houghton Mifflin in 1913, has a card attached to flyleaf reading “From Mrs W H Averell, 325 East Avenue, Rochester, New York”
3. The other copy of ‘The Story of My Boyhood and Youth’ is inscribed on the flyleaf “To Mr Thomas T Bisset, with sincere regard, John Muir, Martinez, California, January 1914”.
Thomas Magee and Mrs Averell were friends of Muir although so far no trace has been found of Rev Hugh Ross. Clearly, though, the most important is the one inscribed in the unmistakable hand of John Muir. It is doubly so in that the recipient was T T Bissett, a Dunbar photographer of note and publisher of the Bissett Series of postcards some of which are among the Muir Papers at the University of the Pacific. Research on all three is continuing and more details will appear in the next Friends’ newsletter.
|April 21, 2014|
|10:00 am||to||3:00 pm|
Thanks to the efforts and enthusiasm of a small group of parents led by Mrs Eden Blair, each of the 34 classes in Scotland’s largest primary school have embarked on a literally massive project. Eden, herself from the USA, has identified 34 key times or happenings in John Muir’s life. Each class has been given one event to explore and will turn their ideas into a collage. The 34 panels and one carrying the title will then be combined into the final tapestry. The tapestry will be on display at Our Lady of the Waves church hall on Monday April 21 between 10 am and 3 pm for the opening of the John Muir Way.
As reported in FoJMB Newsletter #25, October 2013 Education Scotland had chosen John Muir to be a nominated figure in Scottish Studies and funding found for the publication of a graphic book telling of the life of Dunbar’s most famous son. The graphic novel was launched by Scottish Book Trust on April 2nd. Written by award-winning author Julia Bertagna and illustrated by Glasgow-based artist William Goldsmith, the novel is based on the key moments and life adventures of John Muir and is intended to help children develop a deeper understanding and awareness of the natural environment and the importance of protecting wild places. A class set of 24 copies will be distributed to every secondary school in Scotland this month to coincide with the opening of the John Muir Way by the First Minister on the 21 April 2014.
This new graphic novel about John Muir http://www.scottishbooktrust.com/johnmuir can now be downloaded. It is a great resource for children, parents and teachers.
|April 20, 2014|
|10:00 am||to||6:00 pm|
10am – Bird identity walk with David Bates, DCWG convenor
11am – Easter Egg Hunt for the wee ones – with DCWG
12 – 5pm – Log Drum workshop with Andy Penicuik
12.30pm – Food/lunch, setting fire in the clay oven and the camp-fire
2.30pm – ‘Mad about Muir’, a promenade play in the woods, by Quids In theatre
3.30pm – planting of a sequoia tree, and wild flowers too
4.30pm – Woodland Barbecue – pay as you eat: venison steaks, venison burgers, wild garlic and nettle soup, baked goodies from the clay oven
5.30pm – story telling around the camp fire
Most events will take place at the Gathering Space near the corner of Kellie/Middlemas Road. All Welcome.
More details at the Lochend Woods website.