Harp and a Monkey
We’re very excited to be able to bring you this brilliant song by Harp and a Monkey inspired by our very own Museum!
The video was produced as part of The Library Presents scheme which “brings physical and digital arts activities for all ages into towns and villages across Cambridgeshire. To see the latest programme of events and workshops visit www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/arts”
Thankyou to The Library Presents team for putting us in touch and of course to Harp and a Monkey for taking part. We look forward to working with them further, and we’ll be putting this in the Minecraft Arts Trail!
Here’s some details from Harp and a Monkey:
As the people of Britain embrace the partial reopening of our ‘houses of heritage’, the award-winning song and storytelling trio Harp & a Monkey are making public the fruits of a new project that celebrates the value of our public museums, galleries and archives.
The Ballad of Wisbech Museum is a timely reminder (in song and imagery) of the vital role that cultural centres play in our lives, and the pride and care involved in maintaining them.
Harp & a Monkey front-man Martin Purdy explains: “For many of us, places like museums provide an oasis of calm in a frantic world. As soon as you enter and the door closes behind you, the chaos of the street disappears and it’s like being embraced by a special kind of stillness. Many of us find these places totally immersive and magical – somewhere we can have a quiet thought in our own heads.”
We agree. The Museum is a perfect place to take time out from a busy day, or to just enjoy a quiet moment. Always worth a visit, seeing something new each time, and of course a good place to find local history books and unusual gifts.
“This sector, not unlike our own in the music world, has faced – and continues to face – very tough times. We’ve done a lot of projects with museums, archives and galleries in the past and we were pleased to be asked to help celebrate the important role they play, and must continue to play, in archiving our past and providing vital lessons for our future.”
The Lancastrian trio’s commission came via the Arts Council and The Library Presents, which is Cambridgeshire County Council’s arts project for County Libraries. The challenge was to write a song inspired by the The Wisbech and Fenland Museum, which is one of the oldest purpose-built museums in the UK.
Harp & a Monkey’s relationship with this particular facility dates back to late 2019 when they launched their acclaimed fourth album, The Victorians, with a live show in the facility.
In keeping with the founding history of the building, for this particular project the trio used a pre-existing song from the period of its birth (1847) for their initial inspiration. The song they chose was unearthed by the outfit’s banjo player Andy Smith, and is an old Victorian Broadsheet called The Electors of Cambridge, which was itself a reworking of an even older ballad called Fly Not Yet.
Here’s the music and we’re sure you’ll love the film too:
The Ballad of Wisbech Museum is accompanied by a short art film put together by the band’s harpist Simon Jones, who is an internationally recognised art photographer and animator.
Like the tracks on their last album, The Ballad of Wisbech Museum has been mixed by the in-demand Darren Jones, whose clients include the likes of Stormzy, Tom Walker and Harry Styles.