21 March 2011

to the lamplighter

Image from Lamplighter's Invocation Printed Matter

Saturday's Lamplighter Invocation was, for me, one of those evenings where the universe stops for a moment and gives you the gift of a perfect Dusk.  The snow that was threatening the afternoon subsided, the Super Moon made an appearance, and the ceremony went off without a hitch.  Participants gathered at the Gatekeeper's Lodge at 7:10 pm, and observed my approach as the lantern carrier.

Lantern carrier on Lodge Road

One lantern was hanging from the light hook on the porch of the Gatekeeper's Lodge to gather the participants, while the lantern carrier balanced the remaining four lanterns.  As five lamp posts were moved from the park's Tower Road entrance, then installed at the Young Street entrance, the lantern carrier walked from the old lamp post site to the new relocated lanterns.

Reproduction Lanterns

Five reproduction collapsible brass lanterns were used in the Invocation, originally patented in 1900, the lanterns were used by engineers and miners during the same era as when the Park and Gatekeeper's Lodge were being established.  These lanterns hold a single wax candle each.  The light produced from the lanterns was lovely, and provided the participants with a means of keeping warm in the cool night.  The Invocation took place from dusk to full nightfall, so as we travelled from the Gatekeeper's Lodge to each of the five newly stationed lamp posts, the lanterns became more visually impactful.

The next component of the Invocation was a series of readings, performed while standing on the rungs of a ladder, in front of each lamp post.  I was able to read with light provided by sulphur marine flares, which also illuminated the new lamp posts, drawing attention to their bas relief details and newly refinished surface.  The reading was an adapted text from Boleslaw Prus' micro-story, Shades, which was first published in 1885, and employs the lamplighter as a metaphor for good citizens defending against a potentially dark world.  While Prus' text was written in Polish, I wanted to work with the translation myself and write into the text, so I've called my version of 'Shades' Into the Shadow; a post-mortem collaboration with Boleslaw Prus.  The micro-story was divided into five parts, one of the five was recited at each new lamp post.

Photo by CB

By the time we arrived at the fifth lamp post, night was setting in.  Each lamp post reading was completed with the phrase WE CALL TO THE LAMPLIGHTER, recited by the group.  The Invocation itself was completed with an illuminated toast to the lamplighter, where all participants lit their own celebratory sparklers from the last marine flare.

The Lamplighter's Invocation was a fantastic way to celebrate the last day of Winter, the full moon, and to call forth the lamplighter's spirit to Point Pleasant Park's newly refurbished lamp posts.  I want to thank the participants who joined me Saturday evening, making the Invocation truly special.  Also special mention to Mark Kasumovic who took all the above photos (except where noted).  

All participants in the Lamplighter's Invocation and Holy Well Excursions received limited edition printed matter related to the event (among other goodies).  If you have been hoping for an opportunity to become a Holy Well Excursioneer, fear not!  There is one more Holy Well Excursion planned.  Originally, the time was slated for 2:00 pm next Sunday, March 27, but due to a conflicting event, the time and date for the excursion is being moved to April.  Please stay tuned for more details. 

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