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  • Writer's pictureKaren Ruffles

A Hoot with a heart.

This year has proved to be an especially interesting one as I've been deliberately making changes to the business so I have more time for my own work. As a result, creatures new and old are making their way out of the dark to join us, including this dear old soul.

In case you've not met him before, this is Hooty Thing - a scarecrow figure I first came across when I lived in Selby. Laid in bed one night with the windows open, I heard the most mournful cry come drifting across the fields. It brought with it a vision of a stately old thing emerging from his summer hibernation to walk the frozen common.

I built the scarecrow that year and wrote a story about how when he woke up, he felt a movement in his chest and discovered a mouse nest ( which he carefully removed and tucked safely away before proceeding). When I took Hoot down to move house, I discovered a bird had built her nest in his chest. After a suitably thoughtful pause - it's not often my work comes to life in such a literal fashion - I wrapped it in a piece of his jacket and it's been with us ever since. Each time the old man is rebuilt his heart goes back in place.

Hooty Thing is hopefully going to be joining us again soon. In the meantime his heart, the sketch and a segment from the story were part of the Winter Ghosts exhibition as part of the Folk Horror Revival here in Whitby. Hosted by Rusty Shears and curated by Decadent Drawing, it was part of a festival bringing storytelling, history, music, art, film and theatre together to send shivers down the spines of all present :) If such things delight you too, the group can be found on Facebook.

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