The Keeper’s Gate
– “A mystical portal to the Enchanted Park. As you step through the gateway, say goodbye to the world you are familiar with and be prepared to discover the secrets and mysteries hidden behind Saltwell’s winding paths”.
In winter 2013 we set to work on designing and video mapping a large entrance arch for the Enchanted Parks winter festival. Our purpose was to introduce the story of the Keeper of Saltwell’s Secret to an audience of over 20,000.
“That wonder and awe you feel when you are a child, the excitement that only comes from knowing magic is in the air, and that joy that comes when you share what you’re seeing and feeling with a loved one. For a whole hour i was enchanted, i journeyed somewhere i have never been before, miles away from what we see now as normal back to a time when magic was only a breath away. By the end i wanted to never leave…Thank you for all the people involved with enchanted parks, I don’t know any of you but the event you have put together took me to a place i only knew from my imagination ” –
Blog post from an audience member.
“As dusk begins to settle over the fields and the formal gardens, the clamorous playgrounds and the peaceful groves, the last lingering visitors are ushered towards the exits and bid a pleasant evening by the familiar figure of the Park Keeper. Alone inside the gates, the Keeper savours his nightly stroll back to his picture-perfect cottage in the park. Already he can feel the atmosphere begin to change. He is not just the Park Keeper; he is the Keeper of Saltwell’s Secret, a secret that has been held safe and passed down through generations of Keepers. Saltwell is an enchanted place, ordinary by day, but extraordinary at night when strange flowers bloom and glow, fantastical creatures emerge from their hiding places, unearthly sounds float on the wind and crackle through the undergrowth, woodland pathways lead to other worlds, the air is scented, water turns to fire, the plants whisper secrets and the trees sing songs. Soon, though, this long-held secret will be revealed. The Secret Keeper is about to retire and it is time for him to pass on the keys to this, The People’s Park. He has no son or daughter to take over in his place so instead he has decided to throw open the gates and invite the world to see the park in its enchanted state. But be alert – he is watching, searching for a new generation of Secret Keepers. Those he picks will always be able to see the magic behind the everyday.Will he choose you?”
Enchanted Parks has taken place since December 2006. It’s an innovative after-dark arts adventure, which sees Gateshead’s Saltwell Park transformed through visual arts, performance, installation and interactive works.
Supported by Gateshead Council and funded by Arts Council England.