Playing with medieval things: Studio Weave’s Paleys upon Pilers

In a series of posts, the organisers of ‘Playing with Medieval Visions, Sounds, Sensations’ explore some of the pieces of work, modern and medieval, that have inspired these workshops.

The Paleys upon Pilers [image via Studio Weave]
The City of London is full of architectural juxtapositions: the Roman London Wall is barely-there in the shadow of the brutalist Barbican towers; churches with spindles for spires shrink among the colossal ploughman’s lunch (the  Gherkin, the Cheesegrater… we wait for the Apple); the bulbous Walkie Talkie turns the Tower of London, previously London’s tallest building, into a toy.

Another such structure that jostles for a view between glass and steel megaliths is, at once, medieval and modern. Studio Weave’s Paleys Upon Pilers stands – well, floats – in the middle of a roundabout at Aldgate. Its precarious stilts hoist it above buses, its woven internal rooms are just too far away to explore.

Studio Weave explain their inspiration from Chaucer’s texts on their website:

From 1374 to 1386 Chaucer lived in Aldgate, above the confluencing bustle of the City. During this time, he wrote The House of Fame and The Parliament of Fowls.  Both of these dream poems include images of a fantastic dream-like temples elevated over large, strange landscapes. It is possible to see the correlation between these places and Chaucer’s own home in Aldgate…

…In the House of Fame, there are two edifices, a temple of glass filled with golden decorative images and niches, and a sumptuous palace on a mountain of ice that sits at the confluence of all words – as in Aldgate, Chaucer sat at the confluence of paths in and out of the east of the City of London. In the valley below, there is a 60-mile wide spinning wicker house of gossip, also perhaps an analogy for the City.
Via Studio Weave

Studio Weave’s Paleys of Pilers brings together images from two poems, the House of Fame and the Parliament of Fowls, and from Chaucer’s life. I love the idea that the Paleys is both of this world – a hide-away from the city for anyone with the means to to clamber or fly up into its nest-like space – and of some place else, between the earth and the sky. Its little legs could be landing gear, it may be about to take off back to a higher place.

To make this Paleys, Studio Weave blended poetry, historical fact, fantasy, and the modern experience of hectic London, making a structure that is at once very here and now, and of somewhere else, some time ago.

During our Playing with medieval visions workshops, we’ll be asking: what parts of our lives do we bring into translations? What correlations do you see between your places and the places, sounds, sensations, of medieval poems? Where do new creations made from medieval things belong?

Join our ‘Playing with Medieval Visions, Sounds, Sensations’ workshops, and translate Chaucer’s ‘House of Fame’ or the Old English ‘Dream of the Rood’ into new texts, images, and whatever other multimedia trickery we can squeeze into one room! Book your place now on eventbrite.


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