Once upon a Time
Once upon a time is a tale of 2 foxes, a mother and her young, and an andalusian rooster. The mother fox dives across the unbalanced rocking chair trying to hold on to her young and save him from flying over the edge. At the top of the chair, the rooster has lost its footing and has opened its wings in an attempt to save himself.
I am utilising the rocking chair to heighten the sense of movement within the piece but I am also using it as a metaphor for life. Life is about balance and stability. Our lives are constantly changing and some things that happen are out of our control. We try to choose the right path but we can often be swayed in other directions. Obstacles arise that we cannot overcome and so we are forced to change course. Life for the human race is about moving forward and for others this means moving backwards. We are constantly in need of our world to be a bigger and better place and so we continue to build further and further out in force. Unfortunately something has to suffer because of this. I am using the fox as an example of this suffering.
Although urban foxes have had a presence in Dublin for many years their numbers are definitely on the rise. Some say that development in the boom time encroached on their habitat; the redevelopment of waste land and farm land on the peripheries of Dublin for housing and retail parks perhaps displaced a certain number of foxes. But the fox being an adaptable creature seem to have adjusted to suit the urban habitat-taking up residency in derelict or quiet gardens, overgrown areas in parks, river banks and railway lines. With an adequate food source and habitat available, fox numbers in Dublin seem to be on the increase. Although this seems all good and well, the urban fox is starting to become a victim of its own success. Numbers have now reached a level that can’t sustain a healthy population. We are constantly seeing mange infected and emaciated urban foxes that seem to have lost all fear of humans. Foxes seem to have gained quite a bad name and are known to be cunning, dangerous animals. Fox owner, Mike Towler, thinks that foxes get a bad reputation because they are painted as villains in children’s stories. He says, “They have the nicest nature of any animal I have ever met, they are considerate, helpful – particularly towards young foxes.” Towler also points out that foxes provide a very useful function as they destroy the rats and mice you don’t want.
In the piece, “Once upon a time”, we see the mother fox trying to protect her young. The cub holds a Japanese umbrella. Each part of a Japanese umbrella has a name and a function. For instance, the Nokizume, are the parts of the ribs sticking out from the umbrella, these are often lacquered in red because of an ancient Japanese tradition. Indeed, at the beginning the very first umbrellas were only used by the Imperial family and aristocrats and they were said to be magical object that could protect one from evil spirits and bad events, from this belief came the red color that was said to help prevent bad things from happening.
A weather vane, wind vane, or weathercock is an instrument for showing the direction of the wind. They are typically used as an architectural ornament at the highest point of a building. Although partly functional, weather vanes are generally decorative, often featuring the traditional cockerel design with letters indicating the points of the compass. The word ‘vane’ comes from the Old English word fana meaning ‘flag’.
Pope Gregory I said that the cock (rooster) “was the most suitable emblem of Christianity”, being “the emblem of St Peter”. Some say that it was as a result of this that the cock began gradually to be used as a weather vane on church steeples, and some add that in the 9th century Pope Nicholas I ordered the figure to be placed on every church steeple. It is known that Pope Leo IV did have it placed on the Old St. Peter’s Basilica even before Nicholas I was Pope. Alternative theories about the origin of weathercocks on church steeples are that it was an emblem of the vigilance of the clergy calling the people to prayer, that it was derived from the Goths, is only possibly a Christian symbol and an emblem of the sun.
As it were, Pope Nicholas I did in fact decree in the 9th century that all churches must show the symbol of a cock on its dome or steeple, as a symbol of Jesus’ prophecy of Peter’s betrayal (Luke 22:34), that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed on the morning following the Last Supper.