In 2021, we decided that our town needed an alternative Christmas experience and our vision was a highly ambitious, immersive and interactive cardboard labyrinth. As luck would have it, The Old Parcel Office Artspace very kindly offered their venue for use with the project, which was a perfect blank canvas to fill in with our dreams. With hundreds from our local community building with us, we realised this dream together and it turned out to be even more successful than we initially envisioned. 



What can we do with an old parcel office building by the train tracks, a pile of cardboard and a world class papercraft designer? Make an immersive Christmas experience entirely built by our community of course! We live in a small seaside town on the North Yorkshire coastline that is going through some big changes thanks to the local creative community. Our love of this town (where Steve grew up) had us dreaming and scheming for some time about how we could bring people together to make something incredible in an area that historically has had limited resources for cultural development. The Old Parcels Office kindly provided the space, funding and support to make this happen. With help from ARCADE, (a creative initiative that specialises in such ventures) and funding generously provided by Yorkshire Coast Bid and Invisible Dust, we have made the dream come true in time for Christmas and we're excited to share it with you now.



This project was a brilliant demonstration of what's possible with just an empty room and some creativity. Grue was even more of a gargantuan success than we anticipated and thanks to everyone's participation, the project was featured in international press appearing in the Telegraph, BBC and local press.

"8.7% of our visitors came from outside of the region, representing considerable investment from their perspective, both in time and money. We know from speaking to a number of these visitors that the coverage on BBC Radio 4 Front Row, coupled with the images, is what inspired them to come. We believe Grue has hit a 'sweet spot' between commercial, Christmas event and high quality art installation. It appeals to families who might not usually look for culture, as well as those who would be keen on it." - Rach Drew, ARCADE




293 community members were involved in the build, including school children, college students, guides, local artists, looked after children, firefighters, Youth Justice participants, retired people and many others.

"My young YJS leader who you did a 1:1 with before the group session never felt like he had a role or acceptances in the community, he felt like society deemed him worthless. In the VIP showcase session that he attended with his family, he likened his interpretation of the project premises to his own journey. The young leader attended the group session with his dad and siblings as part of a bonding session, dad fed back how proud he was of what his son had achieved. This gave the young leader the belief that he could help organise and lead other community Wellbeing Sessions with other young people.

This activity went into his court report and the efforts of his work and the belief that was put into him from your project contributed to the young person been spared a custodial sentence because he had been able to demonstrate his commitment to himself, family and helping the wider community. " - Tim Machon, Impact Worker YJS

"What some people view as trash or waste can be turned into something beautiful or of value. This could apply to how we treat where we live, or how people see me; who I might have been and who I want to be, and who I have become." - Youth Justice Participant



We would not have been able to pull this ambitious project together without the super incredible team at ARCADE. Rach, Sophie, Shan, Jim and Jen were with us every step of the way, putting long days and nights into the installation, networking, securing materials and pulling creatives together under tight deadlines. We'd also like to thank Nick Fall from Ideosound and Edward Wilson-Stephens for their expert sound design. Along with Fletch and Jim, they gathered samples, created compositions and sound collage to bring the auditory experience together and we couldn't be more pleased with the results. We'd also like to thank Paul James and Charlotte Graham for the amazing photos you see here.



When you experience our incredible community-built Winter wonderland, you'll encounter themed areas made from waste materials including: woodland, undersea, the Moon Room and more. Follow Callisto through a family-friendly alternative Christmas adventure and see how much she's grown from her humble desktop dimensions. We invite the family to explore our cardboard world and journey through forest, town, sea and sky. There's plenty to look at and discover, as well as a paper decoration to make at the end. Grue is a thrilling way to get people into recycling and reusing, especially with Christmas coming up. The festive season creates tons of packaging and waste. Through this project, we'll show people what is possible with their old boxes and some tape.



None of this would have been possible without the invaluable support from all the team at ARCADE, Yorkshire Coast Bid, Invisible Dust and our Kickstarter backers. The incredible energy and generosity from our cardboard providers and local makers proves that ANYTHING is possible if we create together and we are completely inspired by working with our community. Next year's event will be even more grand with a bit longer to plan. We're already dreaming and scheming for the follow-up event.



Designed by Steve, produced by ARCADE and built by people from our local community entirely from waste materials, we proudly present GRUE to you.

Follow Callisto the reindeer through our cardboard winter wonderland and enjoy the town, moon, sea and forest with a poem by ARCADE's Rach Drew to compliment the awesome clips put together by our friend Nick from Ideosound.


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