Today, Friday 6th May 2022 sees the release of a very special film, ‘The complete history of Jersey (in just under 10 minutes)’ in celebration of this year’s Liberation Day.
The film, which will be released online via ArtHouse Jersey’s website, has been produced by ArtHouse in collaboration with John Henry Falle AKA The Story Beast with the support of the Government of Jersey as part of the Island Identity Project.
The poem was originally commissioned as a live performance piece by ArtHouse Jersey in 2019 to help celebrate the organisation’s move to Greve de Lecq Barracks. Now, having been transformed into film format, the production illustrates the poem’s content with stunning scenery from across the array of the Island’s landscapes, from bays, to rock formations, varines to dolmens. It is ArtHouse Jersey’s hope that this insightful and amusing piece will be enjoyed by thousands of people online in Jersey and further afield over the upcoming Liberation weekend and beyond.
Leaving no stone unturned, John Henry Falle’s rhythmic delivery takes us through Jersey’s ages, kicking off with the Island’s 600 year-old shale formation, through the basics of local geology, then onto the Ice Age, the Middle Stone Age and the sudden appearance of Jersey’s many dolmens. We hear how the Romans arrived before crashing into the ‘Common era’. We ‘sail past William Longsword who stole us off Brittany’ and are taken through the various battles that would ensue throughout the centuries and that would inevitably go on to influence the Island Jersey is today.
Fast forwarding, The Story Beast plays on more contemporary topics, such as the finance industry, the aging population, equal marriages, Brexit, the pandemic, fishing rights, trans rights and, as our last census shows, how diverse a group of people we are today, made up of Kenyans, Nigerians, French, Romanians. Poles, Thais, Latvians, Lithuanians, Portuguese, South Asian, Caribbean and Chinese.
Director of ArtHouse Jersey, Tom Dingle, said: “We’re delighted to have been able to bring this stunning piece of writing to the screen, thanks to the support of the Government of Jersey. Our Island has a complex identity, one steeped in fascinating history, glorious successes and our fair share of controversy, too. John Henry’s mastery is plain to see in ‘The complete history of Jersey (in just under 10 minutes). He effortlessly weaves in and out of Jersey’s complex past, not shying away from contention, whilst simultaneously imparting a sense of wonder and pride about this small rock we all call home.
“As we approach Liberation Day, a time for reflecting and giving thanks for our Island and the liberties it offers us all today”.
Poet & performer John Henry Falle (pictured) said: “I’ve tried to look at Jersey’s History proportionally which is a really stupid way of doing things. As a result I spend a lot of time on the 200,000ish years of habitation of the caves at La Cotte and virtually no time at all on Financial Services or the Oyster Fisheries of the 19th Century.
“This is obviously a bad way of organising History but Art House Jersey had commissioned a poem no longer than ten minutes so what this forced me to do was “Zoom Out”. When you zoom out, our island’s story stops being about particular historical characters and starts being about geology, technologies, trades, faiths, landscapes and the movements of people.
“When even the past refuses to say still all you can really do is admire the scenery and appreciate that it’s constantly eroding beneath your feet. So, the work will never be done, it just stops and if the poem is successful I look forward to the next few years of being told how wrong I was.”