22.11.2013 045 thumbnail Punchdrunk Enrichment's Story Balloonists travel the world in their hot air balloon, looking for the most imaginative places on earth, in their ongoing quest to find the Greatest Story Ever Told. The balloonists visited St Mary's Hospital, in the hope of finding incredible stories from the patients attending St Mary's Hospital School.

The project began with the arrival of an unusually large balloon in the school, as well as a number of other balloons out on the wards, which was a big mystery to staff and pupils. Attached to the large balloon pupils discovered a package, with a story and a questionnaire from the balloonists inside. There was a request within the package that the questions be answered in the most imaginative way in order to tempt the Story Balloonists’ to visit our schoolroom. Students work was sent back and as you can see from the pictures our pupils went to great effort to produce beautiful pieces of work, which did indeed prompt the Story Balloonists’ to visit.

Whilst researching the Story Balloonists the pupils discovered a video message, explaining the arrival of the Balloonists to St Mary’s Hospital School.

Over the course of a weekend, while the school was closed, Punchdrunk Enrichment secretly built the balloonists' gondola inside the schoolroom. They completely transformed the room into another world for the pupils to explore.

On Monday the pupils were invited to enter this new world, where they were told stories by the balloonists' Marianne Montgolfier. Marianne had with her a range of amazing objects and artifacts collected on her travels. These were used to inspire and ignite the pupil’s imaginations, sharing and writing their own stories.

Marianne opened up this project not only to attending pupils of the Hospital Schoolroom, but also to children in isolation and on the wards. Through visits to the ward and video conferencing, many other pupils had this unique opportunity to participate and share their imaginative and creative ideas.

On Marianne’s last visit, stories, pictures and ideas were collected and packaged up, then attached to a new balloon and released outside St Mary’s Hospital. The aim being that these ideas and stories will travel further afield and inspire new stories.

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