We were commissioned by St Helens MBC to engage hard-to-reach older people in the arts, in an economically deprived area. Project included: Poetry, writing and art workshops at the local Bingo, the Chiropody clinic, Tescos, the local library, a day centre and intergenerational workshops with the Primary School.
Some powerfully moving encounters brought forth beautiful, fragile, funny work from a community that has been isolated and beleaguered.
Memories became drawings and poems, which have in turn became saucy postcards, cakestands, tea cosies, embroidered bunting, napkins, tablecloths and ceramics. In editing the work, we tried to walk a line between the playfulness of childhood reminiscence and the narrowing poverty that people described.
The work was celebrated by the local community during a garden party, and has been left with the community as a lasting legacy.
As a culmination of the project, we created a large-scale poem installation in St Helens town centre, written in icing sugar. The poem was one single line that stretched along the bottom of the entire shop front of an abandoned Woolworth’s store. It was a work of collective reminiscence, verbatim from the older residents – literally the voice of the community, celebrating their past and also subtly reflecting on the transience of all things.
Gender 35 men, 60 women
Awards The Bloom Awards, for excellence in improving quality of life, dignity and well-being of older people
Exhibitions 2011 Art installation on the front of Woolworth’s store. Audience 3000
Blogs, interviews, images, poems, evaluations arthur-and-martha.blogspot.co.uk
On-line portfolio flickr.com
Alive in Albion Flicking icicles off the window Kelly lamp in the toilet a brick from the oven wrap it in sheets a nice clean brick, mind you, in bed, in freezing peasoupers mist a metre above the ground overtime as a fog man, get a bad chest Liberty bodice, socks by the hearth if we had visitors there was a scuffle to get the blanket up to your nose scarf of smog, eyes thick with soot like Mary Quant did in Bolton the cotton workers cough trolley bus derails canal paths and pets are frozen to school over the fields, corned beef legs depth of winter on the coal tips take a bucket and pick it put peelings on to preserve the flames mum baking on the bungalow range anyone with a bit of gumption will never starve in Albion. Group poem Marion, George, Brenda, Mary, Ray, Jan, Eddie, Norma, June, Joan