Four Acre, St Helens (2011)

‘We’re turning the remembering into reality – into art.’

Ray
  • dirty-knees

‘I’m learning a lot from everybody – the sessions are making me grow.’

Jeanette

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.

‘It’s been something of interest to us all. If there wasn’t, the group would just frizzle away.’

George
  • naughty-boy

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.

Participants: 95

Ages 65-100

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

More Information

Blogs, interviews, images, poems, evaluations arthur-and-martha.blogspot.co.uk

On-line portfolio flickr.com

a-slap
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

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