Four Acre, St Helens (2011)

dirty-knees

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

‘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

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