A book of ours

A Book of Ours, Projects

The first day of a new project brings many questions to the table. And this one was no different. We are making an illuminated manuscript with people at the Booth Centre, following on from our project The Homeless Library, which was the first history of British homelessness. It gave first hand accounts of peoples life journeys, often pivoting around homelessness, illustrated with poems and artworks and inscribed into handmade books.

 

 

This new project is the construction of an illuminated manuscript. It will gather together significant events, dates, people, celebrations and memorials  all in one book, giving a wide cross-section of hugely individual lives. Our hope is that by doing this we reassert the identity and the individuality of people who are sometimes dismissed, clumped together simply as homeless when they are so much more.

First job of the day was to re-acquaint ourselves with old friends. We worked at the booth centre for 10 years on and off, and some faces were very familiar. Laurence, with a twinkle, said, Everything gets put to one side for arthur+martha. Joan gave us both a hug. Danny ditto. As we sat down to work, Id the feeling that there was nowhere else to be sitting in the world that bettered this.

 

 

In todays workshop, we made a timeline of significant day and people wrote short 24-word descriptions of their chosen days. (There are, after all, 24 hours in a day.) We also did a little experimenting with calligraphy pens, with colours, with paper and with page layouts. Some powerful work was made, beautiful miniature narratives and playful page compositions. 

 

 

But some of the most important work was to ask questions. We are using mediaeval manuscripts as the basis for our book. These are the Books of Hours that celebrated the Christian calendar. So how do we adapt this template for our purposes? For instance, the medieval calendars were often written in black, red, blue and gold, with a particular meaning assigned to each colour. But what meanings did our group associate with these colours? Is red a colour of love, or a symbol of blood? Is black grief, or power, or…? And gold  is it the colour of money, or something less earthbound?

 

 

 

And as we talked, the shape of this book of ours slowly began to emerge…

With thanks to everyone at The Booth Centre for their warm welcome, the support of Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The Homeless Library: a homecoming

Projects

The Booth Centre and arthur+martha would like to invite you to the opening celebration of three projects, The Homeless Library, Sing me to Sleep and Mosaics made at The Booth.
Join us on the 8th May at 1pm at The Booth Centre Manchester, for a sharing of the artwork, refreshments, and readings. All are welcome.

a-perfect-vacuum

The project The Homeless Library is nearly at its official finish point, but in truth this feels like the beginning, not the end.


There are so many stories that Phil and I didn’t capture, so many strands of the history of homelessness that we only touched on. And like any history, it’s happening right now; since completing the interviews and poems for the project, new people have become homeless for new reasons, we have seen people find accommodation, take steps forward in their personal battles with alcohol, substance abuse, mental health issues, relationships, tragically we have also seen others not make it.


The Homeless Library has fed directly into our new project Armour, sharing the stories of the homeless people who’ve served in the armed forces. Threads from it are teased out in Phil’s Berlin-based project Heaven-Proof House, which asks refugees about the nature of home.

 

The Library has had a profound effect on us personally. In many ways it has been the hardest project we’ve ever done, because it was so emotionally intense and because we had so much to learn. The situation of some people we met was heartbreaking. But hope was also present in each day, each session – and humour and imagination, even delight. We were on a steep learning curve too: this was the first time we had attempted a formal “history”. In fact, our Library is the first-ever history of British homelessness thats ever been attempted. The voices of homeless people are finally being heard and accepted, as a valuable, fascinating part of all our stories.

?my life on the road

We have also been approached by other organisations, to share our experience. The Museum of Homelessness have liaised with us and are doing excellent work. Recently, Lois met Karl Hyde from Underworld whose Street Poem project for MIF will soon start. A few days ago we were asked if another organisation could pick up our idea and start a Homeless Library in London…


The Homeless Library will continue to grow and develop, sending its message to the world. We would like to thank the many, generous-hearted Homeless Librarians who contributed and who led the way.

My name is hello thank you and goodbye 

My name is many, legion

Woke up this morning not in my own bed

Half a bed it was I fell out of

Fell out across fields, over and out

Over and out to continue

Made my way here, my name is many

My name is hello thank you and goodbye.

Anon


To download your free ebook from The Homeless Library visit blurb.

For more information and links to films and artwork please visit /the-homeless-library/

And for more interviews and project diaries look on this site at arthur-and-martha.blogspot