There's rain snaking down the windows and the wind is ice-flavoured. I'm in a cafe in Manchester, wishing my toes were warmer and less wet, but otherwise cheerful. It's the end of the year - arthur+martha will take a holiday interlude until our various projects start up in January. This blog is by way of a hello to the many people we've spent time with in 2011 - and with it comes the wish of warmth, emotional and actual.
It's been a bustle of a year - Lois and I started 2011 working with young carers in Warrington, a very sweet-hearted group, whose lives called on them to be adult beyond the capability of many grown-ups. Then we entered another and very different world, during our project with homeless people in Manchester and Bury. We invited homeless and vulnerable-housed people to customise tourist postcards of Manchester, showing an often unnoticed face of the city. This work was exhibited in the Bury Text Festival and on the BBC Big Screen in the city centre. Then in St Helens, working at Four Acre, we had the great pleasure of helping to start a creative group for older people, some of whom had become very isolated.
In all of these walks of life we met kindness, humour and insight although it sometimes had harsh surroundings. In fact, the remarkable grace that many people showed was both humbling and uplifting. I complain about wet feet, but am sitting in a comfortable room, within a comfortable life.
Despite their uncomfortable lives, participants often make pieces that are artistically ambitious, tough, fragile, funny and emotive. The fact that they may have been dismissed by society in general does not diminish their inherent talent. In fact the power of their work often derives from the outsider perspective that people bring and their determination to find a way to express it.
We would like to thank all who've made work and shared their humour, creativity, the day-to-day of their lives. We also wish to acknowledge the kind help of several individuals this year - Penny Anderson, Steve Giasson, Owen Hutchings, Joanne our poetical support in St Helens and Joan Birkett our artistical one, Gemma Cameron and finally Rebecca Guest, editor extraordinary.
Happy winterlude one and all.