Monday, 12 September 2016

I've never been on a plane before.

The National Gallery of Art, Vilnius

The Sing me to Sleep exhibition opened at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania, last Friday,  with a group of people who contributed to the project from Vilnius and Manchester meeting for the first time. 

Brian, Barry, Rytis, Peter, Amanda, Phil and Janine with the Sing me to Sleep quilt. Photo courtesy of Janine Obermaier

There is a real sense of pride and value in the work produced and the opportunity to come together with people from different countries, different cultures and backgrounds. So much to talk about, the time in Lithuania was much more than the exhibition.  I'd like to start with the contributors to the project from The Booth Centre,  in their own voices talking about our time together in Vilnius, Lithuania.   Whether we put our heads down to sleep in a house, hostel or cardboard, we all have a voice.

Phil B with the Sing me to Sleep quilt. Photo courtesy of Janine Obermaier

Phil B

Couldn’t have been any better. A slam dunk.  Its all been totally different than anything else. Even when I went into the water (a swim in the lake) and I swallowed, it was decent. 

I haven’t done them before (poems) I’ll turn my hands to a lot of things, but me letters- some I can’t spell. Thing with stitching, I can’t thread the needle, and me right hand being numb, I have to use my left- I stab me self more often than not.  It takes your mind off lots of things when you’re out in the streets. I enjoyed meself, I’m going to start doing more things at the Booth Now.

Sing me to sleep/ Padamuok Man Labanakt, at the National Gallery of Art, Lithuania


When I saw the quilt, (hung in the exhibition) I felt very, very emotional- so proud of what everyone had put into it- their heart and soul.  To see it being built up bit by bit every week, then to see it in the exhibition, with people from Lithuania coming up and taking photos and thinking we did that. Then seeing the Booth Centre name on the poster all over town, and our names up there, it was a proud day. Seeing the other artworks to- but the quilt was brilliant. 

I enjoyed the music with the sticks to, I didn’t get it at first, but then when more people joined in and I heard the rhythm I got into it. The power of music. By the end of the exhibition and our day out, bonds had been made across to countries, friendships made and Facebook details exchanged.  

Brian and David, making music from sticks.


It’s been an amazing project. On an immediate level to take people we work with away, it's giving opportunities to people who might not have been given choices or opportunities. My family was always so positive and supportive, but lots of people don’t have this in their lives, to have someone that says yes you can do it- get as far on that journey as you can. And that is what we have done with this project. Brian said to me on the way out ‘I’ve never been on a plane before.’ What a brilliant thing to be sat with him, on his first flight. He said to me, ‘a year ago I was sleeping on the streets,’ and now he has done this. On a deeper level, being able to connect to people from Lithuania. There are not a lot of groups of people you could meet that would be so open and accept you, make music and sing songs, not often would you be in that circumstance.

A public exhibition like this opens up a space for people to talk about homelessness, for the media to talk about it and people. It’s very important.

On a personal level, I’m on an incredible journey, so blessed, so lucky to do it, I appreciate every moment. Who gets to go on a plane with someone whose recovered for 6 months. Every moment has been great to be in and enjoy.

The quilt I love it, and what it means, seeing everyone’s work, you can see their voices in it, it’s weighty with movement. It’s also meant so much to me to see everyone’s names up there, (on the entrance information panel) I stood for ages looking at their names. Sad to, some people will never understand or hear that their work is here and their names up here, it’s the nature of the work.
Detail of the Information Board, National Gallery of Art, Vilnius.

Peter T

I enjoyed meeting the other group and going out to the country and doing what they’re doing- going to the lake and into the sauna and also the exhibition.  I liked the lightboxes, you couldn’t see anything till you put the light on- and the dusty windows, great and the quilt was fantastic.

I’ve never been in a gallery like that before, think I’d go to somewhere like Take Modern in Liverpool now.  You’ve got to expand your brain. Even sat here now (looking at people at the airport) there’s a picture, but you have to capture it. It takes a lot of thought, how do you know till you try. You have hands use them, ears use them, voice, feet, use them. Always look up. 

Peter T and Lois, at the opening of the exhibition
Barry L
Holiday Journal to Lithuania (exert)

At 6pm we went to the Gallery of Art for the arts and craft expo which once again was very well organised, impressive and went down exceptionally well.  I think that Phil and Lois from arthur+martha organised and put together an exceptional and very informative display and deserve a huge thank you and big congratulation for a job exceptionally well planned, thought out and presented, exhibition of arts and craft and poetry. 

Part of the audience for the exhibition opening event.

….We are now all on the plane on the way home and the trip has come to an end. I can honestly say it may be the end of this journal, but not the end of the story. In closing I would just like to say that it has not been a trip to forget, as for me it has been both enlightening and educational. As well as the fact that  some lasting bonds have been forged between the people and agencies both in Lithuania and Manchester. 

Some of the group of contributors to the project from Manchester and Vilinus

No comments: