Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Be well

We would like to wish winter warmth to the many people we have met this year, and also to those scattered far and wide across the world who read this blog. We are very aware that warmth and comfort are far distant luxuries to some and so this wish is particularly for those struggling in the storms of life.

A lot of people have said thank you to us after the art sessions we run, sometimes simply to be polite, sometimes in a very emotional way. Lois and myself would like to offer our thank you back, because your company and the insights you bring are very precious to us, perhaps more than you realise.

This year has had many high points (exhibitions, new projects, funding) but also some tough times, including bereavement. One of the things that keeps Lois and I going strong is the pleasure of being "arthur+martha", our other and possibly better selves.  The arts bring meaning to our lives; making work in collaboration with many communities has brought a sense of deeper value and human community that we would sorely miss.

All who have met with us, worked with us and shared a cup of tea and a joke, or simply some time: thanks. Be well.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Walking Backwards

The ends of my fingers hurt, it's too much stitching with thick rough wool, through thick heavy fabrics, so I’m pausing the embroidery to write. I’m in the Whaley Bridge Library today for the project Stitching the Wars. I’ve just had a long conversation with a library regular Graham, he’s an ex- postie, whose stories included the tale of his sponsored walking backwards from Lands End to John O Groats. 30 miles a day backwards, I would find 15 forwards difficult! It seemed much of the pleasure for Graham was in the people he encountered along the way. A delight I share in- this project like so many of arthur+martha’s give opportunities to meet such a range of people- hear their stories- and reflect them back to a wider audience.

 In the last year I’ve had the privilege to meet a Bevin Boy, a Lumber Jill, a number of Land Girls, countless farmers, an Air Gunner, railway men, lecturers, nurses, WAAFs and regular Joes whose ordinary life’s during and post World War 2 seem extraordinary now.

Stitching the Wars quilt, work in progress at Whaley Bridge Library.

The Stitching the Wars quilt exhibits many voices, shares many hands. Some people just want to talk, others will hand write snippets of reminiscence and poetry, others carefully stitch these memories onto fabric, others stitch memory to memory. Its slowly, slowly coming together. A little bit of discomfort in my fingers is a small price to pay… at least it wasn’t 30 miles backwards.

Thanks to everyone who gave their time today and to Jake and Jude for the very welcome cups of tea.