Thursday, 8 October 2015

Hope 1980

Boxbook, Lois Blackburn and The Wellspring, collaboration for the project 'The Homeless Library.'

19 people from The Wellspring Stockport, contributed to our most recent artist book for the project 'The Homeless Library'. We asked 4 seemingly straightforward questions, questions that allowed lots of space for interpretation.

1. Where and when were you born?
2. Something you have been given?
3. Something that has been taken away from you?
4. A wish or plan for the future?

The Homeless Library is about creating a history of homelessness- so each answer then had a date added and was then added to a timeline strung along the walls of the Wellspring.  Our sessions at the Wellspring are drop-ins- there is no set group, this means we aim to find new ways to encourage people to join in, to create a safe space to do creative work. The method of literally spreading out the answers around the room, enabled people to observe at a distance at first, encouraged curiosity and a talking point. As there was no reference to the question on most of the answers it meant an answer could be read in different ways- Many were about deaths and births, families and words of wisdom. Some of the most moving were single words; 'FREEDOM 1978, some obscure 'DOG 1982', some hopeful, 'taken (but not forever) LIFE 2004  and then wishes for the future: "To get off drugs by at least 2016' and 'have my own home instead of my tent 2016'.

Over the years during various arthur+martha projects we have discovered that some of the shortest and seemingly simplest questions can start of the most revealing answers- What constantly surprises me is how quickly people can answer them- (I can have a habit of over thinking...) The trick seems to be to allow space and a bit of ambiguity, space in the interpretation of the question and space to answer with one word if you choose or a whole hour if needed. 

I'll leave today with the single word written on one page, we cant know if it was something given or something taken away...  'Hope 1980'.

The Homeless Library project is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

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