Monday, 15 February 2016

The wild, wild wood

Colin, Paddy and Stephen, designing for Sing me to Sleep.

It's always a test of nerves beginning a new project. We inevitably go in with ideas that change, in order to accommodate the reality we encounter. Today's session at The Booth Centre for Sing Me to Sleep was a case in point. We are in the process of remaking fairytales with homeless people. These reshaped tales will then be stitched into a quilt, which has a design that subtly echoes a forest.

We worked on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, whose escape from the wolf was cunningly imagined using lottery tickets, matches, diplomacy and the threat of a visit to the Wolf Dentist. The artworks had the swirl and power of trees in a magic wood.

So far so good. Then at the end of the session, a black hole suddenly opened. The group had gone very quiet and we assumed they weren't happy with the quilt designs. We quizzed people anxiously. Still the quietness remained. "What're you thinking?" Lois asked Paddy. He looked her dead in the eye. "I'm sleeping out tonight and it's going to be cold. I'm thinking about that." It was a moment that might be described as an immense reality check. "Looks cold to me tonight and I'm out in it. No flat, no nothing. Too many promises but nothing works out."

As we ended, I asked Paddy if he was OK, if he'd got something from the workshop. The whole point of these sessions is to leave people feeling better, not worse. He nodded to me reassuringly: "Its a break for me. I like these. Keeps me out of trouble and keeps me off the brandy." Then he leaned close to me. He nodded out of the window at the streets of Manchester. He said: "You want to see wild woods? The woods out there are wild."

'Go towards the sun' Paddy Reilly

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