An exhibition of writing by Sarah Butler, participants’ writing, stitching by Julie Mosley, participants’ stitching was displayed at Stockport Art Gallery from 20th February to 22nd March 2016.
Someone once told me that………
If you go along the arterial road
And then turn left along the vein of Hillgate
Up the aortic hill towards the market
You will come to an auricle
That was once used for prisoners
There you will find a secret chamber between the ventricles
You may find that the valves are rarely opened………
When they are, they have a tendency to
Make a strange sound.
Murmuring and hissing quite unnaturally.
By Maggie Walker
I spent an afternoon at Stockport Refugee Support Group on 25th July, finding out what people loved about Stockport.
I then worked with Jeanne Ratnaraj, who wrote this beautiful piece about Heaton Norris Park:
Birds sing while dogs bark in the Heaton Norris Pavillion. I get encouraged and energised when I reach there. I can smell the fried bacon and green mashed peas. Happy memories peep out of my mind while I hear the musical instruments being played. Heaton Norris Park is surrounded by natural plants. The environment is calm and red warm. Rough ground stands to hold the children’s play while slippery slides and swings fulfil their activities.
On 24th August, we had a great morning’s creative writing workshop with women at Arc. Below is a slideshow of poems comparing Stockport to everything from leather sofas to caged tigers!
On 30th July, Sarah worked with a group of young people from Signpost Stockport for Carers at St Mary’s Church. We went out and about in Stockport town centre collecting inspiration, and the young people wrote these fantastic stories:
We had a great workshop at Arc on 15th July, working with a talented bunch of participants, some of whom have work featured in Arc’s current exhibition, Place, Space and Memory.
Below is a slideshow of some of the writing created during the workshop, and below that, a couple of pieces I’ve typed up. Enjoy!
The air here is fresh and alive, the aniseed leaves smell sweet and spicy. The birds rock while the wind is blowing through the trees, blue sky peeps through the clouds. It is fresh and alive, geese are flying, the leaves blink like gold eyes, the grass reflects the sun in a happy haze, honking geese flap madly in peaceful safe surroundings, the singing sky is full of flight, the trees shield me, the water is flowing, the wind is too.
The ball bouncing towards the calm children playing with the dogs walking and the ducks quacking, flowers smelling on the green grass made ever greener by the grey rain, which may or may not help with serenity – better in aiding that are the trees which you can climb to find energy.
At a recent workshop at Stockport’s Hat Works, members of Stockport Writers explored the museum and collected text and observations, which the group then made into ‘found’ poems. Here are two great examples:
So big and barmy,
Everybody wore them.
Hats, hats, hats, hats, hats.
Red Indian head-dress and catwalk fashion,
Furry hats for weddings and Ladies Day,
Great leather, green feather,
Buttons and trim.
The Mad Hatter at the Hat Works
Felting sulphuric acid
by Elaine Peters
A hat for all reasons,
the power to serve and destroy.
who will you be today?
Silent shaped wood,
a worn wooden desk.
A matter of respectability,
to all and singular.
A hat full of stories,
power and status.
none have survived.
One room to live in,
wire mesh over a window.
Dressing up mirror,
by Lou Baxter
A great piece, written by Alice Umbarak from Stockport Writers, at a recent workshop at Stockport’s HatWorks. See if you can work out which buildings are speaking…
‘So, my shiny friend, have you finally settled down here in Stockport? I’ve been watching you, you know, from across the street.’
‘Oh, it’s you! Hi, neighbour from across the street. Yeah, I’ve settled in just great, mate!’
‘Great? I hardly think so, sir. It was a very long time before you had any tenants, and I see your ground floor is still vacant.’
‘You can talk, grandpa. They say you’ve had your share of empty spaces, too.’
‘I’ll have you know that I’m Grade Two Listed, and I’m proud to have been here for … my memory’s a bit hazy, there have been changes, but I’m sure there’s been activity on all my floors at all times!’
‘Can see your chimney stack, you know; what’s all that about? Hat museum, it says. What sort of useful activity is that?’
‘How dare you, sir! Of course I’m useful. I remind Stopfordians of their heritage, and explain to visitors just how important Stockport is!’
‘Was, you mean. I’ve heard tell that you made hats way back in the nineteenth century, yes, but when was the last time a hat was made in Stockport?’
‘And what about you? What use are you, with all those shiny windows? You’re hardly a tourist attraction, as I am!’
‘I’m very important to Stockport, I’ll have you know. I house Sky, and what would Stopfordians do without their TV and broadband?’
‘Passing fads, that’s all those are!’
‘And your fad is way past, mate! Nobody wears hats these days but everybody has a smart phone!’
‘So you think you represent Stockport, then, do you? All right, what can you see from where you are? Can you see the bridge?’
‘Exactly! You don’t know anything about the town’s glorious past! That bridge is iconic, a feat of engineering, and made of bricks, just like me! Tell me, what are YOU made of? Cement, I expect. Although I must admit you’re not quite as ugly as that monstrosity down the road, just the other side of the river.’
‘Well, guess I’m a feat of modern engineering, and just what Stockport needs. Twenty-first century construction, revitalising the town centre ….’
‘Revitalising? You mean, putting life back into an urban environment? Aha! Got you there, my fine modern friend! I’m the one with life. At night, all your lights are off; after nine o’clock, you’re lifeless, aren’t you?’
‘Well, yes, guess that’s right. And it’s true, not many people pass this way. Kind of lonely at night.’
‘Now here’s something you don’t know about me! I house people; people stay here. Yes! On all my upper floors there are flats. How about that? I’m the vibrant one, and truly the heart of Stockport!
A new exhibition launches at Arc’s gallery on Saturday 25th July, 12-4pm, showcasing images and creative writing inspired by Stockport by participants on Arc’s Challenge Programme. It’s free and there will be lots of activities, from giant magnetic poetry to the chance to make your own self-portrait
More details in the flyer below, and below that, a sneak preview of some of the writing…
They call it ‘Stockport.’ They pronounce it ST–O–K- port with the emphasis on the “O”. Not as in “ow” or “oh” but a flat, low “O”. Very strange. From below, it is difficult to pinpoint its precise location due to the cloud-cover which is constantly moving.
Central Stockport, made up of steps and hills, is my Olympic diving board to a far away land. But, like an aged Aunt that I should visit more often, she sets out her board game of snakes and ladders.
The players, their tops sparkling with anticipation like bottle tops waiting to be opened, negotiate the boxed buildings piled high. The spine of this oversized town is its thoracic ribbed arches standing tall and proud in their timeless grandeur, as if escorting soldiers down the main Wellington Road.
Stockport is just down the A6 from Manchester, nestling snugly between the Pennines, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Cheshire. One almost senses that as a town it cannot decide where it belongs, or indeed if it does.
Stockport promotes its independence by being aware of its boundaries. Grown from where rivers meet roads, there is pride in the place of which we like to complain.
Stockport sits and is welded tight shut to the south of Manchester. It is padlocked to the earth’s core by darkness and its fire. A nosey snake-like motorway curls around it, as if for protection of its prettier lands.
Linda has come to not one, not two, but three of the Unpicked:Restitched writing workshops! Here are two of the poems she created, the first from the workshop with Write out Loud at the Art Gallery; the second from the workshop at Central Library.
Rage on the River Bank
Birds and blossom colour the mood –
black loathing to red cheer.
The crunch of dried faeces.
The fracture of old gravel.
Sunshine laughs on green delight.
Water traffic: a shopping trolley;
a plastic bag; a family of ducks.
Where the Children Go
Inspired by Alexandra Park Primary
I’m weary, worn, grubby.
One day I’ll be razed.
Where will the children go?
So many children: running, laughing,
screaming, crying, fighting, swearing,
hating, loving, hoping.
Marking my bricks: my old bricks; my dull bricks;
my dark bricks. So many feet; so many faces.
Faces change. To them I’m new, I’m strange,
I’m familiar, I’m past. Now, they pass me
on the way to other lives. I stink of sweat,
of puke, of fun, of joy, of fear. Of lunch.
I’m empty. I’m full. I’m old – neglected,
touched-up, experienced. I’m hated. I’m loved.
I’m fondly recalled. I’m where the children go.