For several years I have been involved in a wonderful project, Bell View in Belford in rural North Northumberland, where local people came together to develop a resource centre and housing project for older people when the existing residential home was forced to close. Rebuilt on the site ( which was also originally the old workhouse) Bell View now runs numerous community and creative activities, day care and café in a light and beautifully designed building.
Always looking for innovative and creative opportunities, Bell View invited me to develop a writing project collaborating with sound artist Geoff Sample. After months of discussions and funding bids, we received Arts Council England grant and the ‘Where We Belong ‘ project started in November 2014. Since then we’ve been talking and running workshops with over thirty older people about their experiences of ageing, isolation, belonging in a rural area. You can get details and hear some wonderful voices on the project blog at http://www.fragmentsne70.wordpress.com. By the end of the project we will have produced an installation at the Watchtower Gallery in Berwick-upon-Tweed, including Geoff’s soundscape which will accompany the written words which I am collecting and editing and deciding …….how to exhibit those words in a gallery space?? So many themes and inspirations have emerged – acceptance of change, love of family and friends, delight in making and producing, and a youthful pleasure in being alive.