Bedford Central Library wasn't on the original list of venues, but once they saw the exhibitions at Luton and Flitwick libraries they invited us to exhibit there, too. This was really exciting because I've been visiting Bedford Library since we first moved here when I was six years old. When I go up to the second floor balcony I can still remember the smell of coffee that wafted around there when it was the coffee bar! By a strange coincidence the library was opened a few days before I was born, so we almost share a birthday (this seemed more relevant when I was six than it does today, though!)
The library is just down the road from all of the places that feature in my pieces, so it couldn't be much more local. Here are a couple of photos for you.
I helped out on the first day of the exhibition, and as it was the 9 to 11am slot on a Thursday morning, the visitors were mainly retired people. Many were fascinated and really enthusiastic about work on display, with many of the pieces bringing back memories from long ago. Some pieces are based on buildings that have been demolished (e.g. my Picturedrome Cinema and Emma Johnstone's Cardingtom Mill) so I was heard the comment "I remember that! Actually, DO I remember that? Where was it?" a few times!
I had a long chat to an older guy who I think just needed to have a chat with someone about how he was getting older, didn't see his friends as much and could no longer do some of the things he used to enjoy. He wasn't feeling sorry for himself, I think he just wanted to talk. I hope that, when I'm that age, someone has the time to listen to me.
In those two hours I learned first-hand how art can make a connection with people. Until then I'd tended to believe the stereotype that art is elite, expensive, hard to understand and if I'm honest a bit pretentious. This was the complete opposite of that...personal, emotional, tactile, real.
So the official Weaving Narratives exhibitions are over but there is one more unofficial one left to go. Anne-Marie Stijelja curates the art gallery at Bedford Hospital and has asked the contributors if we'd like to exhibit our work there from the end of March until June. Over half of us (maybe even most of us?) said 'yes' so look out for our work if you're passing by the door of the Swannery Restaurant from March - June 2017.
And...I'm making a new piece of work for a completely new exhibition this summer, so look out for a post on that soon!
Update, May 2017 - here's a photo of the exhibition at Bedford Hospital: