The Verbal Arts Centre teamed up with Art Take Part to celebrate ‘the Big Draw’ during the Halloween celebrations this year. Halloween means MONSTERS and we invited…
We had the wonderful story “On the Black Hill” by Bruce Chatwin – a story of two older brothers who managed a farm which evoked a great conversation about the smell of mothballs, about beautiful patchwork quilts (if you were lucky) whilst others remembered “quilts with arms!” often referred to nap coats on top of the bed in winter to keep in the heat. A member spoke about taking the flat iron from the range and heating the bed by ironing it. I left the session thinking how resourceful people were when they had less money. A stone water bottle was produced and we passed it around and commented on how heavy it was. Some of the group remembered visiting farms belonging to aunts and uncles and had lovely memories of this. Whilst another member noted a family in Violet Street who kept cows in Irish Street before the houses were built and milked them daily. The furniture mentioned in the piece reminded a member of how his father managed a shop and all the beautiful pieces they used to sell. This led to another member telling the group of his time at sea. We determined that the two brothers did not marry because then the farm would have had to be left to just one of them. As they were twins this wouldn’t do. The story was opened for the members to read aloud and we were treated to some lovely reading. The session ended a memorable rendition of “The Lake Isle of Innishfree” by one of the members .
In conversation afterwards with Mary who is a nurse at Foyleville, she noted how “empowering the Reading Rooms are for the members in that they take ownership of the conversation and where it will take us in the session. We are introduced to amazing stories – the materials are great. The Reading Rooms promote confidence and raises self-esteem. Today we had one member who doesn’t respond as much treat us to a whole conversation on his life, his work and about his family and his love of an antique car. That is significant in how we all get to see that person in a new light. We get to know more about them.”
It is clear that the group are really enjoying the engagement of the Reading Rooms – as one lady put it “We could listen to Frank all day”.