Lullaby

Today.  eight months later. Maggie and I displayed my community art project called Lullaby.

Getting a space at Hackney Central Library was not easy as the powers who flout that power seem to have changed the word ‘community’ to ‘in-house’ with a programme of set events and habitual Hackney sponsored outfits such that others haven’t a chance especially when the management takes their time to reply to requests. I have displayed community projects many times at the venue but am surely not one of the favoured few. Bovvered? This morning Maggie and I were not greeted let alone noticed so we just got on with it.lull arthus

Lullaby is a project which lent on the memories of seventy year olds and better who subscribe to Up Your Street. The response was poor and the best ones were verbal rather than by email with the very best response being a full hand-written account of the place of lullabies in a working class background.

I wanted to know which lullabies the seniors’ mothers/parents sang to their siblings and which they sang to the generations below them. Their answers inspired me to create collages, acrylic paintings, textiles at RAGWORKS and doilies. I was led into internet sites to discover more and to re-inforce to myself that I was wanting authentic tales.

Many memories are buried deep under shopping lists and painful stuff, images off telly and are left in unvisited corners.

“Rock A Bye Baby” was the most known lullaby and I had to probe to find out if people really sang the verse to babies or were just invading a memory bank. Betty Clayden wrote down the relevant words from Hiawatha’s Song. From that point I remembered songs I borrowed from Inuit and First Nation’s People music. I searched the internet too to find the real words rather than the ones I offered at bedtime.

Cuca emerged representing the common lullaby in South America and as I was painting so the civil unrest exploded in Venezuala and I was in touch with exiles from the torn country.2017-08-26 21.22.01

The yellow doillies are a homage to Hiawatha and his Song with its beautiful words  and imagery. Real feathers adorn the rounds encompassing European and Japanese music scores and titles.

The RAGWORKS “Shoal” represents in recycled textiles the little fishes on the little dishes in “When The Boat Comes In” a song softly sung to babies and used as a theme tune on a TV series, “The Likely Lads”. Thanks to Margaret Houlihan for loaning that to the exhibition.Fishes on Dishes RAGWORKS

Special words related to lullabies and mothers spring up such as “hush” and “cuddle”, “comfort” and “slumber”.

There is a set of four canvases representing the lullaby morphed from the popular folk song all about a young woman bemoaning her married life.  Of course the song is more likely the prayer of a child-bride The theory is that many mothers sang lullabies as a form of catharsis and confession in order to release their feelings about an unwanted domestic life.lulla mug

The Butterflies collage is a reference to The Lullaby Project in the Orkneys which highlighted the butterflies as the  dead souls of buried children in unmarked graves in Ireland.

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No. 23 of 27 Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

  On The Bridges

 

Save a thought for the married woman

Who has trouble defining a cuddle

Who straightens her back to haul water

In cogs

To men at their higher tables

Then eats alone in her kitchen

 

Strength to the wedded child bride

Who lost her place on earth

Through a rung out and brain washed

Female-hood

Genitally mutilated

Before her breasts became bargains

 

Force be with the mother millions

Who have trouble remembering joy

And fearlessly sneak grain

From man guarded sacks

For what child hangs on their frame

 

Rise up the other hemisphere women!

Assemble on your bridges

Adorn your skin with tattoos and piercings

Swap polyester pinafores for First Nations weaves.

 

Let fly the purple and green pamphlets

Over mosque domes and church spires

Megaphone your messages into havens

For the mother-deprived, sprawled and urban

 

Keep up the momentum

Bus in the hijabs and the full-stretched cleavage

The jeggings, the burqas, the suburban sisters

Refresh the statistics and the real situation

On the bridges for every nation.

*************************IWD

No 21. Poems for International Women’s Day 2015

Mission Impossible.

The rain chased down gulleys

Unable to stay in the claggy  verges.

By now  the work men had left for home

The last echoes of their hammer bangs

Took flight across the Hofn hills.

It was a poor day.

Over at Belle View Ginny  in her renovated barn

was sitting cross-legged

up by the timber ladder

with the circular First Nations rug over her feet

sifting through dust for past achievements

to make a case for celebration

as March 8th approached

 

A smiling Maya Angelou matronly sat

at the bottom of Ginny’s  Victorian chest.

There were some rusted Women’s badges.

on top of old Spare Rib magazines.

What she found had to be relevant

for wives in houses and daughters

whose men were down at the fishing,

who still spoke of men’s work and

ordered only bath salts from the Avon catalogues.

None needed childcare, nor an equal wage.

Ginny thought maybe they had dreams

and when they prayed for the boat’s safe return

perhaps they had hopes for their bairns’ lives

hopes they’d never voice.

 

The postman’s van crunched on the gravel.

He threw something down on the welcome mat

and shouted up

From  London.

In a minute Ginny could count out the purple and green flags

and try a bunting kit.

She let down the chest lid.

It wasn’t her petticoat showing that made her blush

and exhale Charlie’s Dead

It was her more than a puckle

of arrogance.