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.
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.
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.
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.
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.