The collaborative exhibition, The Lightfoot Letters, which Maria Walker and I created together, is currently visiting Northwich, in a brand new town centre art gallery. Maria likes to use text in her work and we decided to collaborate so she could use my poems. Maria had already created some pieces inspired by some 1923 letters she had purchased in an antique shop, and I had already written poems about stories my father had told me about his childhood.
A few months in to our collaboration, we met up again to see some of her work in an exhibition. It was then we made the amazing discovery that the letters which had so impressed her had in fact been written by people in my family, including my dad. This lent our collaboration new wings and we both created further work. The suitcase installation was my idea and we made it together, and Maria also taught me how to collage and how make button bracelets. We bounce off each other really well and love working together.
The exhibition premiered at The Brindley in Runcorn in 2011, and will be showing at The Waterside, Sale, later in the year. It came as a wonderful surprise that Visual Arts Cheshire wanted it to be the very first exhibition in their new gallery, which unfortunately might not be staying open long, as the space is only on loan.
It is a wonderful space and the exhibition has created a buzz in the town, the like of which I have not seen for a long time. The opening night was packed with people who were interested in either aspect or both. There have been a lot of people with the surname Lightfoot (my maiden name) coming in to check out the family history aspect. Maria gave an artist talk, I read poems, and we are both doing workshops to pass on our skills. I was amazed to see John Hegley attending the opening – and he made some very supportive and enthusiastic comments, which I really appreciated. Poet Lindsey Holland came as well, which made me really happy.
On World Book Day/ International Women’s Day, there will be a poetry reading with me, Sean Body, Lindsey Holland and Gill McEvoy, starting at 5pm. This is a perfect chance to come and see the exhibition outside its usual opening time, and to listen to some contemporary poetry from carefully chosen guests.
One response to “The Lightfoot Letters in Northwich”
I looked in on the exhibition yesterday and was impressed all over again. It was a different experience than the premier at The Brindley in 2011; that was a terrific event and quite exciting. Seeing ‘The Lightfoot Letters’ here in Northwich, chatting with Michael Troy of VAC, was a relaxing yet still fascinating experience, more involving in a way. The Brunner Court gallery, shortly before noon, had a nice feel to it – airy, with natural light softly diffused at the front window.
I was amazed as before at the million-to-one chance that brought those old letters within your orbit. If Maria hadn’t chanced upon them in a junk shop and your paths hadn’t crossed… It must have been Fate, that you were given this opportunity of getting to know your grandmother Ada and other family figures as they were so long ago. I find your father’s story particularly poignant.
And what a collaboration that coincidence led onto. As I put in the comments book, the exhibition is social history vividly brought to life through words and textile art beautifully blended.
It’s just a shame that the gallery, which feels so right there at Brunner Court, may have to relocate before too long.