An important element of the Love This Place show is my family story. This image below is a screen print of a charcoal drawing of my Mum, Eleanor Wood, along with a rubbing of the family name, a map of Gosforth where we grew up, and a slideshow of photos of her and her friends.
A recording of a conversation between us, based on looking at the map which is of Gosforth in 1913, plays through the headphones. The conversation took place in 2013 and would not be possible now because of the Parkinson’s Disease she has suffered for nearly 20 years. I live a couple of miles from her in Leeds and have been looking after her through those years, alongside my two sisters and many other family and friends. She turned 90 last year and has weathered her illness with resilience and courage, as well as a great sense of humour.
Love This Place honours women’s strength, my Mum and all our mothers. It explores the complex relationships around and along the matri-line, embodied in my walking art project- from Leeds, where we live and my daughter Eleanor grew up, to Newcastle, where my Mum and I grew up and where my daughter and her daughter (Isla-May Eleanor) now live. While the show has been on lots of connections have been made and meetings made possible- between grandmothers, mothers and grandaughters, old and new friends, people from most parts of mine and my family’s life. The show has reached out along many matri-lines and friendships, creating new stories and bringing people together. My university friend Trish from Glasgow turned up with her granddaughter who had a lovely time playing with my granddaughter, friends from Holland called in and met Eleanor and her children, marvelling (as you do) at the transformation of girl to mother, my family friend Jane has got to know Rebecca who now lives in the house where her mum, one of my mum’s best friends, grew up (next door to my mum). Stories to make your head spin. I am taking mum up to the show today with my cousin and his wife (who grew up in Newcastle) and we will meet my daughter and her children- a memorable gathering.
Yet more gathering will be happening on Sept 2nd, a Garden Party at Gosforth Civic Theatre. As part of the show I am organising an open event to raise funds for Parkinson’s UK, the main charity for research and support for everyone affected by the condition. There will be food, stalls, live music, singing, poetry and an opportunity to be together, see the show and support a good cause. As ever, it is has been made possible through the generosity and care of family and friends who have donated money and things to sell and raffle. Hard work but worth it.