Night-time, in this unslept-in town. Skateboarders in the square, repeating themselves across the paving slabs. A handful of drinkers, hunched over quiet pints. A woman grinding her cigarette underfoot. Streetlights cast their yellow haze across empty streets. And in the car park, amongst the concrete pillars and fluorescent lights, the car-mods come, show off their latest trick, admire the tuning of another’s engine, the flash of silver alloys – all that time spent oil-slicked, forehead-scrunched, turned to pure gold.
I was born and grew up in Stockport, but never really paid the town much attention. As an adult, I lived in other towns and cities for sixteen years, before coming back to live not far from my childhood home. It was with delight, therefore, that I accepted Arc’s invitation to work with them on a project asking Where is the heart of Stockport? I didn’t know the answer, and was curious to explore what it might be.
My process was two-fold: first, a series of six writing workshops with a range of people, from young carers, to adult writers, to refugees and asylum seekers, exploring their relationship with Stockport through poetry, found text, and prose. Second, a series of conversations with local people – councillors, market traders, museum curators, historians, artists and shoppers – which I responded to with my own pieces of writing. It was a real joy to get to know Stockport – to listen to its stories; to explore its history and its everyday reality; to pay it attention.
I have always been drawn to the linguistic link between text and textiles, both of which come from the latin verb texere, ‘to weave’. And so I was thrilled to be paired up with textile artist, Julie Mosley, who shares my own interest in place, maps, and sited stories. It was a thrill to see how Julie and her workshop groups worked with the texts created by myself and my workshop groups, interpreting them in such a variety of ways. Julie and I also had two days working together on four new textile pieces. I am always inspired by other artists’ processes and loved seeing how Julie thought about light, shape, repetition and scale in relation to my texts.
Unpicked:Restitched has given me a new way of looking at Stockport. I hope the work produced will offer the same to those who see it.