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Sarah Butler specialises in writing residencies which explore and challenge the relationship between creative writing and place-making. You can find out more about her short fiction and novels on her personal writing site.
I am really excited to have been appointed to work on a long-term socially-engaged art project in Breightmet, Bolton. In collaboration with housing provider, Bolton@Home, I will be working with existing women’s groups and newly arrived families.
Inspired by Exyzt’s The Feasting Mouth, a communal oven and dining table, I will be in residence at Skirt of the Black Mouth, Southern Landscape Tate Modern, Sumner Street: 15-17 July & 11-15 August 2014.
I will create new work through conversation and observation, talking to businesses owners, workers, local residents and passers-by about three key themes:
1. Food in the city: its production and consumption; people’s experience of both lone lunches and communal dining; concepts of sharing, the social, exchange and conversation.
2. Transformation and the green within the urban environment: The Skirt of the Black Mouth and the feasting table sit within the Bankside Urban Forest. The forest offers a strong metaphor – a place of magic and transformation, danger and subversion. From the burnt wood ‘fence’ and wooden cobbles of the Skirt, to the concrete/ metal/glass expansion of the Tate.
3. Work and visibility: The new Tate extension is visible and tangible, something created by a vast team of engineers, architects and construction workers, which will change the landscape of the city. At the same time, other local workers construct equally complex structures that are invisible within the urban fabric – finance and business: work done on computer screens and over phone lines.
An illustrated book with new writing will be available from mid September onwards via Better Bankside and Tate Modern’s community programmes.
I will be in residence at the feasting table 12.00-14.30 on 15-17 July & 11-15 August. Pop by for a cup of tea and a chat, or get involved online: you can contribute to our lunch survey, let us know about your urban green space, and tell us about how visible or invisible your job is.
I was one of eight writers commission by the Centre For New Writing at Leicester University to create new work inspired by the post-industrial lives of buildings in Glossop and Leicester. I explored the history and current uses of the Howard Town Mills in Glossop. My five flash fictions are available to read online.
From April 2013 – April 2014 I was writer-in-residence for Where The Heart Is, a project with Age Concern Central Lancashire and CSV in Preston. Alongside four other fantastic artists, I worked with people with mild to moderate dementia and young people in care to explore ideas of home and community. You can explore the process and work of each artist on the project’s Facebook page, visit an exhibition, hosted by The Museum of Lancashire October -December 2014, and download my collection of stories, interviews and personal essays, Who Asked You?
In February- March I worked with people at Justlife, a Community Interest Company in Openshaw, Manchester who aim to raise the aspirations of vulnerable people by opening doorways to healthcare, treatment, housing and employment. Every Street Has A Story To Tell is a project run by Small Things celebrating local stories and creativity in East Manchester. I blogged about each session on the project website and some of the writing created was showcased at Beswick Library at a community celebration on 6th April 2013.
In March 2013 I worked with public artist Sam Haynes and students at Beatrix Potter and Earlsfield Primary schools in South London on STEP Beyond, a project creating a temporary trail of text art around Earlsfield as part of Wandsworth Arts Festival in May 2013. Sam is working hard on the final pieces and the trail will be launched at Earlsfield library on Friday 3rd May 2-5pm. Take a look at the work so far on Sam’s blog.
From 2011-2013 I have collaborated with my brother, a fantastic landscape photographer, on a project exploring the relationship between the landscape of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and its guardians. In May 2013 we will publish a book and host an exhibition featuring 40 views of the Park chosen by people who own, care for and manage the landscape. Each participant shared their stories of and passion for the place with me, and each image is accompanied by a text expressing these. The Working The View exhibition launches on Wednesday 15th May at Craven Art Gallery in Skipton. The book will be available to buy from that date, keep an eye on the project website for details or like the Working The View Facebook Page.
As part of All Change Arts‘ contribution to Islington’s fabulous Word Festival, I worked with poet Yemisi Blake and local residents and employees around Farringdon Station to create texts for a new hoarding in front of the Cross Rail site on Cowcross Street.
In 2011-2012 I was writer-in-residence at Great Ormond Street Hospital as part of their GO Create! arts programme. I worked with patients, carers and staff on five wards who were about to move into the sparkling new Morgan Stanley Clinical Building (which opened mid 2012). Together we created six stories inspired by the characters and environments which characterise the new building. The stories feature flamingos, walruses, bears, koalas and eagles and travel from depths of the sea up into the mountains and sky. The stories have just been published as beautiful picture books which will soon be available to purchase online. Audio versions have also been recorded featuring Sir Ian McKellen, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rhys Ifan, Peter Capaldi, Sarah Macillan and Barbara Windsor; do have a listen online.
Throughout 2009-2010, Sarah Butler worked with the fantastic photographer, Eva Sajovic, on Home from Home, a series of portraits and stories of people in Elephant and Castle. The project was driven by a desire to document the stories and connections present in the current Elephant and Castle, as the dramatic regeneration plans for the area start to be realised. As well as a gorgeous book, the photographs and texts are available online.