Welcome to the first of many blogs for my year-long writer-in-residence at the Forbury Residential Home in Leominster. Thank you to Arts Council England for making it possible and seeing the potential. Please share far and wide.
I feel very lucky to have this opportunity to to develop my professional writing practice. It feels right that it is now. I am at a crossroads – my youngest left home some months ago, leaving me bereft and with an empty house and the big, unfathomable question: what now? Well, for the next 12 months I will have my ‘Cartographic Love Letters’. I hope, somewhere along the way, I find some answers and that the project will act as a leaping board to more work.
At its heart, ‘Cartographic Love Letters’ will collaborate creatively with 38 residents, who have memory loss and mental health illnesses – and with their families and staff – to create a ‘cartographic loveletter’ that, at a glance, tells the myriad stories and tales that are waiting to be told but are in danger of being lost, and celebrate them. Experiences, loves, losses, routes, journeys, will act as inspiration in artwork, poems, blogs, stories. In essence, I want to unlock the potential of the residents at the Forbury and create a ‘cartographical’ record of their life.
If, even it is just a snapshot of time, I can increase a sense of well-being and reduce isolation, then the residency will be worth it for me. And it will be a huge bonus if the project inspires other to stop, listen, and notice.