Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Scudding Clouds | Tomato Soup

The dampness of this morning was brushed aside by the blustery wind, although lessened from previous days, it still ensured the clouds a scudded sky-journey above the undulating Manchester outskirts. My foot lifted and pressed and lifted and pressed, rhythmic and gentle against the car pedal, moving and slowing to manage the distances to brightening red lights in front of me.

I arrived early to the Wellspring Centre in Stockport and parked and unloaded my car on the quiet street outside.  It's at times like this that my thoughts often become invaded with a series of what are now standard questions echoing through my head; do you need all this stuff, will you use it all, what are you doing today? I have to say now, I never quite resolve this one with a feeling of satisfaction, I'm not sure I ever will!

Inside the room is clean and bright, made brighter still by the newly added Christmas lights dangling from the sturdy cross-beams. It's still quiet and Lois, Philip and I find time to continue our conversation from last week . . . how will the whole 'library' look, will it be a series of boxes that need to be opened to see what's inside, or will the entire display be completely visible as the viewer encounters it? Will books be grouped or categorised by size, or shape, theme, or content?  How will colour affect the final look - and is there a repeating colour throughout? These are important points for consideration for the final work, although we recognise that they don't all need answering today. We begin to look through the books and work we have so far, which is a lot; we make decisions about our focus and action for the day and get on with the task ahead.

At 12 the lunch service begins; a hearty bowl of tomato soup with vegetables and pasta, chunky brown or white sandwiches and steamed pudding with custard. The queue forms quickly and then disperses to the surrounding tables.  Conversation levels drop slightly as the focus shifts to sustenance and we join in too.

Over the day the levels of noise often shift up and down considerably, yet today seems much quieter than previous days, the television remained silent.  Odd words catch my ears . . .

'Have I got your mobile number?'

A gentleman struggles in his pocket, clearly trying to find something that's set in deep, he eventually finds a packet and stands to offer a cigarette to his table companion with a lovely smile. It's not wanted, and the cigarette is returned to the packet. Eating continues to eat in silence; unmatched languages make for difficult conversation.

'I mean, what do you do when all your clothes are wet?  I 'ave to be careful. Y'can't go out in wet clothes can you, and I can't dry 'em'.


 

Talking content, form and classification

There's been so much activity since I last worked with  Lois and Philip; the Homeless Library has grown to become a vast array of words contained within many different and curious book forms in all shapes and sizes.

We decided to lay as much as we could out on the table to see what there was, the image below shows a small part of the collection so far.  It really sharpened our minds to the scale of the future task and sparked a great conversation about the whole and its constituent parts; we talked ordering and sorting, display and interaction, particularly once it becomes it's final form; a travelling library.
















The different physical shapes and sizes present a great challenge to how the whole will come together best.  We talked around classification and the Dewey system in particular - how can these physical forms, be intertwined with stories and poetry in a way that doesn't become too complex to disconnect those who wish to engage.

Our discussion will continue today and I'm really looking forward to how we get on.