Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Austerity tablecloths

This summer, I worked with one of my favourite collaborators Gilly Vose (from the Norris Museum) on a 'memories in the community' print project. Together with some museum volunteers, we met with the lovely people who attend the St Ives day Centre to talk about their memories of foods and cooking from the 1940's. 

We developed images from these memories and the older people took part in screen printing these onto tablecloths.  As you can probably see, one memory lead to another and we included some of the memories that weren't specifically about food:

Two of the women in the group had been bus conductresses when they were young, and Maud remembered paying thrupence for a bath at the bathhouse in Islington.  That caused great hilarity - printing Maud in the bath!

One of the men remembered his mother knitting on the bus and most of the women remember knitting all the time.  Some of them still do.

Ration books, cod liver oil, these were common memories. Country and city memories were very different and people in the group had grown up in very different places. One gentleman remembered milking the family cow when he was about 8 years old and eating rabbit pie.  Another man grew up in Italy and remembered aubergine being his favourite food that his mother cooked at home.

"Porridge all the time", "Corned beef sandwiches for tea", "We worked as a family and scraped things together"  - these were some of the quotes we included on the cloths.

The whole project concluded with a traditional tea party and sing along in the museum garden. And the cloths have gone back to the day centre where can hopefully bring back some happy memories whilst being used.