Stories from Teams and Bensham Community Care
We teamed up with members of the Teams and Bensham Community Care Lunch Club for a unique project exploring memories.
Those involved saw snapshots of their lives among the soft furnishings of a supermarket giant in the creative new project.
Sitting between the dinner plates and duvets at Asda Living were tales from Ada who’d hop on her scooter to Blackpool and Rosaline, who worked at Barons on Team Valley hand-sewing men’s suits.
It was the first time the store on Team Valley Retail Park handed over its aisles to become a community art space for the unique exhibition of prints and memories inspired by life in Gateshead.
The memories of more than 20 residents living in Gateshead’s Teams and Bensham communities were collected as part of the 12-week storytelling project, funded by Big Lottery Awards For All.
Among those who took part was Doreen Herring, 84, who has lived in Gateshead for 58 years. She said: “I used to run a jazz band with my husband, I’ve lived a very hectic life. It will be fantastic to see our stories on the artwork in store and I have loved the opportunity to tell others about what life here used to be like.”
Their memories, which were also made into hand-printed books, captured the imagination of Whitley Bay printmaker Cath Walshaw, whose prints adorned kitchenware and textiles across the superstore.
Cath said: “I loved working on this project and hearing the stories bringing to life the real Gateshead.
“Having Asda Living become a community art space is a fantastic way of making art more accessible to everybody, it is not precious or tucked away in a gallery, this project is there for everyone to see and enjoy.”
The 12-week project was run by North East charity Equal Arts, which explores the impact creativity can have on health and wellbeing and supports creative opportunities for older people.
Artist Richard Bliss, who led the project for Equal Arts, said: “We explored story-telling with people using the Teams and Bensham Community Care Lunch Club and the response from everyone involved was so positive. We wanted to make these stories public and accessible to others in an interesting way that captured what life in Gateshead used to be like.”
The exhibition, entitled Stories in Store, was opened in March by Gateshead Mayor Coun Neil Weatherley and visitors from the Teams and Bensham Community Care Lunch Club.
Helen Redfern, Community Life Champion at the store, said: “This was the first time we had a project of this scale that will see products designed in this way and we were really taken with the idea of the project.
“The exhibition turned the store into a community art space and we hope people’s memories of living in the area helped recapture a sense of pride in Team Valley.”
Working together with Teams and Bensham Community Care we are running this book project with older people living in these two areas of Gateshead.
Started this summer the group is investigating the social history of their home town, telling their stories and sharing memories before recording them in a book which will be published later this year.
Together with artist Richard Bliss the group are learning practical creative skills linked to making their own book including how to print and how to make paper.
“The group is made up of men and women aged over 60. We have two sessions a week and the response from those involved has been hugely positive. They are researching the social history of Teams and Bensham, discussing how the areas have changed since their childhoods and early jobs. Richard is brilliant at encouraging people to talk and finding their stories.” Eileen McMaster, senior project coordinator at Teams and Bensham Community Care.
To be a part of the project, which meets every Friday from 10.45am at the communal lounge at Eslington Court, Bolam Street, Gateshead, ring us on 0191 477 5775.
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