Book of Ours
One of our makers was worried about having to rush his artwork. He was working on two pages of intricate text. I said, “This isn’t a job you do in a couple of hours, you might take weeks. And we’ve got weeks.”
He grinned, “Good, I like a bit of a ponder. So it’s the long haul is it?”
We’ve been working slowly, steadily, for several months now and our relationship to the book is changing. At first we were worried where was it taking us, this weird journey that follows the steps of medieval makers. And then there was a period when we got tripped up by details. Was this colour right? Was that bit of handwriting too illegible, or too neat?
As we continued with the book, week by week, we’ve learnt to trust the process. Every time we sit around this table in the Booth Centre, more remarkable pages are made. Each page is its own little world, it has a particular emotional gravity, has its own atmosphere, its own residents. Some of the pages are sweet or funny, some of them are the kind of waking nightmares you’d never want to live through. Some warm your heart, or break it.
Time changes when you read these pages, enter these worlds of word and image.
There’s the weight of the experiences of homelessness that the pages describe. But there’s also the sense of replaying an ancient set of rituals, the human act of marking our place in the world. Then there is the slowness of the actions required to construct the pages. This stuff can’t happen fast, it often takes days to make a page, the intricate decoration, the careful script. There might be several writers or artists involved, their contributions layering a thickness of time.
And the pages mark transitions in our own lives too. Many of the original group who we started with at The Booth Centre have moved on. Sadly one of our regular contributors died a week ago and the texture of that experience is another mark in A BOOK OF OURS. Now we know that whenever we open the book, we’re also opening up the memory of a lost friend.
This workshop was part of the project A Book of Ours, creating an illuminated manuscript with people who have experienced homelessness or at risk of. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Booth Centre is here to bring about positive change in the lives of people who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness, to help them plan for and realise a better future.