Sing me to Sleep (Padainuok man labanakt)
The Sing me to Sleep project was a journey through a fairy-tale forest, a homeless life. There among shadows and long-forgotten riddles, in words, cries and laughter, nothing is certain. What is small and what is big, light or dark, good or bad, real or imagined? The 2015 exhibition that resulted, in Vilnius at the National Art Gallery of Lithuania, was the largest-scale single exhibition of art by homeless people in the world, to date.
This British-Lithuanian art project began in both Vilnius and Manchester in November 2015. People who face poverty and homelessness worked with art organisations arthur+martha and Socialiniai memo Projektai, to take a transformative journey, exploring the tangled forests of fairy-tale, childhood and their current life.
The range of work included storytelling, arts workshops and quilt-making, poetry, walks. Life stories were shared, old fairy tales remembered and new tales told, often emerging out of true-life experience. The tellers’ voices were woven into sound pieces that layered ambient sound recordings, sound making, street musicians, a fight in a homeless centre and Lithuanian choirs.
This project draws attention to the importance of the creative arts in the lives of people who are on the margins of society. It also expands the understanding of homelessness, by presenting participants’ thought about the values of our common humanity: home, security, health, solitude. And the values of taking walks together and walking together through life.
147 people at The Booth Centre Manchester, and The Wellspring Stockport aged 18-65.
50 people in Vilnius Lithuania.
Project diary and evaluation blog
On-line portfolio arthur-and-martha
Find out about our partners socialiniaimenoprojektai
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You can listen to poems and songs being read by the participants
You can hear Socialiniai Meno Projektia, Lithuanian recordings Padainuok Man Labanakt
You can read more poems from the project at arthur-and-martha-poems
January – March 2017 Manchester Central Library. Audience 36,000+
December 2016- January 2017 Bury Art Museum. Audience 5980
September – October 2016 National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania. Audience 7500.
Total Audience (live) 49,480
Press and media coverage
UK generated on-line audience 15,000+
Lithuanian media-coverage-sing-me-to-sleep on-line, radio and press, 100,000 plus
Project partners and supporters:
arthur+martha, Socialiniai memo Projektai, The Booth Centre, The Wellspring, The British Council, the Tiltas Trust, Manchester Metropolitan University (Arts for Health), arthur+martha, the Lithuanian Art Museum / the National Gallery of Art. Arts Council England, Lithuanian Council for Culture, the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.
Quilt poem Woodland in winter it's bloody cold icy crackling days, cold dark nights. Winter in the woods came upon my life by my own design, to sit here a lonely man and there is sat a bird, a fictitious thing of all ways in nothing to see a beauty in grey and green its hungry eyes telling me to feed him and all I had was bread to warm him I used my coat and wrapped him in yet unto my eyes he stared and to sleep I went. (I wake from the cold and find I have shrunk To a five inch fool.) Phil Barraclough