arthur+martha collaborated with the public for 15 years, particularly marginalised people, helping people find a creative shape for their individual visions and voices. Combining poetry and art, we shared the work of all the people we encountered with immense care – each a valued contribution to the world.
A Necklace of Stars (2020-2022)
‘A Necklace of Stars’ is a collaboration with isolated, housebound older people in Derbyshire, Together we are making an embroidered quilt, with a poem and song soundtrack.
A Book of Ours (2018-2021)
People who are affected by homelessness in Manchester are making a medieval-style illuminated manuscript, describing their lives, in a 2-year project
Here Comes the Sun (2020)
We invited people from across the globe to make embroidery for a Covid quilt, Here Comes the Sun. Open to everyone, whether you regularly stitch, make art, or haven’t picked up needle and thread since school, all were welcome.
Whisper to me alone (2020)
WHISPER TO ME ALONE gathered experiences and insights from people affected by homelessness in Manchester during lockdown, using journals of writing, art and song lyrics.
War Widows’ Stories (2018-20)
War Widows’ Stories remembers the lives of war’s forgotten women past present, through art, poetry, oral history, academic research and public events.
Moving Panorama (2018)
Working with people who have experience of homelessness, we are combining visual art, songwriting and performance to create scrolling artworks.
the warm /&/ the cold book (2018)
“Testimony forged into art…” Ian McMillan THE WARM /&/ THE COLD is an illustrated poetry book by many authors. The lives of people affected by homelessness, older people (many with dementia) and young offenders, are expressed as poetry and artworks – all adorned with their life stories. arthur+martha worked for several years with diverse communities…
Armour is a project with homeless veterans, developing creative ideas based on medieval armour.
Sing me to Sleep (2015-2017)
Working with homeless people in Vilnius, Lithuania and Manchester, England. Creating an embroidered quilt, poems, audio pieces and other artwork.
Stitching the Wars (2014-2017)
A two year collaboration with older people in Derbyshire. Producing two embroidered quilts, a book, interviews and a series of poems.
The Homeless Library (2014-17)
The first history of British homelessness. Told through poems, interviews, artworks and handmade books.
Making Memories (2012-15)
Art and poetry workshops in Oldham with older people including those with dementia, resulted in a book of creative ‘recipes’ for artwork and poetry stimulated by reminiscence.
Spaghetti Maze (2012 – 13)
Older people living with dementia recorded their Life Stories, through art and poetry.
the warm /&/ the cold quilt (2012)
Homeless people in Manchester created a quilt out of denim fabric, responding to the questions when where you warm? when where you cold?
The PCT researched dementia care in Salford. Our aim was to create art and poetry with older people that reflected what it ‘felt like’ to live with dementia, complementing the more formal research.
Four Acre, St Helens (2011)
Working with hard-to-reach older people in the arts, in an economically deprived area. Workshops at the local Bingo, Chiropody clinic, Tesco, library, day centre…
A Map of You (2011)
Homeless people in Manchester wrote themselves into the public eye, creating ‘customised’ tourist postcards and Lowry postcards of Manchester and Salford.
Standout projects include the Homeless Library 2016, the first-ever history of British homelessness, exhibited at the Houses of Parliament and the Southbank. The War Widows’ quilt stitched together artworks, poems and personal testimony. Bring Light Towards You showed poetry animations by holocaust survivors on public screens at Piccadilly Railway Station.
Quilts were a way of making many-handed work, for example The Bombers Moon quilt is a textile artwork that’s both an aerial view of Derbyshire and a war poem that subtly changes sides. The poems and stitches record histories of hurting and also of healing. Just as a wound can be stitched, perhaps memories can be stitched too. Look carefully at these threads, these traces, they are another kind of telling…
All the projects combined art and poetry exploring many paths towards the telling of people’s stories. A series of books documents some of them — starting with Patience (2009), a journey through hospital co-made with older people, gathering depictions of how it feels to be a patient. the warm /&/ the cold (2018) is a poetic epic, interleaving homeless lives, a dementia club, young offenders and a community group of older people.
Songwriting, calligraphy, pottery, filmmaking, sound art, concrete poetry, visual poetry… Not only did arthur+martha challenge societal boundaries, they also played beyond the artistic goal posts. The quilts were stitched pages carrying poems that blossomed with rich colours and deep emotion. Oral histories became verses, entwined with drawings, or morphed into songs.
“You’ve got to look deep inside these pictures and these words. Then you get the true story of what is being told here, it is told as it is, it is the truth. I have witnessed it…”
Anonymous, A Book of Ours