On Saturday night we launched Journey with Absent Friends in the beautiful grounds of Abbey House Museum. After a day of rain, the clouds parted and we were able to sit in the garden with the smell of Rosemary, the taste of Rhubarb iced tea and a beautiful view of the Abbey. And this change in the weather seems like a mirror of the process.
We were delighted to get our funding decision in at the start of March. In 3 short months we have delivered an international conference with visiting practitioners from Mexico, India, Germany and the U.S, facilitated a series of workshops with communities around Leeds, chaired a panel at Edinburgh Science Festival and designed and built The Caravan. All amazing things. Very little sleep.
In the midst of all the activity, being blown from one end of the country to the other, carving out time to reflect has been a challenge. The Grief Series has always had parts of my autobiography sprinkled through it but this is the first project where it really feels front and centre. Which of course has come with some dark days of self-doubt, asking the question "why should anyone care?" and how does this remain open and relevant. And part of my story has become the collecting of others people’s stories so of course we have had gorgeous memories kindly contributed by other people. I feel totally overwhelmed by how amazing the team has been on this project. It’s been a large team all working incredibly hard. My producers Anna and Jess have looked after me so impeccably. Matt and Bethany have endured some stormy weather with renovating a caravan that had ‘sold as scrap’ on the receipt. Hayley’s embroidered maps are totally beautiful. Jo and Stu from the Swine that Dines have been so attentive in linking the food to my memories. We’ve had amazing people like Tom Woodland and Jaz Krokback working on the project. People who have, in a very moving and unspoken way, understood the values of the Grief Series. Everyone has been working with kindness and sensitivity. A real gift growing out of all that grief. So as the launch guests waved me off with the caravan in tow, we had a start full of sunshine. I’m sure we’ll encounter wind and rain along the way but for now….
Thanks Leeds. Thanks Team Grief. We’ll see you in a month.
Images by Matt Rogers