Making poetry at Cavendish Mill

The Royal Exchange Theatre’s local exchange programme worked in partnership with Jigsaw Homes at Ashton’s Cavendish Mill to create an art installation of poetry with Tameside-based artist/writer Hafsar Bashir. 

The project was developed to help residents of the apartments to connect together and understand more about the community where they live.  

Hafsah started the project by posting brightly coloured envelopes through the doors of the flats, inviting them to meet the artist and also to meet each other. The notes included poetry and quotes and resulted in more than 90 residents responding to Hafsah’s invitation. 

They participated in three workshops where they shared stories, memories and favourite songs over a hot brew.  

The meetings developed into a piece of poetry written by Hafsah with input from the residents.

The project helped to form relationships with the residents, bringing people together and making them less ‘strangers’ which was one of the key words in the poem: ‘Stop us being strangers - me and you, Here in Cavendish Mill.’ 

When the project was completed there was an evening of celebration where the residents met together again. Hot food and drinks were provided and Hafsah recited the poem that was projected onto the side of Cavendish Mill. 

Cavendish Mill

This place, built like a ship

Is a barge we sail on

Towing one another

Beneath, sometimes blue

Sometimes heavy sky

Steering life to the tune 

of our favourite songs

We are people here, not stock

Good friends looking 

out for each other

Each time a new one docks

Our stories over a hot brew

Stop us being strangers - me and you

Here in Cavendish Mill

Is where community comes through

Yes there’s pain here but also there’s hope

Because these aren’t just units,

These are our homes

We raise the sail of friendship

And ride the wind along 

the shore of us,

We the people of Cavendish Mill

Welcome you …

 

Hafsah Bashir 2019

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