Journeys and Stories (2015-2016)

Reading Museum ExhibitionElizabeth Fry and Thames Valley Partnership worked  together over a number of years to provide creative activity for residents at the hostel. The artwork currently displayed on the walls is the outcome of a 2 year project, Women at the HeArt, and led to funding from Arts Council England to support Journeys and Stories.  These sessions were led by experienced artists Christine Wilkinson and Carla Conte and culminated in two public exhibitions at Reading Museum and MERL (Museum of English Rural Life).Journeys and StoriesJourneys and Stories used the skills of professional visual artists and museum curators to enable female residents and staff at the hostel to tell their stories through creative activity. Sound artist Linda Mason recorded some of the women’s stories so that the spoken word was included in the exhibitions, enabling residents’ voices to be truly heard by visitors to the museum.

Sessions ran from November 2015 until end of March 2016, with the exhibitions on display during April through to August 2016. A selection of activities that the women participated in were:  working with wood, printing, painting, collage, book making, using textiles and sewing, painting on acetate and making images of themselves.  They also visited Reading Museum where they were taken round by 3 different curators to look at the various collections.

Quotes from participants:

This is therapeutic and has made me calm and relaxed.

This is the only group I enjoy.

That’s what I call satisfaction!! 

It’s been a perfect day – a marvellous occasion.  (Museum visit)


Staff in the hostel also benefitted from the project: Alison Leverett-Morris led 6 Action Learning Set sessions with staff as part of their professional development.  This was a unique approach to staff training and encompassed a creative approach alongside listening skills and supports the role of key workers at the hostel.

Journeys and Stories was funded by Arts Council England and managed by Thames Valley Partnership.


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