Each year arts organisation Metal invites a number of artists into residence. The artists spend time in the city undertaking research to inform new performances and art works. Working in the city, meeting people and exploring places, invariably ends up with the resulting art works being about Peterborough or involving local residents. This month sees Metal introduce artist and internationally acclaimed milliner Eloise Moody…
Can you tell us about your work and what you are doing in Peterborough?
I am an artist and maker working on a project exploring inherited family memory. I am currently doing research by talking to a wide range of Peterborough residents with a particular focus on older people and those who are the last in their family line. Together we discuss the responsibility we feel (or don’t feel) to family memory and the ways in which we remember people, places and moments that have gone before. Sometimes it’s through the objects we choose to keep that remind us of a loved one, sometimes through objects we’ve been given – and perhaps don’t really want. It can be found in a gesture, a particular meal or a turn of phrase.
I am exploring the idea of a ‘modern heirloom’ and what that could be. Instead of a piece of expensive jewellery or furniture, perhaps we can think about an heirloom being a particular meal, the wallpaper in your grandparents home or the smell of your mothers soap or perfume.
What brought you to the city?
I was one of the ten artists who made work during the Harvest Festival meal in 2015 (I made 125 loaves of bread in which I hid envelopes and solid gold relics). Working in Peterborough was a real pleasure so I was delighted when the excellent people at Metal offered me a residency last year to develop my current project.
Who have you been working with so far?
The Italian Centre elders’ lunch club has been fantastic, as has a local older men’s cycling club. I’ve had some really interesting conversations with individuals and am meeting some nuns tomorrow. I am very keen to talk to a real cross section of people.
It’s an endlessly rich subject to talk about and one that everyone has something interesting to contribute to- whether you have lost someone; had to sort through another person’s belongings; moved to a foreign country; thought about your own legacy or simply remembered your childhood.
Have there been any interesting findings?
Huge amounts! Far too many to cram in here. When talking to people about what they consider precious, often handwritten items are mentioned and it’s very interesting to see how people cherish them- from tattoos of a loved-ones handwriting, to a scrap of paper carried around in a wallet.
Food traditions and language are often discussed as things that are passed on. It’s been interesting talking to those who have moved to Peterborough from other countries about what feels important to conserve and how you go about doing that.
What do you hope to achieve with the work?
After this initial research phase, I am hoping to work with some of the people I have met through conversations to create a permanent archive of modern heirlooms, representing not just individual memories but also the multiple ways in which we remember.
How can people get involved?
I am in particular looking to talk to people who are the last in their family line. I am also interested in hearing from those who may be significantly downsizing and having to think about their possessions and making decisions about what to keep. If you would like to get in contact, please email me or call Metal (see below).
What’s the best thing about Peterborough?
The friendliness of the people definitely tops the list although the Sue Ryder vintage shop gets a special mention for being such a trove.