I was asked to make this snail heart for the Heart Felt exhibition, currently on at Centre Space Gallery Bristol. Paul, whose story I am symbolising is shown holding it aloft; he seems delighted – but I think mainly because it gave him an excuse to stop climbing ladders for a few moments, he was putting up poles for us to hang up the hundreds of hand -made hearts. I only read the first bit of his story which was attached to a photograph of a snail which, was all I had to work but like most of them I suspect it is a sad tale…………you can buy the excellent catalogue to read them all, “Heart Felt, Life Changing Moments” it’s compiled by Jan Connett and available from her .
I arrived on Thursday afternoon to help a team get the exhibition hung; it was the usual scene of everyone standing round looking a bit stunned and wanting a cup of tea; but within half an hour we were all working away to plans by Jan Connett who organised the whole project. There were about 10 people in all coming and going – most of them in for a long night, I had only a few hours but had volunteered for card making duty when I got home. Everything goes towards 3 charities the Children’s Hospice South West, the British Heart Foundation and the African Street Children Organisation and most of the hearts can be bought from as little as £5.00
I was given the job of hanging the first wall of hearts with a partner; they had all previously been strung out on lengths of fishing line with an elegant weight at the end – our first job was to unravel the lines and get them into order on the floor –
As soon as they emerged from their boxes I started to photograph them on the floor, they were all so different but all full of vitality. they each had a label written with their own stories ( if you enlarge the image by clicking on it – some of the stories can be read).
when I left the exhibition was coming together, it was starting to look really exciting – but what else is going to happen with that bike to make it suggest a heart felt moment?
the next morning this is what had emerged………….
The whole space had been transformed, 4 long rows of suspended hearts were gently swaying, twisting and turning, the whole room seemed to be swooning with hearts
I just loved the whole room – now there’s a surprise! it was white and airy with small brilliantly coloured hearts with messages to be read hanging from them;some sad about the death of a friend or family member, some about the loss of pets, there were many heart memorials.
Some are poignant about the loss of a loved parent to Alzheimer’s, now gone out of reach and recognition – others about the loss of self due to illness and broken relationships – but most are joyous – happy snippets of remembered times, seasons, gardens, fishes – anything and everything worth celebrating by making a heart.
Most heart warning are the hearts that celebrate a long loving relationship, the button heart is for 55 years of happiness and a birth of a great grandchild; the ivy wreath heart is dedicated to a life lived with “electric touch, shared pleasure, constancy and truth”
the Fish heart has a label saying “only dead fish go with the flow” and the funny face is for a well remembered and much loved grandmother
the 2 contrasting hearts below are for joy, of watching seeds grow and the joy of finding a safe key holder for her heart…..
But my favourite heart of all is the one I found revealed on the worn painted floor as I was tidying up at the back of the gallery.