As 2015 begins and we start planning our next workshops for the Trails and Tales project it feels appropriate to reflect on last years completed engagement with care homes. Kate Black and I often work together, Kate coming from a drama background and I from visuals arts, combining our skills to support the work we do with people.
We worked in 2 care homes Whitehill Court and Buchanan House, 2 day centers Birdston Day Care Centre and Oakburn Day Centre and an individual living complex called Bishopgate.
Working with objects from the Museum and old photographs we explored the rich history, stories, culture and people of East Dunbartonshire.
Many objects and photographs acted like time machines taking people back to the past, recalling characters such as Petticoat Dan and Sister Laura, memories of lost industries like the Lyon Foundry and landmarks such as the Spider Bridge.
There were also stories such as the Irish potato pickers form the Arran Isles that tragically died in a barn fire in Kirkintilloch.
The Bishopbriggs primary school bombing during the war was another stories that kept recurring. The death of the ‘kind’ janitor, who along with a number of others lost their lives on the night of 7 April 1941.
People talked about growing up in one of the villages: Auchinairn, Bishopbriggs, Cadder, Jellyhill and Mavis Valley or coming to live and work in the area as a result of gaining employment on the railway. Two women were the wives of doctors and played vital roles in taking calls and managing surgeries and one man wired houses that would then form the communities of Westerton and the surrounding area that we know today. These houses allowing many first time homeowners to move from Glasgow to the then countryside surrounded by farmland.
We had some key conversations with Bill Findlay a local historian who has written several books about the area. Using his local knowledge and research he proposed the Springfield Cambridge Trail, a walk that would take you from the original Cadder Free Church to the Springfield Cambridge Church. This suggestion has been put in the Trails and Tales ideas bank, which will continue to receive contributions from the whole artist team and the communities they are working with in East Dunbartonshire.
We would like to thank everybody who came along to these session, we discovered that although some memories were not as good as they once had been nearly everyone was able to remember their family CO-OP number, reeling them off as if standing at the counter waiting to fill their shopping bags. At Bishopsgate the residents brought their own objects that ranged from an old Kenmore Cinema listings, a co-op memorial box, gardening competition medals, books and family heirlooms. As well as some sad stories there was much laughter, shared memories, music and dancing. We often rounded up our sessions with a wee dance.