|Patchwork tapestry from 1986, Caroline's piece is top right|
my Easter break in Norfolk with my Dad then on the last weekend I travelled north-westwards,
not too far from home, to Cambridgeshire. This part of the country is so near to
home but somehow I felt like I was in foreign country during the few days that I
places it is just as flat as Norfolk, if not flatter, and there seems to be more
open space and more sky, and it seemed in a way more rural, more oldie worldie
and more touristy. There are however rises in the countryside that enables one
to see even further than in Norfolk, with views across farmland and yellow
only did I feel that I was in a different country but I felt like I was
stepping back in time too.
was because the reason that I was in Cambridgeshire was to join the family of a
client of mine from thirty years ago. This client had died just before Christmas
and the Memorial Service that I attended to celebrating her life was planned to
coincide with what would have been her fifty-seventh birthday. She was the
same age as me and perhaps this is why we had got on so well.
kept in touch with but not met the family in all the years since 1987 when I
had left my work as an art therapist and art teacher at the place where my
client had lived.
so at home and so at ease with all the people whom I met at the service and
especially with the people who were there from the home where my client had
lived for all those years since I had worked there. What surprised me most was
that Caroline’s friends remembered me, and that their carer, who had as a
fourteen-year-old been helping out in the 1980s doing a Duke of Edinburgh’s
Award, remembered me too. We had a great time looking through the album of
photos that I had compiled for the family and reminiscing about those happy
times thirty years ago.
while I was working in the amazing art and craft studio, that I describe below
in the piece that I wrote for the Memorial Service, that I first discovered
1987 had been the year that the first Birmingham trainee conductors began their training. In the previous years while I had been working at that wonderful arts
centre the British papers had been full of the Pető
Institute and its work, about pressure groups set up in the UK and with reports
about British families travelling with their children to attend groups in Budapest. I
had been really inspired by what I had read about Conductive Education and knew
that this was what I would like to do. I was excited when I saw an advert in
the Tuesday Guardian’s education supplement for trainee conductors and had been
motivated to apply, although I knew that I did not have the qualifications that
off the application anyway but was to be disappointed as I had not worked in a
state school so was not yet a fully qualified teacher, and I had no music
experience, which at that time had been another of the criteria for the
training. Two years later, having worked in a state school for a year, I re-applied
I was accepted, and my conductive life begun. But I shall never forget the
experience of working in that lovely centre with my client from Cambridgeshire
and her friends, and my lovely arty colleagues. I learnt so much during that
time and I am sure that it was because of this experience that I was so open to
everything that I saw and learnt in Budapest. I soaked it all up like a sponge.
with thanks for having been able to take part in this inspiring work that I participated
in the celebration of Caroline’s life. Everyone said what wonderful work my
colleagues and I did there but it was I who had been motivated and inspired by
my clients, so motivated that I sadly chose to leave them and to become a
conductor. I thank them for their part in my life at that time and I thank them
also for the welcome back into their lives on that windy Sunday afternoon just
a few weeks ago.
|A step down Memory Lane|
My speech given at Caroline's Memorial Service on April 12, 2015
Caroline thirty years ago her home in Bedfordshire where she was a member of
the group of very creative artists whom I had the pleasure to work with. We
worked in the arts and crafts workshop that Sue F, Geoff B and I ran
almost along the lines of an art school! Caroline and her friends excelled in
this creative atmosphere.
worked with a music therapist, an art therapist, the farm workers and further
education teachers, as a huge, happy and creative family of which Caroline
loved to be a part.
and I were friends from the start, we were the same age and we soon discovered
that we had something very special in common. We both had a Mum who sent us two
or three postcards every week, sharing details with us of life at home! Homes
that both of us loved and often missed.
receiving my Mum’s cards, and I still have them all, so I knew how precious
Caroline’s were to her. I used to leave mine on my kitchen table for a few days
before finding them a spot on the wall, but Caroline always carried her
postcards with her in her skirt pocket where they stayed until the next one
arrived. Everyone she met during the day could read them to her and it was in
this way that I got to know her family. I learnt about new-born babies, brothers
and sisters, and lots about Dad and John and the comings and goings on the farm.
about her family on her cards also enabled me to understand Caroline’s
beautiful drawings and tapestries that almost always depicted home and family
|Caroline's tapestry of home with family and Mum's green house, 1986|
long I began to take my postcards from my Mum to share with Caroline and the
rest of the group.
quite some time, and many postcards later, before I met any of Caroline’s
family in the flesh!
Geoff and I encouraged our ‘arty students’ to produce a huge range of creative
work for which we soon realised we needed an outlet. It was at our first
exhibition in our workshop that I eventually met Caroline’s Mum and Dad. They
must have wondered why I felt that I knew them so well!
|Frank Ifield in his gallery in Bedfordshire|
we were very lucky to be given the use of a local art gallery, owned by Frank
Ifield and the private views were a highlight for Caroline and friends. We sold
many of the works of art and from the proceeds we were able to take the ‘artists’
out for treats. I remember joyful
occasions when Sue Feast and I took Caroline, and her friends Becky and Diane,
for cream teas in Ampthill and another time when we travelled further afield to
an art festival where Caroline and I had such fun together at an origami
we were doing Caroline was always there joining in and having fun with often
her main aim being to make us all laugh as much as possible.
was always great fun to be with, everyone loved her and her wonderful sense of
|Caroline dressing up |
I am so
glad that Caroline always kept in touch. She did so with Christmas cards, at
first with help from her Mum and later from her sister, Elizabeth.
wrote to tell me the sad news of Caroline’s death I was reading a book of
nature stories by Mark Cocker and one of his stories brought memories flooding
back of the detailed descriptions of farm-life that I read aloud to Caroline from
her Mother’s postcards.
of Caroline’s postcard-stories exist today I would like to close with an
extract from that story I was reading, a story that coincidentally mentions
butterflies, which Elizabeth tells me were one of Caroline’s passions, after Dr
Who. Amongst these butterflies flew a
solitary, velvety, purple peacock. I know that now, whenever I spot one, I will
always be reminded of Caroline.
19 May 2008
The sudden flush of heat
across East Anglia has set the farm fields racing skywards, and on the southern
edge of the Waveney floodplain the world has divided into just two colours, the
green spiring up and the blue pressing down. Yet one colour has also bled into
its neighbour. The cow pastures at Wheatacre are made up largely of a flowering
grass, rather oddly named ‘Timothy’, and there is a faintly bluish tone to each
separate inflorescence of this species. When reviewed in aggregate across the
flats, the fields of Timothy made it seem as if that ozone blue had somehow
come down to Earth, secreting itself among the vegetation.
Over this shining
green-blue landscape, which rippled gently in a cold westerly, butterflies
struggled against the breeze. They were mainly whites but every now and then a
peacock sallied across the grass canopy as a scrap of plush purple velvet.
|Caroline and her Mother|
|Me and my sister.|