A piece combining artwork, music and poetry from three older women creating work in the South West.
Artwork by Susan Derges
Music by Ruth Behan
Poetry by Louisa Adoja Parker
About the creators:
Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer and poet of English-Ghanaian heritage who lives in south west England. Her first poetry collections were published by Cinnamon Press, and her third, How to wear a skin, was published by Indigo Dreams. Her debut short story collection, Stay with me, was published in 2020 by Colenso Books. Her poetry pamphlet, She can still sing, was published by Flipped Eye in June 2021, and she has a coastal memoir forthcoming with Little Toller Books.
Louisa’s poetry and prose has been widely published. She has been highly commended by the Forward Prize; twice shortlisted by the Bridport Prize; and her grief poem, Kindness, was commended by the National Poetry Competition 2019. She has performed her work in the south west and beyond and has run many writing workshops.
Louisa has written extensively about ethnically diverse history and rural racism, and as well as writing, works as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultant. She is a sought-after speaker and trainer on rural racism, black history, and mental health.
Ruth Behan was born in 1953 into a working-class family which had a strong tradition of music and literature (the playwright Brendan Behan was her uncle). She had violin lessons at school but, due to dyslexia, found it easier to pretend to read music and play by ear instead. She later dropped out of school after her beloved violin teacher died.
Then followed a period of a mis-spent youth. The positive aspect was that she played the fiddle and studied both the Irish and the Blues tradition, playing in bands and sessions.
Ruth worked in the antique furniture trade and then as a care assistant and finally in the job she loved most, which was Childcare and Education and prompted her to study the subject with the Open University.
Since 1992 She has worked with West County songwriter Chris Hibberd in their popular festival band Billy in the Lowground: www.billyinthelowground.co.uk
In 2019 Ruth wrote a short piece about her childhood, Stalin on the Mantelpiece, which was selected by Literature Works to be published in Common People – an Anthology of Working-Class Writers, edited by Kit de Waal.
Ruthie then wrote a memoir of her childhood and continues to work on a novel, but music is her main focus at the moment because, she says –
“People seem to like my music – they even pay to hear it, or at least they don’t send rejection letters.”
Susan Derges is aphotographer who has explored a wide range of approaches to the medium and became known in the 1990s for her large camera-less photograms of some of the rivers and shorelines of Devon and Dartmoor where she has lived for the past 33 years. The River Taw was a particular focus for this work and a book titled “Woman Thinking River” was published in 1998 by Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. Subsequently she has worked in residence at the Museum for the History of Science, Oxford; Kingswood forest in Ashford, Kent; the Royal Museums Greenwich and informally with the Marine biology department at the University of Plymouth, who she consulted during the production of a body of work titled Tide Pools that were exhibited at the RPS Bristol in 2022. In the early 1980s she lived and worked in Japan for 6 years and this formative experience has influenced much of her image making and thinking, particularly concerning the natural world and our relationship to it. She has collaborated with writers and poets on a number of publications and her works can be found in public and private collections world-wide including the V&A, London; Arts Council of England; and RAMM, Exeter.
This multi-artwork film has been made possible by the coordination of Literature Works:
We are a dynamic writer and reader development team, at the centre of regional networks in South West England. We engage communities with creative self-expression through words and stories. Our vision is a vibrant, connected and sustainable culture of stories and words, where inclusion is prioritised, diversity celebrated and opportunity available to all. We use our artform to help enrich lives, strengthen communities, enhance wellbeing and explore pressing issues such as climate change. We enable new voices to be heard. We use a combination of digital and place-based delivery to achieve broad reach via secure and supportive networks. We offer writer training, we produce live events, offer advice sessions, workshops, and writing courses. We support talent development, nurture new initiatives, and connect writers with communities. At any one time we lead a range of projects and partnerships, from the Quay Words live literature programme in Exeter – a UNESCO City of Literature – to the training of local poets and delivery of dynamic poetry workshops at Memory Cafés through our Poetry Cares project, sharing the joy and power of poetry with people living with memory loss and their carers. These are our two websites: www.literatureworks.org.uk and www.quaywords.org.uk