Past, present and future

In her regular column about The Mill community centre, Helen Bigham introduces a new exhibition

Our Story So Far exhibition

Zelda Elliott (Community Voices ESOL tutor) and Alison Dunne (art producer) displaying one of the artworks for the ‘Our Story So Far’ exhibition.

What do I love about The Mill? Coming in to work and feeling that I’m visiting the Cheers film set where everybody knows my name!

What do I wish for The Mill? I hope we never lose the big glass frontage that shows the world what’s happening inside our building.

During July we’re asking these questions on postcards, which will be hung up on display in an interactive art exhibition: Our Story So Far. The past, present and possible future.

This is an opportunity to celebrate The Mill. We’re taking a step back to see how far we’ve come, look at where we are now, and take a step forward towards the future. Our aim is to make the best use of our centre in a way which will inspire everyone to get involved, never forgetting that The Mill is more than just bricks and mortar – it’s the people who make it a home away from home. We’re encouraging visitors to become part of the story. This is a chance for us to hear what people think about The Mill and what they wish for our future.

Art producer Alison Dunne and graphic designer Tim Parker have worked with us to create the display. Artworks have been produced at three of our regular activities.

Representing the past is Community Voices, a group made up of a wide range of nationalities who come here to improve their English. Their idea was to show The Mill as a mainline railway station similar to Liverpool Street; each of the students share their own personal journey to arrive at The Mill on the canvas. The support gained from each other here will enable them to go off in different directions but our centre will always remain open to them.

Keeping very much in the present is a colourful canvas overflowing with knitted bunting and crocheted items. This has been crafted by our popular and long-standing knitting and crochet group. The artwork is dedicated in loving memory to Joyce McQuarrie, a founder member who sadly died earlier this year.

Thirdly, portraying our possible future, the kids’ art club painted what they wish to happen in our building. They let their imaginations run riot and suggestions included a tree house, secret art room, unlimited ice cream, and a swimming pool. George, one of the young artists, said “this looks wonderful” and I have to agree with him, there are already some wonderful contributions and I look forward to seeing how the exhibition develops.