Mixed media: Wandsworth Whispers

The Wandsworth Whispers project began with Artists Ellie Shipman, Emma Parish, Issac Ngugi, Claire Taylor and Arti Prashar collecting stories from older people with Wandsworth during workshops.  The stories were shared with the public at pop up storytelling locations during Wandsworth Arts Festival, at Roehampton Library and ASDA Clapham Junction.  At the storytelling locations, led by Ellie Shipman, the public could listen to the stories and respond to them with their own stories.  Finally we created the Story Box installtion which took place at The Shimmy and at the Capital Age Festival.

Below you can listen to the snippets of the older people's stories that were played to the public, and see images taken across the project.

Audio: Wandsworth Whispers recordings

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Transcript of audio

Transcript for Wandsworth Whispers (WW audio_1-2)

[Dog barking]

Voice 1: Ah, here it is. I knew I shouldn’t have let it roll off the worktop. I just needed to see if Jamie had stuck that…bone of his down the side of the washing machine, there’s been an awful pong coming from it and I thought it could be that half knuckle from the butcher’s. It’s not like Jamie not to finish a bone mind, I think he must’ve got a bit confused, he’s not getting any younger, none of us are. Or perhaps he was hoarding it, saving it for later. Gosh, I‘m rambling, aren’t I? It’s been a dreadful week; my nose is shot. I wanted to give Jamie a treat, he’s been such a good friend to me, he’s never left my side since that awful day by the river. ‘Bodygate’ as I call it. Let me switch the torch on and have a look down the side of the washer. Ugh! A dead rat! Why does this keep happening to me?

***

Voice 2: She stayed and hid in one of the little rooms. And all the little pensioners, they’re having the evening cups teas etc etc. And then a lot of them went home. But someone stayed behind and opened the back door and let all these other pensioners in from the other side and they put all lights on and made a casino. [laughter] And they were all gambling away like mad in the back room. ‘Oh’, said the Warden, ‘we can’t have this!’, so she called the police and they all got arrested. Well it was quite amusing to see all these little pensioners being pulled out the pub with there little walking sticks and mobility bikes.

[Sound of rain falling]

***

[Female voice singing Traditional French song]

***

Voice 3: Well, this is the picture of a man and this tree meant so much to him and he’s feeling sad because there’s been a big storm and this tree’s gone down. And it’s in the local park to where he lived when he was a boy. And his mum and dad used to bring him to this park. And eventually when they got big enough him and his brother used to play in this tree, much to his mum’s fear that they might fall off but nevertheless they did it. And now he’s standing there thinking about these things because his mum and dad both passed on and he and his brothers had this bench put in this park in memory of his parents. So you can imagine that he’s standing there feeling sad that this tree is gone, because after they grew up they used to come to together or either one at a time and sit on this bench and think about their mum and dad.

[Twinkling and chiming of bells]

***

Voice 4: And also as he’s looking at the tree his mum is in the background envisioned like a spirit, looking at him. She’s smiling as if to say I used to sit on this seat with your dad.

[Musical interlude]

***

Voice 5: This is a man who captured a bird, put it in a cage and he was going to teach this bird how to sing like him.

[Female voice singing: ‘Bird put you in this cage, trap you forever until you learn to sing.’]

It’s mates all discussed how they were going to get their friend out this cage. So they had a big meeting of all the birds in the area and they had a plan to capture this man. So for a year they went into all the fields and the woods and they built a huge big cage identical to this but big enough for a man. And when they had finished this cage they had ropes and they flew over to this man with their ropes and wound the ropes round his wrists. They opened the cage to let their friend out and they flew off with this man and dragged him across the field. And they had this big cage in the middle of the field and they dragged him in, locked him in and they all flew round singing, saying, ‘You will now stay in this cage, so that you know how it feels to be locked in but able to see us out in the open air singing. And we will keep you here until you can sing like us.’

[She sings: ‘Man trapped inside this cage, trap you forever until you learn to sing.’]

***

Voice 6: I’ve often strolled through the garden and round the rocks and then she caught her boyfriend being very naughty with another girl.

[Musical interlude: panpipes]

***

Voice 1: I am in Wimbledon Park, walking over a little wooden bridge when I see a magpie in the tree; it is stealing eggs from other bird’s nests. I see a little boy and girl playing on the slide with their mother helping nearby. I feel I would like to join them because they are having so much fun. I look up and see an Admiral butterfly coming down from a sycamore tree. The colours on it are amazing to behold. Then –

Voice 7: Well, it makes you feel like Spring and Summer’s coming, the sunshine’s coming and it’s good for you…yeah.

***
Voice 8: Well Frank Retchum was a theatre designer and a brilliant one and he designed the old, do any of you remember the Shakespeare theatre in Lavender Hill? No? And he also designed the round Hippodrome and that was destroyed in the blitz, which is sad as my mother and father used to take me to the pantomimes there and it was very good. And I love pantomime because you become involved, you know you sing and go up on the stage and help out and I think that is very good. Does anybody know why Lavender Hill is called Lavender Hill? No? Well, one thing people found very difficult, as there were no sleeping pills, but a bag of lavender under your pillow puts you of to sleep as best as anything and that’s why it’s called Lavender Hill, it was a huge field of lavender.

[He sings]

***

Voice 9: And then I would still get captured back from, because he would like my hair.

***

Voice 1: I go have a look at some pretty flowers growing round the edge of the grass. Oh what a beautiful sight to behold. Nature is so wonderful in all of its glory. [Clinking of cups together] I had to shop today, I was in the park with Jamie, and as I was walking past the pond I was really shocked, I can’t even talk about it.

Voice 10: Oh, don’t…just take your time.

Voice 1: I saw a body in the water there;

Voice 10: Oh, mum that’s awful!

Voice 1: yeah, it was really terrible. I didn’t know it was body till I got closer, but Jamie was pulling on the lead, and when I got to the edge of the pond I thought it was a shop dummy, but when I got nearer I saw it had some hair on the head

Voice 10: ugh!

Voice 1: and it was a body apparently and I really had a fright.

Photos