We made it, we did!

[22 February 2017]
The Butterfly Effect Project launched 22nd February at Kardomah 94 on Alfred Gelder Street in the city. A year-long public art project that begins with the 'Hull, We Made it We Did' exhibition. Regular readers of this blog will know that this is the moment the group have been building towards over the past few months.
The bright colourful banners transform the theatre space, hanging down like Tibetan prayer flags, each carrying the name of a Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group member. The exhibition is rich on content and storytelling, from the tale of George who used to hide a few fish under his hat when he worked on the docks and slip them past the guard, some might say that’s pinching, here in Hull we’d call it being resourceful.

Some of the group have worked during their lives, in some of the mainstay industries of the region: fishing, manufacturing, sports, the pub trade the steel plant across the water, sign-writing for Corporation buses… then there are a few who remember the air raids. One of the inferences that can be made behind the title of the exhibition is the idea of persevering and making it through. Those stories are brought to life by way of the recorded stories patty slappers, beetroot drillers and so much more.

Working life is expressed in different ways from drawings of the River Hull complete with barges and boats, to prints detailing the tools of a seamstress and rugby tradition, and some of the iconic buildings in a cityscape collage work.

Here are just a handful of the comments and feedback from visitors to the launch attended by family, carers and the Butterflies members.

‘ Well thought out way to display the work, shows what the group is all about in words and images. ‘ Linda Monday (Volunteer Fundraiser)

‘I like the prints and the chrysalis’

‘I’ve had a go and if you don’t try anything you won’t do anything, and if don’t do anything you are harming yourself, and if you are doing that you only have yourself to blame’ Cyril

‘It’s amazing what you can do and from nothing really…’

‘I did the Middleton Hall at the University and all the new maisonettes on Bransholme, they are knocking ‘em down now.’ John Builder in Hull

In one corner there’s a tearful reunion going on as old friends meet up after having lost touch almost a decade ago.

There’s been a steady stream of people all day and we are joined by reporters and photographers, from local press including BBC Face of Hull Kofi Smiles.

It’s about distraction, whether you’re singing a song or drawing a picture it doesn’t matter, it takes people away from the everyday struggles.

The Butterfly Effect project centres on the chrysalis, which is a metaphor for the transformative experience people can experience: June Cooke described the meaning behind the creation glowing quietly in the corner of the room.

‘People at the beginning of the project, having just had a diagnosis thinking what the hell is going to happen now, the statements titled Cocoon underline just how they felt at the time and then through support of the group a change occurs and people can see a way forward’ - like the butterfly emerging to begin a new stage in life.

‘What’s he doing coming from Leeds, when I can do sign writing and I already live here?’ seems some things never change.

‘During the air raids I had to go upstairs carry baby on one arm, eider down on the other and put them in the bath behind the stairs, then go up and fetch the other baby in my arms. Then stand by the door listening out for bombs.’ Iris

'I found the 'Hull, We Made It We Did' exhibition by Butterflies Memory Loss Support Group to be really thought provoking that challenged some of the stigma about dementia diagnosis and how easy it is to forget the person behind the label.' David Smith chief Executive Mind Hull and East Riding.

#adventurebeforedementia #thebutterflyeffect

article: Michelle Dee.
photographs: Jerome Whittingham, @photomoments

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Supported by Hull UK City of Culture 2017