Last week I made a visit to Manchester for a variety of art related events, and ended up spending most of my time in Salford. As I waited for entry into the exhibition at ArtWork Atelier, I got talking to a woman who was also waiting to see the exhibition. It turned out that I was talking to Claire Hignett, an artist with a studio at Islington Mill who had also intended to attend the NewBridge Project/Islington Mill weekend event earlier in the year. Claire kindly offered to show me around Islington Mill (see earlier blog post) http://helenshaddock.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/islington-mill.html and introduce me to her work.
"I am fascinated by the effect time has on memory. How memories start to fragment and merge with others. How, as we move through time and gather new experiences, our perception of our memories changes. I am particularly intrigued by the way we attach memory to objects and how we keep things that are broken, useless or were cherished by someone else to try and hold on to our memories and to stop them fragmenting any more."
In 2012 Claire began working on a project "to find out more about a group of Basque refugee children who came to Salford following the bombing of Guernica during the Spanish Civil War."
In June 1937, 4000 Basque children arrived in Southampton as refugees and were dispersed around the country in “colonies”. One of these colonies was in Salford at Harold’s Memorial Orphanage, now demolished but only five minutes walk from Claire's current home, and they were taught at the Local Quaker Meeting House, now a British Legion building just a little further on. Claire mentioned the children to her friend’s Mum (age 83) and she was delighted to be asked. She remembered being 9 years old and leaving hospital after a bout of mumps. She went with her friends to look at the refugees because “we thought they would be exotic but [we] were dead disappointed because they looked just like us!”
Claire is in the process of preparing for her exhibition at Ordsall Hall from July 18th to 24th September 2017. Her exhibition will be based on the story of the Basque Children in Salford. "Finding stories in old newspapers and talking to people who still remember them, she will create the exhibition to tell this hidden story."
While in her studio at Islington Mill I saw some of the work that she has been developing for the exhibition, and I look forward to going to see the end result in the Summer.
For more about Claire's work visit her website:
and her blog: