Short stories in an old mill

Buttons galore

A sweet tin, a tarnished medal, a video tape, a faded old photograph, an old firestone and buttons galore. Sounds like junk, maybe, but to their owners, they are little treasures, part of the story of their lives.

Musical memory

These everyday objects and their stories were collected by artists Jane Morland and Phil Moody for the I Love West Leeds Arts Festival’s Objects and Curious Tales installation in a disused part of Sunny Bank Mill, Farsley.

There were stories within stories as Jane and Phil spoke to local people, visited local schools and interviewed the mill owners, William and John Gaunt, who told how the former 19th century textile mill went from boom to bust to boom to bust to rebirth as a 21st century business centre.

The voices were recorded and objects or their photographs placed in an upstairs room at the mill, displayed side by side with artifacts from the mill itself, including the old boardroom table, which had witnessed many dramas over the years.

Hang on, lads. I've got a great idea!

The objects and their stories made a script for Jane and Phil to perform, watched by many of the local people who had told their tales including the Gaunts who heard their own words tell the story of the mill and its former glory.

It was a very moving experience, hearing ordinary and extraordinary snippets from people’s lives. The setting of the mill made it somehow all the more touching, maybe it was the old stone walls maybe it was the creaky old wooden floor, or the flaking paint on the window frames, of the light crisscrossing the room. Whatever it was, everyone felt it and went away feeling somehow richer and wondering what story we would tell and which object we would bring.


Spotty button


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  2. Louise Calvert · July 18, 2011

    A lovely idea. The buttons caught my eye on my blog feed, and I thought immediately of my childhood. Everyone’s grandma had a button tin, didn’t they?!

    I love the idea of coming together to share treasures in this sort of way. Sounds like a great event.


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