Jaqui's Daily Blog

An Arty Afternoon in the Village Hall

I am waiting outside the Village Hall for my friend Marion who has the key. Our meeting is not due to start for another quarter of an hour but it’s something I’ve noticed about the senior generation: they – we – always turn up early. There are quite a few people gathering in the car park already and looking for somebody who appears to be in charge. That’ll be me, then.


I haven’t parked in the car park at the Village Hall, but along the road opposite.  Someone at some time in the recent past has driven their car into the rather beautiful flint wall of the car park and knocked it down. There is a lot of yellow hazard tape threaded across the damaged wall like a necklace marking out the potential danger to the unwitting.  It is a very visible warning to those of us who don’t like parking in small spaces not to attempt to park there. Hence my sensible decision to park in a side road.


Marion arrives with the key and opens up.  The hall feels cold and unwelcoming. We investigate along a sloping corridor and find the small room which we have booked for the afternoon at the princely sum of £8 an hour.  Someone explores further and finds out that there is no light in the nearest loo. We do what anyone would do in such less than salubrious circumstances. We put the kettle on.


When I say I am in charge, what I mean is that I am one of three of us in charge.  We are a self-selected triumvirate (for want of a better word) leading our U3A branch’s contribution to something called The Sun Project.  Today’s meeting is to bring together all the people who have volunteered to make a collage, write a poem, paint, crochet, knit, embroider or any other artistic endeavour as a contribution to the project – a Celebration of the South Downs.  Our Leading Light, Pam, has come up with the brilliant idea of creating wooden “postcards” of places our Questers group has visited over the last two years or so, to be displayed at the SUN exhibition under the title of “Wish You were here.” Sheer genius.


We locate some folding tables and set them up in the hall along with twelve chairs of varying degrees of comfort.  Pam produces chocolate digestive biscuits, cups of tea and coffee emerge from the kitchen. Suddenly there is lots of chat and laughter. We all introduce ourselves.  The hall seems warmer, somehow, much more welcoming. Maybe the afternoon will turn out alright, after all.


Pam whispers to me to take minutes of the meeting which is a bit of a problem as I haven’t had the foresight to bring along a notebook.  Pam finds two pieces of scrap paper and I scrabble in my bag for a pen.  I pass one of the pieces of paper round the table to capture everybody’s name as I am sure to get someone‘s name wrong if I rely on my memory.  They will be very brief notes, I decide, arbitrarily.  Everyone is talking at once and it’s not going to be easy to provide a full and accurate record. I shall apply a large helping of journalistic licence.


When we first started off on this project we were a bit worried that nobody would volunteer.  So it’s truly splendid to see that no fewer than twelve “postcards” have already been completed and they are, quite simply, stunning. Everyone is inspired just at the sight of them.  I have brought my camera long and take a photograph of everyone holding up the “postcards” and beaming with pride.  Hopefully I managed to hold the camera steady while I snapped away...


Each wooden “postcard” will eventually have a short poem or descriptive piece of prose written on the back, with a real stamp affixed for a touch of authenticity.  At our next meeting we shall have to decide how best to display them at the exhibition – which is not until July next year so we have plenty of time to argue over everyone’s different ideas.


After an entertaining and productive hour, our artists wander off home. I wash up the cups and saucers in the tiny kitchen and start to worry about my own contribution which is to somehow depict the costume collection at Worthing Museum on my “postcard.” Pam says it will be easy peasy, all I need to do is to create a background of different pieces of material and slap a small photo of the group which visited the museum on top (see the photo illustrating today's blog.)  It sounds simple, the way she describes it. Then I think of Roland’s evocative painting of High Salvington Windmill, Sybille’s floral tribute to West Dean Gardens, Avril’s vibrant “Flowers of Sussex” and despair.


I can take the Minutes of the meeting; I’m a dab hand at washing up.  It’s the arty crafty bit that’s worrying me...

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Liz | Reply 22.11.2013 21:19

Looks more like Worthing Museum than a village hall Jaqui

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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