Monday, 2 July 2012

Home Is Where the Art Is ...

You don't, when you're a child, choose the place where you live. It's the dust you want to cast off your feet when you leave, but if, like me, you spent your first 18 years living in the same small town and your parents live there still, it never really stops being home however far away you move.

And I didn't move very far in the end, just about three miles. Regular visits with the children to Grandma's are generally accompanied by me pointing out "where mummy went to school""where mummy used to live" and "where mummy first threw up in an alcohol-related incident," none of which has ever threatened to interest the little buggers at all. It's just the place where Grandma and Granddad live and the town's attractions lie solely within their four walls and, more specifically, in the cake tin therein.

Ossett, near Wakefield, is almost exactly in the middle of the east and west coasts of England. It's been a mining town, a mill town and, for a brief optimistic period in the 19th century, a Spa town. It's most notable sons are the novelist Stan Barstow and the pop group combo *cough* Black Lace.

The town motto "Inutile utile ex arte," or "That which is useless is made useful by skill" recalls the town's heyday as a recycling centre for wool in the 19th and 20th century, making Mungo and Shoddy (differing qualities of reclaimed wool) for use in cloth and felt mills.

It's the motto and Ossett's place in the history of wool that inspired Flock to Ossett, a community-based arts, ukulele, yarn-bombing and, um, sheep parade event in the town centre held at the weekend. Driven by one-woman dynamo and ukulele-toting songstress Jacqui Wicks, Flock to Ossett fired the imaginations of not just the Arts Council but local schools, businesses and the town's residents too.

It also fired the family's imaginations. My mum, a woman who usually only reaches for the knitting needles under threat of an imminent birth, has been knitting and crocheting away to add to the yarn-bombing. We also, several weeks ago, spent a happy afternoon helping to decorate a sheep, yes really, with the Third Girl and The Boy. Though me and my mum did most of the work if we're honest.

Excellent sheep decorating skills aside, I can't and don't knit much, or well, or often, so I donated one of the children's old bikes to make up for it. Like you do.

So on Saturday, I took my flock and we flocked to Ossett for the first ever Flock to Ossett. And, on the basis of every picture tells a story. This is what we saw.....

And we visited our formerly old rusty bike to find it utterly, and rather surprisingly, transformed into a really beautiful work of art

And, of course, the kids all joined in the sheep parade with the family sheep, Lolly. EVEN the kids who were far too cool to do anything so infra-dig as parade around with a load of sheep *eye roll*

"Oh God, do I have to? As if I'm going to carry a sheep in a parade..."

Maybe if I'd seen the Ossett I saw on Saturday when I was a child, I might never have wanted to leave. I might have also thought I'll have to stop taking the LSD, because the old home town was just not the same; it was bright, it was colourful, it was happy, it was exciting and it made me proud to be just a tiny part of it.

And thanks to Flock to Ossett my home town now means that little bit more to both me and the kids than just That Place Where Grandma Lives. We'll be back because, well, we were always going to be (got to visit the grandparents when they're getting on a bit *ducks*) but we'll enjoy it and appreciate it much more than we ever did before.

Love your town


  1. I'm from Leeds, so I know that area quite well -looks like you had a great day out, and the photos are fab - that bike is amazing!

  2. I have never been to a Flock. It looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for linking up! x

  3. Looks like a great day!
    New follower via blow your own blog horn link up :-)


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