I came to live in Haslingden in 1966 because my teacher at art school, Dave Pearson, lived there. I immediately liked it – very much. From the age of 9 I had lived in Stevenage, a New Town where almost everything was new, and clean, and at right angles. I loved the messiness and wild character of Haslingden.
Later, when I had my own cottage just outside of the town I went back to the south for a year to do an MA in London. But I would often drive up over night to stay for weekends, and find myself travelling through Haslingden in the early hours of the morning. I remember the queues of Asian men at the bus-stops. At this time the Asian community were almost invisible in the area and, although I knew immediately that this was the night-shift from the failing cotton mills, I felt surprised, and so I wondered what it must be like for these men to live this odd nocturnal life, living and working in the shadows, far from their homeland.
Now the Asian community in Haslingden is busy, confident and highly visible, in fact the only new businesses opening in the town seem to be Asian owned. My neighbours at Dave Pearson’s old studio are Asian families, and I pass pleasantries with the old men on their way to and from the mosque. Still, I wonder about the stories of how their families arrived in the town 40 or more years ago.
The young children of the Asian families now speak English as a first language, and naturally have their own concerns. This is certainly their homeland.
Different Moons is an opportunity for me to find out more about those late-night bus queues, but far more importantly I hope that it will be a way for today’s school generation to connect with their parents or grandparents stories and their memories. Across the generations and perhaps across and between different languages.
This is a project currently unfolding.
For a wonderful link to quotes about the moon go to this link.
“A big moon – for a small town”.