Check out the Youtube Videos we made with clients from North Yorkshire Horizons here.
'There's no smoke without fire' runs the old adage, and we may take it to mean that a grain of truth often underpins even the most flimsy assertion. However hard a novelist may strive to hide behind a narrative's drama, some of his or her persona will colour the words. The driving hand reveals storyteller as aspirant, as idealist or as pessimist. There may be no connection between Charlotte Brontë and Jane Eyre, but the polemical agenda of the writer's text shows Charlotte as hopeful, independent, even feminist, long before it became a serious aspiration. There can be no fundamental separation between storyteller and her story because they fill the same blank page.
Even tellers of ancient myths and fables often do so with one eye on the possibility of re-invention: modern landscapes, the storyteller's own contextual experience, demand new interpretations and meanings.
But it is also possible to be a storyteller of the personal, to be a witness to one's own life. Here, if the autobiographer is being truthful, may be a conduit towards what the Greeks called Katharsis, a coming to terms with the darker elements of experience through sustained exposure. And here also, the 'smoke' is the direct outpouring of the 'fire'.
A life lived on the edge is no less worthy of investigation than any other, and in some instances, may be more so. The extremity of personal circumstance, related as a life-narrative, may be harrowing to hear or read but it serves to raise awareness of, and sharpen empathy in, those of us who are, to paraphrase Wordsworth, recollecting our reflections on suffering in the easy tranquillity of our own homes.
At Settle Stories, we aim to encourage the sharing of life stories through artistic engagement in order to provide lasting benefits for those who have found themselves to be socially marginalised. In partnership with our local branch of North Yorkshire Horizons (drug & alcohol recovery service), and with invaluable financial contributions from Santander bank and Settle Town Council, we have helped to give a voice and a constructive creative outlet to those who might otherwise be silent. North Yorkshire Horizons' Settle & Skipton branch, run and organised by Simon Booth offers much-needed rehabilitative help and counselling to sufferers of alcohol and drug dependency, and with the practical assistance of Settle Stories, has developed an Arts-orientated program for many of its clients. Over the course of 8 weeks, members of the group began to tell their story using the art of stop motion animation. These were then shown at our recent Festival of Happiness. You can check out these films on our youtube account.
We are justifiably proud of the success that the partnership has achieved and acknowledge a huge debt to Virpi Kettu, our world-renowned animation guru, for help in setting up and teaching free animation courses to users of North Yorkshire Horizons' service. That success has been nothing short of astonishing: encouraged to explore and describe the experience of dependency and rehabilitation through the medium of film-making, clients such as Alisa and Jason, among several others, give testimony to the benefits of creativity in renditions of their own work.
'Animation was lots of fun and Virpi was understanding, patient and informative. Best group activity we've attended so far'
When asked what the best bits about the workshop were, one participant answered:
'Creating something and seeing an end result and feeling supported through it'
Alongside enabling a process of mental re-focussing, Virpi's expert tuition yields a range of new animation and IT skills which will help facilitate a constructive road to recovery. Above all, the fruit of people like Jason and Alisa's efforts relate a story of a 'new beginning', which, incidentally, is the apt title of one of the wonderful films the group have created.
Settle Stories will continue its commitment to community inclusivity indefinitely, but in the meantime it is especially rewarding to note the success of our involvement in tangible terms. It is good to see real progress in recovery, and we are proud to have recently helped find voluntary work at Skipton library for at least one client of North Yorkshire Horizons.
Long may such successes thrive ! If you are a member of a community group that could benefit from arts participation to make a real difference then get in touch. We love to collaborate.
Alternatively if you want to help us make a real difference with the arts and storytelling, please make a donation to help our work continue to thrive.