Love Letter to Macclesfield – June 2016 – Oct 2021
“Where is the heart of a town to be found? Is it in its history, a point on the map, or in the people; their memories and experience? Or is it in the power of places to inspire, to enable us to imagine something else beneath its surface, between its layers and beyond its skyline.”
A Love Letter to Macc is one of our favourite and most popular projects! Back in 2016 Arc worked with Macclesfield’s Barnaby Festival, inviting people to write a love letter to the heart of their town and share what they love about where they live. Over a weekend in June over 300 people of all ages joined us in our ‘dome’ in Sparrow Park.
In total 179 love letters were written in the park over the 2 days, plus 140 written by pupils of Rainow Primary School, via the project’s blog and at the festival’s Brewing Culture event.
The letters told stories of love and heartbreak, of arrival, significant meetings, connections to parks, hills, streets. People described how the town had affected their lives and their family, of their sense of ‘home’ and of their own changing relationships to the town. Some were in Macclesfield for the day, others had lived there all their lives.
The communal Love Letter to Macc was compiled by Jacqui Wood, Arc’s Artistic Director and long time resident of the town, and stitched together many of the words, phrases and stories shared that weekend, celebrating the qualities which make this town so special.
A version of the Love Letter printed on silk has been on view in Macclesfield Library. It has also featured in windows in the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, at the Treacle Market and on greetings cards. However in October 2021, selected lines from the piece were written in to the fabric of the town, in kerbstones on Castle Street, part of a major public realm project by Cheshire East Council.
Jacqui Wood said, ”This makes me so proud. To see something grow from a simple idea, to genuinely connect with many people and still be relevant and inspiring so many years later is just wonderful.”
“Love Letter to Macc really captured the imagination of festival-goers at Barnaby 2016. Everyone I spoke to seemed to have written a letter – a simple sentence perhaps, a thought, a remembrance, but something special. Something significant to them.”
“The Love Letter to Macc project is inspiring in its simplicity – and its all-round effectiveness. From entering the calm of the Dome in Sparrow Park to look at all of the letters already produced during a hot, buzzing festival weekend, to hearing from participants in Brewing Culture who also got to tell their love stories of Macclesfield, to reading the final poem, the project demonstrates how to deliver a process which engaged a wide range of people in thoughtful, creative and expressive activities with a lightness of touch and good humour, without condescending.”
- The Barnaby Team – staff including Festival Director Karl Wallace, Co-ordinator Dan Williamson, all the volunteers and the Trustees
- Alison Smart at R A Smart textile printers
- Julie Bullock, Macclesfield Library
- Diana Hamilton, The Print Mill
- Dr. Abigail Gilmore, Manchester University
- Matthew Gratton-Cash and all the staff at Rainow Primary School