Friendship is a Sheltering Tree.
July 07 2016
The Nicholas Road Quads, Irthlinghborough
It takes a long time to grow an old friend. ~John Leonard
Recently I was commissioned to make four new cross designs to celebrate the life of a group of friends in our town, Irthlingborough. Doreen, Mary, Ann and Pam were all born within weeks of each other in 1938 at neighbouring houses on Nicholas Road. They were named the Nicholas Road 'quads' by the nurse that delivered them all, and this was the start of their life long friendship.
They enjoyed a wonderful childhood playing in the fields, jumping the brooks, chasing rabbits, listening to birds and collecting frog spawn; they shared many happy memories growing up together and the three remaining quads: Doreen, Mary and Pam, are still friends today.
To make these crosses I asked Doreen to write about her friends and the memories she wanted to celebrate in the designs and when this was done I printed the words out in colour and used them to collage the ideas and imagery together. Each cross reflects both a shared memory and something individual to each of the 'quads'.
The first cross showing the toy horse was made for Mary: the four of them had an argument over this toy, owned by Mary when they were very young. (There is photograph of them as children on the back.) The second cross showing a milk churn was given to Pam, as her father had the milk round. The third cross shows a frog on the front to as a reminder of the days that the girls used to spend collecting frogspawn, and on the back, the group together at sixty years old. This cross was was given to Pete, Ann's husband, as she passed away a few years ago. Finally, the last cross, for Doreen, shows the local church, St. Peters, and a photograph of Nicholas Road, the street the girls knew so well.
I like friends who, when you tell them you need a moment alone, know enough not to stray too far. ~Robert Brault
We all value our friends and know that when we need them they will always be around to simply listen to our concerns and also share the happy times. Here are some facts about friendship:
- There is specific, scientific criteria for a good friendship including, having common interests, history or shared experiences, common values and equality or giving support to each other on a consistent basis.
- What makes a friend worthy of the name? A commitment to your happiness is a sure sign of a true friend. When someone is consistently willing to put your happiness before your friendship.
- Not asking you to place the friendship before your principles. A true friend won't ask you to compromise your principles in the name of your friendship or anything else. Ever.
- A good influence. A true friend inspires you to live up to your best potential, not to indulge your basest drives.
A lot of my closest friends are those ones whom I have known for a long time. Even though I don't see as much of them as I would like, I know they are there when I need them. One friend lives far away in Canada and another in the next town.
One friend once said to me, "through everything, you have always been there". That stuck in mind as being a great testament to a strong friendship.
It gave me so much joy to make these crosses because it reminded me of how important our friendships are and how we can make each others lives so rich. As an artist it is a wonderful challenge to re-create a persons story through an artwork. But, importantly Doreen is a good friend of mine too, and making art is about giving and sharing how we see the world, with others.
I am always looking for the next artwork to create and story to tell and love to make portraits too.
Check out my other crosses here.
See how I used words to create a portrait for the Nieman Foundation at Harvard University here too