Sue Gill co-founded the legendary celebratory arts company, Welfare State International, with John Fox and others in 1968. More than fifty years later, she has taken to the page to offer glimpses of what life was like on the road with WSI, as well, and as importantly, what she has been doing since the company was archived in 2006. Ancestral memories, traveller’s tales, fieldwork, family life, feasting and ceremony – all have their place in this eclectic collection of stories. Taken together they create a vivid picture of an industrious and contented life, a portrait of a woman who values the extraordinary in the everyday, who loves and celebrates her family and friends and her own very particular place in the world.
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What comes across strongly is the women. I love the swimming backstroke back to memory and family and time. I love the writing about nature and the description of walks, I can see Solomon Redhead, the tripe shop, the chalet, the small waiting red headed girl that is surprised by the sound of the wind when she can hear better. It all reads so beautifully and creates images in my head. It’s a triumph and I love it.
I am going to take up the art of “Trying on a frown.”
Annamaria Murphy writer BBC Radio4 drama Curious Under the Stars, storyteller, walker on Roads Less Travelled in Cornwall.
Your book is wonderful – literally full of wonders. How often your story is entwined with those with whom you have shared your life, your extraordinary life and its treasures.
François Matarasso writer, researcher, consultant in socially engaged arts practice.
Sue Gill has the patient quality of being there at the centre,
invisibly linking a host of jostling forces and holding things together.
Roger Coleman Professor Emeritus, Royal College of Art
This is a beautiful, inspiring, funny and important book. It has structure and enormous heart and speaks to an exceptional life lived, attending to the ordinary and the everyday with wonder and a handy bag of rice. It ends with a glorious bedtime story. The world needs to hear this tinkling, wise, delicious voice.
Jools Gilson Professor of Creative Practice, University College Cork.