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The Grange Day Centre
Newburn Road
NE15 9AF
Telephone: 0191 2673728 (option 1)
Fax: 0191 2290503

© Grange Arts 2014
Grange Day Centre Limited is a company registered in England & Wales. Company number 02916458.
Registered charity number 1058445. 

Creative Writing

Writers in residence

We were invited to share the post of writer in residence in May 2001, and our first impression of the Grange was of walls covered with paintings, testament to the wealth of arts activity always encouraged here. The (not surprising) initial response of ‘I can’t do that’ is gently persuaded by ‘why not have a go?

We worked out ways of including everyone in some writing activities, like the Postcards from the Grange, and focusing down one to one in others, as we drew round hands and talked and wrote. We established a writing group of keen regulars, overcoming physical problems with writing for some, and memory problems for others by providing stimulus for beginnings, prompting with questions, and writing on behalf of people where necessary.

Often we would just sit and listen, and scribble hard, as people told us fascinating life stories. We can’t possibly include everything that has been generated by this project, but we’ve tried give as wide a selection as possible. We have enjoyed getting to know the staff and regulars at the Grange, and hope you get to know them a bit better through some of the pieces in this book.

Joan Johnston and Ellen Phethean

Six Months

That first morning in July 2001 I sat on the wall outside and watched some of you arriving at The Grange. It was like watching a ceremony; a slow dignified procession. The sun was shining. I wondered how I’d ever get to know you all. On my last day, in December, I deliberately slipped out when no one was looking. It felt impossible to say goodbye to each one of you. When I got outside the cold air took my breath away; it made my eyes water.

During the six months in between, I got to know many of you quite well. Some of you hardly at all, except for a smile or a brief ‘hello’. Looking back on this residency is like looking at a collage – pictures from your lives are stuck down very firmly in my mind. Many of them overlap. And this huge collage is framed by the colours, sounds, tastes, words, fragrances and textures of your past, your present and your future.

You shared so many stories with me, and many feelings. You were always honest, thoughtful, exact. No messing about! I remember your laughter. And you were trusting. You trusted me enough to talk and write openly about yourselves. For that I am very grateful.

Joan Johnston

Supported by:

Kellet Fund at Community Foundation and Newcastle City Council Arts Development Team.

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