A couple of years ago, I heard about this beautiful project that resonated with me in a big way. When I was twelve years old, I lost my grandmother to cancer. I think I was too young to fully comprehend it all, how could the hospital not sort it out? What did it mean to lose a loved one. It’s the only time I’ve seen my father cry and that’s the kind of moment that you never forget. It’s simply branded itself into the rest of my days. The times I spent drawing or playing with my grandmother were significant steps in shaping me as a person and as a professional.
The project I heard about was called ‘Memories’ and all proceeds raised from it are donated to Maggie’s Cancer Charity. I was honoured to be a part of Memories. I tracked down Garrick Webster, one of Memories’ creators, to talk about it. I still do not feel the project has received enough plaudits for such a vibrant example of how people can come together to create something so ethereally beautiful out of adversity.
Tell us about Memories, how did it get started and what were the motivations to do such a project?
Memories is a 172 page book that features 12 stories, each one about somebody who has battled with cancer. Half of the stories are memories about people who have lost their battle with cancer, the other half were about survivors. For each story there are 12 illustrations – these were done by top designers, illustrators and artists.
There were four of us who drove the project – Rishi Sodha of 2Creatives and Designers Against Human Rights Abuse, Antony Kitson of Oneteneleven media, and Stuart Boyd of Subism. We all had personal reasons for wanting to do a project for a cancer charity and Rishi brought us all together. My own reason is that my father died of a brain tumour in 2008.
How can people connect with the project?
Lots of ways – we’re on Twitter as @memoriesbook and we’re on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/MemoriesBookProject. And we have a blog at www.memories-book.co.uk. We first had to build some momentum for the project and recruit 144 illustrators, and brief them all, which was a massive job, as was chasing all the artworks!
We also had to work hard to get a paper sponsor and a printer as we had zero money. We were lucky enough to connect with Robert Horne, and with Taylor Bloxham respectively. These companies made the beautifully printed book possible.
The book is a fabulous way to bring people together over a common cause, have you found that the arts provide a place for people to empower themselves through creativity?
Yes definitely. We had poets and other creative writers involved, as well as all the designers and illustrators. Everyone relished the challenge of working on a project that had so much personal meaning. It was not to shed a tear with each story and each visual response to it. Some of the work will certainly blow you away. Also, a lot of our contributors though very creative in their day jobs, found it was a brilliant opportunity to try something different, change gear, or approach things in a new way. When you’re doing something, as part of a big project, entirely for a charity that is going to help people (in our case Maggie’s) there is a good feeling. It feels much easier than ‘work’.
Where can people grab a copy?
People can grab a copy on our website at http://www.memories-book.co.uk, or just go into one of the twelve or so Maggie’s Centres around the country and ask for one. They’re only £10 plus P+P and every penny of that £10 overprice goes directly to the charity.