MIF's Festival in My House initiative offers Manchester residents the chance to present their very own micro-international festival in their own home.
For the fourth edition, Estelle Longmore invited family and fellow residents of Cosgrove Hall Court retirement village in Chorlton to celebrate the lives, stories and creative interests of the residents through poetry, song, performance and art. Here, Estelle talks us through the creative process:
'Three of us put our heads together and listed the cultural events that happen in Cosgrove Hall Court and how the international aspects could be fulfilled by our multicultural population. From these lists, it seemed that we might have a plan.
Leading a group of people while planning something that none of us had ever done before was daunting and does not make for popularity. We were five, then seven people, all over 60. We had carried out various careers and functions in our lives and all knew how we wanted the event to be. That was seven different ideas that had to be brought together into a cohesive one.
It had been suggested that local artists could be involved to assist and encourage us in various ways. One helped with the performance aspects, one with the exhibition and one led a workshop that produced some interesting written work for display and performance. This was an enlightening experience, working with people half our age with different skills and expertise who would help us to make the most of ours.
Cosgrove Hall consists of a large lounge, an entrance hall and two long winding corridors on the ground floor that could be utilised. As the day was warm and sunny we could also use an outside terrace for refreshments. We had between us interviewed all the residents and ascertained what skills there were to be utilized and what artefacts could be exhibited. We were overwhelmed by the response. Over 60 of us came together to enjoy each other's company, skills, performance, arts and achievements.
When the day of the Festival came, over 200 people ' residents, family and friends ' had an exhilarating experience. We fed everyone, sang to them, played music to them, read poetry, showed them how we exercise (and asked them to join in) as well as inviting them to view the exhibits of painting, photography, handicrafts, professional histories, interesting collections, certificates, medals and photographs of us all when we were young!
Our intention had been to show the world, or at least part of it, that just because we are over 60 we are still alive and interested in artistic and cultural events. Our lives here are never dull and are often illustrated by our skills and joy of living.'