Stories of Stuff is a project and methodology developed by The Writers’ Block that sheds light on the narratives woven into our everyday objects and the places we live. From Redruth to Liskeard to Devonport, Stories of Stuff captures stories of communities as well as providing mentoring for emerging writers in the art of story gathering.

In Redruth, after attending a Writers’ Room with lead writer Annamaria Murphy, writers Sarah Connors, Keith Sparrow, Felicity Tattersall, and Mark Crees delved into the stories behind cherished possessions. Engaging with local groups such as Shallal Inclusive Dance theatre, Coastline Housing and individuals from shops and cafes, writers captured tales inspired by treasured objects. The resulting stories, alongside photographs of the individuals and the objects, were exhibited in a beautiful story cabinet showcased at Kresen Kernow and told back to people through a performance by The Story Republic. Following this project, The Writers’ Block created a publication, The Redruth Story Book, collating the huge variety of story projects in our town, and celebrating its heritage, its community and its future.

In Liskeard, Liz Berg, Joshua Edwards, P.T. McAllister, Cheryl Nosworthy, and Shelley Trower collaborated with cultural hubs and community groups such as Liskeard Library, Liskeard Museum and the Liskerrett Centre to uncover and preserve unique narratives of Liskeard’s residents. There was a particular focus on working with health related community groups, giving participants the opportunity to be part of community activity beyond their health condition. The stories were shared through printed postcards and the exhibition case at Liskeard Library displayed the stories alongside illustrations and objects. With pop-up performances by The Story Republic, these tales echoed through Liskeard’s streets.

Feedback from the group leaders and participants demonstrated that the project had increased their connection with the local community.

‘Our group felt a sense of pride about their work and ideas being witnessed and respected and placed within a wider context.’ Lois Taylor, Shallal Inclusive Dance

‘The [Next Steps Stroke] group have said they very much enjoyed the experience and I feel honoured that they have entrusted me with precious objects that they are willing to have displayed to accompany the stories. One example is a 100 year old lace veil!’ Nell Turner, Emerging Writer

In Devonport, emerging writers Jon Nash, Jane Spurr, Aurora Hunt and Sacha Cvetsanovic collaborated with Anna to explore Devonport as part of their Writers’ Room, in partnership with Real Ideas. As well as stories inspired by Navy walls, shipping containers and black eyes, they collected footage of the area with 3D cameras. This imagery accompanied their sharing in Devonport Market Hall Immersive Dome.

The legacy of the projects continue in exhibitions, performance repertoire for The Story Republic, and the opportunities that arose for the emerging writers. Several community groups in Liskeard have continued their relationships with the writers. Liskeard Library has created Writer in Residence position directly inspired by our project. The writers have all made new connections with each other and their communities, and have new skills to share.

‘[Anna’s approach] gave ways of working with the stories collected to create newly visioned pieces, whilst staying true to the heart of the story, respecting the instigator of the story- the community member.’

Stories of Stuff celebrates more than just objects; it honours people, memories and celebrates community and the power of storytelling in small forms.

With thanks to the funders who have supported these projects and their development: Arts Council England, Feast, Redruth Town Council, Liskeard Town Council.