This time next week the exhibition will be here! After months of planning, the dream is finally becoming reality, and over 300 hearts of all colours, shapes and sizes will be suspended from the ceiling for the general public to come and view, enjoy and buy.
Some of the heartfelts we have received have been about the actual process of making the hearts themselves: some people seem to have really enjoyed the creation of something physical, perhaps because generally people do not have time to make things. Perhaps we all need to take some time out of our busy lives to sit down with paper and glue, and really put some effort into making something with our hands.
"I would like my creativity to grow into paid work and for me to trust the process. I would like work to become more project-based and I’d like to feel happier and more alive and feel more integrated in my community."
"Your project brought back memories of the many valentines cards my husband and I made and bought each other. I kept some of them, but right now cannot remember where i put them."
"The sun’s shining, there’s music playing and I feel so much better for making this heart- there’s so much in it.
The idea of the heartfelt project is to think of a moment in your life, that, for whatever reason, was particularly powerful and ‘heart felt’. For some, it is a moment from years ago, in childhood, when something happened that they have never been able to forget; for others, it is just a sudden thought that hits from seemingly nowhere, and perhaps makes them think differently for the rest of their life. Here are some of the anecdotal heartfelts we have received.
"I was thinking about how people unwittingly share in and intertwine in others’ lives. How we are often, almost unconsciously, touched by others and how that shapes us in becoming human. The moments can be as transitory as a smile from a stranger, or it could be a lasting refrain that speaks to us in friendship and love. However it comes, it is priceless."
"I love it when I get something from the treat box."
"This is for all the boys at the Duke of York School in Nairobi in 1956, who named me ‘Belle of the Ball’ at the annual inter-school 6th form dance. Who would have thought this astonishing event could have launched a painfully shy, plain girl on her first shaky step towards a degree of self-confidence. Perhaps the home-made dress and carefully pin-curled hair had something to do with it! Thanks boys."
A theme which some hearts have been very passionate about is faith and religion- often the stories are about a time when faith was severely tested, or about the first time an individual realised they had faith. For anyone who is not religious, it is very interesting to read the stories, and hear about a love between a person and their God that is incredibly strong.
"My daughter and her husband were overjoyed, when after eleven years of marriage, it was confirmed she was pregnant. The pregnancy went well, but when she went into labour the midwife advised a hospital birth because she felt unsettled, and so the advice was taken. Our son-in-law promised to ring my wife and I as soon as he had news and so we waite. Both my wife and I are Christians and so we prayed and waited. Four days later we were still waiting, our prayers were frantic and my faith minimal. Just after midnight on the 17th of October, as I prayed a wonderful feeling of confidence, peace, elation and praise came over me, and I told my wife all was well, ten minutes later our son-in-law rang and confirmed that our beautiful grandson had been born. This was a moment full of tension, worry, and apprehension, of joy, grattitude and praise. Thanks giving to Almighty God.”
"The most heartfelt decision I ever made was in April 1957 when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour. Being a Christian is a terrific wonderful journey and I am still on the journey, a work in progress. Be still and know that I am God Psalm 46, verse 10 The Bible.”
Last week, a group of 20 girls aged between 10 and 14 made hearts, with their happy memories written on them. Some of their memories were lovely, and they all got very creative, making the hearts in any size, shape, style they wanted. A huge amount of glitter, paper, paint, sticking, glueing and drawing was involved: here are a selection of the final results.
"The moment I realized that your ‘imperfections’ are what make you SPECIAL."
"My heart represents :
Times in Markeaton Park with my Grampa (who I liked to call Barry). I was about six and bought me a lager and lime ice lolly and told me not to get drunk. It wasn’t the best joke but I wish I could hear it again…”
Some of the hearts we have received focus on one particular individual, often as a memorial or tribute to them, because they are special to the person who has made the heart. How the person is portrayed in these hearts is diverse but very touching- I wonder how many of them know they are the subject of a Heartfelt Moment?!
"This is for Anthony, with whom I fell silently and hopelessly in love at the age of eight, but who only had eyes for Veronica, a fat, waddling girl with dark hair who brought Licquorice Allsorts to school to hide in his desk."
"Pop was my paternal grandfather. He was a Welsh miner with a wicked sense of fun, who grew wonderful dahlias in his garden and vegetables on his allotment. My parents, my brother and I lived with my grandparents, and when my father died when I was five Pop said ‘they’re my children now,’ and he cared for us as if we were. However his years down the mines ruined his health and at 67, when I was 10, he was hospitalised with pneumoconiosis which induced tuberculosis. As a result my brother and I were not allowed to visit him. He died without us ever seeing him again."
"How my heart felt when my sister sent her heart felt on my seventy fifth birthday. If I searched the world, I could never find a better sister. You are a perfect example of sisterly loving and caring and compassion and concern. Just talking to you can make me feel better, and being with you reminds me of the most important things in my life. Knowing that I have a sister like you is a gift of family and friendship wrapped up in love!"
Some of the stories on the hearts are very touching, because they are secret tales which the author has never shared before- perhaps because they are very personal, or because they go against the accepted, socially correct response to a certain event. To reveal the truth and go against the grain is very brave.
"The pilot and I were briefed to fly out to the West over the Indian Ocean to find and report on an alleged hurricane. The flight started badly. I was not familiar with the aircraft and had not set the compass correctly. As a result we flew off in the wrong direction! Soon we were heading in the right direction and I could already see the echo of the storm’s centre on the radar. We flew at 3000 feet into the eye of the hurricane, and the pilot was reporting back to the carrier, ‘Tremendous, confused seas.’ Suddenly the radar screen went black, the engine noise died and the aircraft’s nose dipped. I knew immediately that we would not stand a chance in the boiling maelstrom sea below. In those few seconds I thought of my lovely wife and two children, one I had only seen for ten minutes during a mail run. Then the engine coughed, spluttered and finally roared back into life. The radar screen revived. The pilot had run a petrol tank dry and then switched to another tank. We returned to the carrier chastened."
"45 years ago when I had my first child I was so naive that I didn’t every think about my baby being anything but perfect. However, working with physically handicapped children several of whom were the second born child of twins left me in no doubt of the many things that could go wrong. So when my daughter told me that she was pregnant with my first grandchild I was worried until my grandson was born without problems- then like all grandmas my joy knew no bounds.
Two years later when my daughter told me she was again pregnant I was so happy but then when her first scan showed she was expecting twins my joy turned to horror and fear which I hoped that I concealed. Thankfully all of my worried proved to be unfounded and I count myself to be so lucky to be able to enjoy two beautiful granddaughters along with my grandson.”
"After 28 years of supressing rage and bottling up thwarted desires, I find myself suddenly adrift. I have fought for this time, this freedom, and now I don’t know what to do with it. Can’t retrieve the ambitions that I held so strongly because I buried them too deeply over time. I have become so used to the dull ache and inertia of depression that I can’t find the spark I need to re-energise myself. So used to the frustration and derision that I dare not trust my goals- won’t give them commitment in case they fail. And so I fill my life with ‘vital’ chores and helpfulness, taking on other people’s angst and responsibilities so that I don’t have to face my own."
"I have come to dread visiting my mother. We have always shared a very close and loving relationship until dementia took her away from me. Communicating with each other is so difficult now that her hearing and memory are so poor. She has no interests- no longer wants to listen to music or the radio, read or watch T.V. I can do nothing to improve her life except keep visiting as I know that alone brings her pleasure." - to see more work by Heather, visit her blog here.
Imayla is a project based in both innercity Bristol and in Rural Somerset, which aims to create urban-rural connections and engage as many people from as many diverse backgrounds as possible. For more information, click here.
Heartfelt teamed up with Imayla during one of their recent projects, and all of the participants made a heart. The hearts are simple but lovely.
The beauty of this project is that people have the freedom to make their hearts in any shape, style or size they choose. And for some people at least, this has unleashed a creative talent some of us could only dream of!
"My best friend had a heart of gold, but it was a very weak heart.
The home of her spirit had become an internal physical prison.
After a long battle, her physical heart finally broke, and although
At that moment I felt the pain of my own heart break,
I also felt relief knowing her spirit was free at last.
As I left the hospital car park, I knew she was leaving too.
Looking over the rooftop, across a bright blue sky, my heart ached farewell.”
Infants & Juniors, as well as some parents from Perry Court School, in Bristol, have excelled themselves, making some incredible hearts during their workshop a few weeks ago. A huge amount of care and attention has been taken over them, and we would like to say an enormous WELL DONE! to everyone who took part in the heart-making.
"My Friend Emily.
I loved playing Hide & Seek with my friend Emily.”
"The moment that I realised mums don’t have to be perfect, and that with enough love, everything would be ok.
I looked at my daughter and she stared back at me, her eyes bright with tears and her pink lips trembling with rage at not getting what she wanted.
I realised how hard life is when you are small with no control over what happens.
And I told her how much I loved her, and she smiled, her tears and grief forgotten. The fact that I loved her- that was enough. I love you, S.”
If I make a heart, what size does it have to be and where do I send it?
Hello Flashpedal, thank you for taking the time to have a look around our blog!
As a rough guide, the heart could be about the size of a small dinner plate, but as you can see from the blog entries, hearts come in all shapes and sizes! Please write your ‘moment’ on a postcard and attach it to the heart, and then you can sent the whole lot to
80 Stokes Croft
Your heart will be exhibited with all the others in mid november, so please send it in before the end of October to make sure it gets properly photographed, catalogued and strung.
Not all of the hearts we receive make enjoyable reading- some of the stories told are tragic accounts of bereavement and the struggle to carry on after the loss of someone close. However, the whole point of the project was to allow people to share their most personal stories, however difficult, so rather than despair at the amount of pain and suffering individuals have to cope with, it is comforting to think that, for the authors, just writing down the story to share with others might have been a process of cathartic healing.
I look with bewilderment into the face of my first child. Those beautiful wide open brown eyes, the shape of his eyebrows and the pink rosebud of his lips. I lay the tip of my little finger on his delicate little hand and indulgently hold and love his little feet. My heart swells with pride and love.
I look with bewilderment into the face of my first child. Those lovely eyes framed with the familiar eyebrows, are closed. Below the right eye is a faded scar- memories of a childhood accident. The lips are struggling for breath. I kneel at the foot of the bed and massage body lotion into the tired and stressed feet, in a vain attempt to calm Mike and myself. Moving to look once more into this beautiful face of my son, I hold his hand as the final breath leaves his body. My heart is broken.”
"On the 10th of August 1966 my mother died of breast cancer. No one hugged me. No one talked to me. No one said ‘It’s not your fault,’ no one said ‘She loved you.’
They put her in the cold earth. My mother. I was 10 years and 8 months old. She never talked to me when she was ill. I felt stupid and traumatised. I spent 43 years trying to heal. Forgiveness brings healing. How do I forgive when the desolation and torture is still inside me? I believe in love and joy. One day I will be free.”
Not all of the people who have made hearts have chosen to bare their souls and reveal their personal stories; some prefer to create hearts which everyone can connect with, expressing favourite mantras or sayings.
"Everyone is familiar with a string heart. Just tug at this heartstring and remember past experiences."
Some of the most uplifting stories people have shared through this project have been tales of accomplishment despite the odds stacked against them, or of people working incredibly hard to fulfill a dream, and the wonderful feeling when that finally happens for them.
"After being divorced and my son choosing to live with his father I gained some self respect and self worth by becoming a part-time mature student.
I took and completed an MA in education at UWE in 2001. My gown had scarlet edging and a scarlet hood.”
"My Mazda MX5. A lot of hard work and it was well worth it, I get a great feeling everytime I drive it.”
Some of the most striking stories from the hearts we have received are concerned with illness and trauma- coming to terms with the shocking news that you or someone you love has a life-changing disease or condition. Many of the stories have a surprisingly positive tone, where the individual has found their own personal way to cope with their private tragedy.
"The white heart represents the day my heart seemed to stop, on being told that I had inoperable terminal cancer. The red heart represents the joy of being able to lead a ‘normal’ life thanks to the amazing skill of the medical staff, the loving care of my family and the encouraging support of my friends."
"This heart symbolises the life-changing breath-holding pulse-racing heart-pumping first breath moment of my granddaughter Pella. There are 3 hearts here; mine, my daughter Millie’s and Pella’s- a bit like russian dolls. Late in labour, exhausted, I lay beside Millie reassuring her with one of our prepared affirmations…’you’re very safe…trust your body…you know what to do…return to the breath.’ And so it was that Millie breathed her baby out like a yogic ‘master’ without drugs or medical intervention. There were 3 other hearts in the room- Sam (Pella’s dad) and Sally and Jo- two midwives. Pella was born naturally in water at home in candle-light to soft ambient music. She swam through the water to greet her parents looking for one moment as old and as wise as the universe. Something happened- she didn’t breathe. Sally gestured for Millie to leave the pool and in one quick fluid movement lay Pella gently on the resuscitation mat with her cord still attached. Inhaled deeply and held my breath. Five adults intimately attuned to one baby…all holding our breath. Sally blew softly into Pella’s face and said ‘Can everyone please start breathing again.’ We all breathed out and then breathed in and this time Pella joined us.”
ASCO- the African Street Children Organisation- is a charity working in Uganda to take street children out of the dangerous world they live in, and to give them safety, shelter, food, warmth, education and love: all the things children need and want.
Thanks to Jennifer Mitchell (read about her adventures in Uganda here), 22 boys of various ages took part in the Heartfelt project, drawing detailed pictures of their memorable moments or favourite things. Due to the fact that they couldn’t write in English, they didn’t attach a description- just a signature and a photograph. The results are beautiful.
Welcome to the Heartfelt blog! Here you will be able to see the development of this exciting project, see some of the hearts we have already recieved, and share some of the best, most shocking, saddest or most uplifting stories.
Firstly, let me personally invite you to join in with the project. I invite you to create a heart, large or small, from any material you want, and attach to it a postcard-size label, which describes a heartfelt moment from your life- a moment which truely meant something to you, for the best reasons or the worst.
This is a project of human experiences, shared grief and elation. The finished hearts will be displayed in an exhibition at the Bristol gallery Centrespace in Novemeber, where the stories will be shared, remembered and reflected upon.
Any questions, or for the address to send your finished heart, please send an email to Jan, at firstname.lastname@example.org
So create a heart, and share your heartfelt moment with the world.