Alison Kershaw died on the 14th October 2021.
Alison was the lead artist and manager of TLC Art Project and had run the project since starting as artist-in-residence at St Luke's Church in 1993.
Image by Jenny Thomas
Alison supported Mapping Manchester's Quiet Spaces in many ways behind the scenes, securing funding for the project and helping with visioning and developing the project. She also contributed many blog posts and attended events whenever she could. When we recently went through all the documentation of TLC art project (going back to 1993) we marveled at how the themes of nature, poetry, drawing, and mental health had all been present since it's conception and how MMQS is really just the latest incarnation of our nature-based artwork to help improve mental health.
For Alison, in her own artwork two themes were strongly present throughout her life; Place and Relationships. Whether in the Art Room of St Luke's Church, the Pool Arts Studio (Pool Arts is a unique user-lead art project that Alison set up in 2000), Victoria Baths (where Alison was curator of Contemporary Arts), and many more Alison created safe spaces where connection and community could happen and she built strong and lasting relationships with many she worked with over the years.
So when Alison died, it seemed fitting to find a way to remember her together as a group, and to revisit the key places of her projects. We organised a candle-lit walk as a vigil to honour our friend and colleague. On Tuesday 2nd November at 6pm, (a previously busy time in our mental health drop-in at the church) we gathered together at St Luke's church, lit candles and read "The Heart Starts Here" aloud. This poem is installed as brass letters encircling the church (a previous creative writing installation by Tess Lomas and Paul Jelen). We then walked together down Devonshire Street, past Elizabeth's Gaskell's House where Alison and Pool Arts put on an exhibition in the entire house when it was still "The Pink House" before the renovations (and where we continue a strong partnership with our current MMQS activities and events). Then we continued through the estate that our project serves. Finally arriving at Pool Art's Studio (where we were welcomed with open arms when we were evicted from the Church in 2019 losing our home of 30 years). Inside the studio we shared poems, songs and memories. Here are some photos of our candle-lit vigil:
Images by Jenny Thomas, Trae England and Rae Story
Alison was pioneering in Arts and Health and dedicated her life to her work. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
You can find out more about Alison and her artwork here: