Category Archives: Dudley

The Project

This is a project that began on July 16th, 2009, as I drove through Nebraska during that hot summer’s day.  This is an honest account of the life of this project, from beginning to end, not just an overview of the great and wonderful things that have happened along the way.  This is the truth, in all of it’s ugliness and beauty.  Because life is not a beautiful struggle.  It is ridiculous and complicated and wonderful and amazing and disappointing and glorious.

The official blurb goes a little something like this:

“Why did we come here?”

This question was the catalyst that began a two-year journey of discovery to uncover the story behind the 200-year journey that artist Cassandra Harrison’s family made from England to America and back again.

Following the notes and photos left behind by her late grandfather (a former FBI agent), Cassandra set out to re-tell the story of her ancestors’ migration from Ivybridge to Exeter to Dudley, then on to Nebraska, following their emigration to America in 1868.  Her strand of the story brings the connecting thread back to England, in Newcastle, 2009.

The Connecting Thread uses hand-printed textile images, bedsheets and pillowcases to create a living, tactile timeline.  The exhibition is about realizing how decisions made hundreds of years ago affect who we are and where we are today.  It’s about discovering another layer to our identity, appreciating the paths travelled by the people preceding us and giving life to the names on a family tree.

To see photographs of works in progress and completed artwork, please visit the Flickr page.

About the Artist:

Cassandra Harrison trained in Nebraska, graduating with honours in Fine Art and Art Education.  In 2002, she moved to England where she continued her work as an artist, creating works for commission for private collectors, a children’s book author and a solicitors partnership.  Harrison’s work has been exhibited throughout the country and was recently on exhibit in the Visual Arts Scotland Annual Open Exhibition at The Royal Scottish Academy Upper Galleries, Edinburgh.  This is her first solo exhibition.


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Filed under a good story, Dudley, Edinburgh, Exeter/Ivybridge, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne, research, the process

Final installation of The Connecting Thread

Can you believe that the final (ehem…so far….there are plans) installation of The Connecting Thread – a personal psychogeography is happening so soon?! After two years of planning and creating, it is time to string it up in the last venue, the last leg of the international tour.

Oct 2
5 – 7pm
Reception in the foyer of the Bioscience Centre (easily located off of Times Square)
There will be wine and me smiling insanely as I will be very pleased to see you there. It would be lovely if you could come along and celebrate this adventure with me.

Exhibition opening times:

Oct 3 – Dec 2

Monday – Thursday
8am – 6pm

8am – 5pm

I will be conducting collaborative Gocco workshops and a walk through of the exhibition on October 27th and 28th. Those specific times will be listed here closer to the days.

What is The Connecting Thread?

The Connecting Thread uses hand-printed textile images, bedsheets and pillowcases to create a living, tactile timeline. The exhibition is about realizing how decisions made hundreds of years ago affect who we are and where we are today. It’s about discovering another layer to our identity, appreciating the paths travelled by the people preceding us and giving life to the names on a family tree.


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Filed under a good story, Dudley, Edinburgh, Exeter/Ivybridge, Nebraska, Newcastle upon Tyne, the process

Conversations at the Dudley Archives

National Youth Theatre Memory Box - 1948

Now that I have returned from the second venue of my multi-venued tour, I have been able to unpack, take stock and think about the weekend I have just had.  Although I am disappointed that Friday did not happen as I had hoped it would, Saturday more than  made up for it.  Not only were the little worker bees at the Dudley Archives helpful and accommodating with smashing personalities, the guests that attended Family History Day were interesting to talk to and I did get up to a few great conversations with other exhibitors.

The above photo is just a small section of the National Youth Theatre display.  Their space mostly focused on the 1948 Olympics of Austerity.  Volunteers working  at the booth were flitting around, speaking to the public about their memories of that time.  Obviously, they were targeting people of a certain age.  I had to take a snap of the “I danced with a Yank!” comment as it made me laugh, the oddness or newsworthiness of dancing with someone of my country.  A Yank!  Love it.

I put Dudley and Nebraska in a corner

Meet Lauren!

Meet James!

My assistants, Lauren and James, were completely delightful and not only helped to set up and take down the work (thanks Lauren) but were wonderful to talk to.  Oh, to be young, with all those plans and ideas and all of life laid out before you.  I am sometimes a bit envious of the youth, looking at all the possibilities and the different roads to take and not yet marred by some of the bumps and turns that can surprise you as you navigate your way through the lows and highs.  I hope they keep in touch as I am interested to see where life takes them, or more accurately, how they decide where to etch their paths.

During my conversations, some very interesting ancestor stories cropped up.  One lady talked about her family’s move to New Zealand over a hundred years ago.  Another lady talked about how she felt when she found proof that there was a murderer in her family.  The man had murdered his wife in the 1860s and was consequently hung for his crime.  She found his death certificate which confirms all of this.  How incredible would that feel to hold that certificate and see those words.  Amazing.

I did meet a very interesting individual, Graham Fisher MBE, don’t ya know.  It was such a treat to be able to sit and chat with him for quite some time.  He had received his MBE for the work he had done on the canals, a passion that he acquired as a lad living in this heavily canalled area of the world.  He is also a presenter on the local radio station – The Bridge. He had a call in interview that morning and said some very kind words about my exhibition at the Dudley Archives Family History Day event.  It was a few sentences that were really lovely to hear.  I must admit, the resemblance him and my step dad share is very unsettling.  I wasn’t at all surprised to see the tattoos and hear about his Harley.  I had to deliver the unfortunate news that my step dad no longer has his Harley, however, he does have an impressive collection of guitars.

So.  That was my day at the Dudley Archives.  I just want to thank them very much for having me and my rather huge display.  Thank you everyone for a great day.

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Filed under a good story, Dudley

Ok. So. As you can see these are videos of Dudley

My videos are starting to make me cringe.  They all begin with me saying “Okay, so, as you can see…” which is grating.  I think we know that perhaps I am not one for public speaking.

The first video is of part of the artwork hanging in the Dudley Archives for their Family History Day.  My assistant and I had to leave out a sheet and some pillowcases, but hopefully there was enough work there to tell enough of the story.  The second video as of the family’s home, where they lived in 1868.

These links will take you across time and space, or possibly across to YouTube:

This is the one in the Archives.

And this is the one on Wolverhampton Street.


Filed under Dudley, videos

An exercise in problem solving


The A702 was its usual beautiful self and then the heavens opened and I didn’t see more than 5 metres in any direction for over an hour. Yes. The much anticipated rain. I felt right and just for having cancelled the outdoor exhibit today.

Several hours later, too much coffee and two Krispy Kreme donuts later, I finally began my approach to Dudley. And Hark! What was this before my very eyes?! Not the puddles I had been expecting, but instead dry roads, light, high and completely unthreatening clouds. When I arrived in Dudley at 3pm, it was declared that hardly a drop had fallen. The sagging of my shoulders was visible I am sure.
So, here I now sit with my cold pint and a burger being prepared especially for me. The hours my lovely assistant Lauren and I spent problem solving at the Dudley Archives resulted in something rather good for the space given. I have finally met Mr Bytheway and Diane and Gillian, my wonderful contacts at the archives. I see on the agenda for tomorrow that Ned Williams will be speaking about local history. Of course. I cannot wait to meet him and darn it if I have forgotten to bring my books for him to sign.
Overall, I am pleased about today. And to top it off, some old guy at the bar said “Good bye, Love” as he made his way outside for a fag.
Nice one.

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Filed under Dudley, the process

The Connecting Thread at the Dudley Archives, Sat 18th of June

This Saturday is Local History Day at the Dudley Archives.  I am so excited to be a part of this event.  It is really quite a divine accident (yes, I know what I did there and it was intentional) that I ended up booking the tour to visit the archives on the day of their big event.  I have been in communication with the lovely worker bees at this venue and from what I can gather, there will be a lot to see and do, fun for the whole family lark, on this Saturday.  This very one.  That Saturday happening on the 18th of June.

The Dudley Archives will be open from 10am – 5pm.  And for those of you that will have a chance to visit, here is the link to get you there.

Tomorrow morning I am setting out early to drive the five long hours from Edinburgh to Dudley.  I am actually looking forward to this roadtrip with my work in tow.  Hours and hours of being surrounded by my music selection is my special little version of heaven.

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Filed under Dudley, the process

Dudley High Street exhibit cancelled

After a frantic morning of phone calls and emails, I have decided to cancel the display for Friday.  The forecast seems to be predicting something quite torrential for Friday.  I was also unable to secure an indoor space.  It does seem disappointing that sometimes no matter how hard you try, your best is not good enough.  And oh, did I try.

With that said, the exhibition at the Dudley Archives is still on!  Here is a map to the archives.  Saturday is their Family Open Day, so it should be quite an excellent day to visit.

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