‘Older Women Rock The Potteries!’: Dawn Jutton

Image: Dawn Jutton with the Blazer.
Image credit: Jake Hall

‘Older Women Rock The Potteries!’
Dawn Jutton, artist (scarf, blazer, apron and suitcase).

“I walked down the café stairs
And spotted a poet I had never met
contemplating labels for lunch.

I heard myself say the words,
“Just like to I say I loved your Live Age set”
and the rest will be history.”

Dawn Jutton, is one of the inspirational and innovative artists, involved in the project for ‘Older Women Rock The Potteries!’. She worked alongside spoken word poet Leah Thorn on the project to reflect the ideas of “Older Women Rock The Potteries!” through artistic works created specifically for the project including the ‘Scarf’, ‘Blazer’, ‘Apron’ and ‘Suitcase.’ The stirring meaning that has been defined through this artwork is spectacular. Below is a short statement from Dawn Jutton expressing her experience working on this project accompanied with a short gallery demonstrating her artwork.

“…and so I met Leah Thorn, never imagining that this fortuitous meeting would result in an opportunity to actually become part of the ‘Older Women Rock’ project. Less than an hour previously I had found myself at a conference about which I had little previous knowledge or real understanding of its purpose. However, Leah’s performance and presentation had been an inspiration and an awakening to some of the issues faced by older women, yet it also celebrated all the positive
aspects of ageing.

Leah subsequently contacted me about her fellowship ideas and luckily I convinced her that, although my fine art practice is rooted in photography; concept, words and installation are important features, and that I am always open to being challenged. Collaborating with other poets has also become a regular aspect of my practice, and with Leah it has been a
particularly special experience for several reasons, not least of which is meeting inspirational women who have already made an impact on my own attitude to identifying as an older woman, and no doubt providing future themes for my work.

Meeting the women from Syria and Iraq and hearing their stories will also stay with me long after the scarf has been packed away; as will a new fascination for Arabic writing and the fulfilment of a longtime wish to collaborate with an artist friend, the respected embroiderer Amanda Clayton. The chance to reconnect with Pink Link during the development of the blazer also reminded me of the importance of sharing our life stories, not just as an affirmation of who we are, but also as a reminder that we should never forget the struggle we often have to be seen and heard. The blazer was one of the easier pieces to create as its design almost demanded we conform to its stripes, although creating a set of ‘tales’ (tails) helped to subvert the formal lines and the subtext of garment. The frayed photos are also symbolic of frayed memories, relationships, and in some cases, the difficulties of being constantly visible.

Working with the apron ‘Recipe for a Community of Older Women’ was an opportunity to be more playful and drew on previous work that I exhibited in pop up shop set up in Newcastle-under-Lyme during July. This was based on fifties ‘kitchenalia ‘advertising and the concept fitted perfectly with the positivity and playfulness of the words. Similarly, the ‘Baggage’ list created by Leah and the women taking part in her groups inspired me to develop ideas I had around creating a Pandora’s Box. The open case spilling out the contents, but not quite letting them go, symbolises the unlocking of ideas and thoughts we have about ourselves, while the clear packaged representations of the personal revelations suggest the vulnerability that comes with ‘spilling out’ our stories. This is something we often do not get to share in a safe space, unless we meet someone like Leah.”

Work included:

SCARF Words in English and Arabic, captured from conversations with two older women at the Jubilee Centre.

BLAZER Developed with Pink Link. Testimony about being an older lesbian/gay woman.

APRON With a group poem about intentional building of supportive relationships between older women.

SUITCASE With poetry and testimony about the emotional baggage older women carry.

ARTISTS: Dawn Jutton | Leah Thorn

PARTICIPANTS: Artlink | New Vic Theatre - Ages & Stages Theatre Company | North Staffordshire Women’s Network | Pink Link, Staffordshire Lesbian Network | Jubilee Centre | West End Village Extra Care Housing | Wonder Women

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