When I visit my grandma, our meetings will often follow a similar pattern. Before long we have finished exchanging all small life updates, after which she pulls out a stack of shoe boxes and places them on the table overlooking the garden. We then begin decanting the many damp magazines, material scraps, and the roughly cut leaflets that she has collected from 80 years of persistent junk mail. These shoeboxes are a dusty goldmine of pictures, papers and words. A seemingly endless supply, she uses them to make her collages. In recent years, she has gifted this pastime to me. Many long afternoons have been spent like this with the both of us collaging, sustained by a never-ending stream of Eccles cakes.
When my university sent me home at the beginning of lock down, I hadn’t seen her in several months. We spoke a little on the phone, but it was difficult to properly communicate. Seeing as I could no longer go inside her flat, she offered to deposit a bag with a collection of collage materials on her doorstep for me to come and collect. Then, as lockdown continued, we developed a new routine. Instead I would let myself into her garden through the street entrance and, with me on the grass and her on the patio, she would hold up her latest collages so we could talk about them. In exchange, I would use email to send her photos of my collages, so that she could see the image enlarged on her computer. In return, she gave little lines of pithy criticism.
It is from her goldmine, gifted at the beginning of lock down, that I created the collage for the front of this issue. Some of the images had already been cut out by her. And when I emailed her the finished piece, her reply was: ‘we talked, the Horse and I… On the whole he loved being in it and I love looking at it.’