Stoke-on-Trent’s Gabriella Gay – combining arts and community for a wider cultural meaning…

Culture is a word which can cover a wide range of subjects to describe a way of life. Culture helps to identify ideas, lifestyle or social behaviour of a country or cities population.

For instance the arts can be included as being part of a culture just as much as a favourite cuisine.

In Stoke-on-Trent, MA student Gabriella Gay has been combining her Creative Writing studies to highlight a cultural aspect which she feels is often overlooked in the City.

As part of her Keele University studies, Gabriella chose to take up a writers residency at Hanley car boot sale – combining poetry with a community she has loved for more than a decade.

“While some writers see writing residences primarily as accolades to further their career, others aim to work with institutions, organisations and communities that align with their interests,” says Gabriella.

“With the latter in mind, I took up the role as the writer in residence at Hanley car boot sale as I wanted to not only highlight poetry but the car boot too. The community is important to me and the car boot sale has its own unique culture, which is often overlooked when people think of culture in Stoke-on-Trent. My aim as a writer is to highlight the importance of this Sunday community car boot – which I believe is one of the most diverse places in the city.”

The residency has seen Gabriella purchase objects from the car boot using a strict budget. After purchasing the objects she then spoke to the sellers and through her poetry has told the story behind each one.

Some of the objects Gabriella purchased at the car boot

“I wanted to see the car boot from different angles,” says Gabriella. “I wanted to see it from the sellers angle and the buyers angles and I was really interested in finding out the stories behind the objects that are sold. I’ve heard some amazing stories and everyone has been really welcoming to me. A lot of people have asked me about my poetry and people have been really interested.”

Gabriella has a great passion for the car boot she first visited more than 10 years ago – which was often referred to then as “Valentino’s” market after the former nightclub.

“Ten years ago, as a struggling student, I remember buying baby toys and clothes at Valentino’s for my new-born son,” Gabriella adds. “Since then I’ve been a regular visitor to Hanley Car Boot sale, at times just to wander, out of ritual to feel the buzz of this vibrant city centre community of thrift and entrepreneurship. Held every Sunday in all weathers, in all seasons, this car boot sale has become an essential place of Hanley city centre.”

Gabriella’s six week residency came to an end on Sunday March 31, with a private reading at the car boot sale, which is situated off Broad Street, the items brought were resold with their poems.

Please see Gabriella’s Twitter page here @gkgaywriting for more


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