Poet, singer/songwriter, keyboard/accordion player, actor, humourist and facilitator Heather Wastie grew up in the Black Country; in 2006 she moved to Kidderminster where she ran spoken word and music night, Mouth and Music for 4 years. She was The Worcestershire Poet Laureate 2015/16. In 2013 she was Writer in Residence at the Museum of Carpet, turning people’s memories into poems, monologues and songs which she now performs. This work was published in November 2015 by Black Pear Press under the title Weaving Yarns.
In summer 2016 she began touring a double bill of theatre, poetry and song, Idle Women of the Wartime Waterways, with writer and actor Kate Saffin. The show is touring with Arts Council funding between April and August 2017. With poet Emma Purshouse, she co-founded Brewers’ Troupe performance poetry company writing shows to be performed in pubs. She is also half of spoken word / squeeze box duo Jiggery Spokery with Dave Reeves (who bellows) and has worked as a poet and actor for National Trust property Croome Court in Worcestershire.
Heather has published 4 illustrated poetry collections and, as an oral historian, has compiled and edited 2 books of Black Country reminiscences which grew out of projects in Tipton and West Bromwich. She has recently completed commissions for the Canal & River Trust, Black Country Echoes, Birmingham LGBT choir Rainbow Voices, West Midlands Historic Buildings Trust, Apples and Snakes, Rights and Equality Sandwell’s “Where’s Our Spake Gone?” project, BBC local radio (a national project for National Poetry Day 2016) and Voices Nationwide. In 2016 she composed a series of songs for an English Touring Opera Turtle Song project in Wolverhampton with people who have dementia.
Current projects include work with NEETS at the Museum of Carpet, funded by the Clore Duffield Foundation, and a children’s song cycle commissioned by Worcestershire Building Preservation Trust to celebrate the history of the Weaver’s Cottages in Kidderminster.
For further information see http://www.WastiesSpace.co.uk.
Kidderminster was founded on the carpet industry. A very high proportion of people living in the town have connections with it, whether directly or through family members. There is a huge sense of pride associated with it and a great deal of active interest in local history. This project aims to harness this, encouraging people to write about their own experiences as well as keeping alive people’s stories through songs, poetry and prose.
Heather began researching and writing about this subject in summer 2012, with funding from the Kidderminster Educational Foundation and Wyre Forest District Council. She has interviewed retired carpet factory employees in several locations. She is working towards the publication of a book and CD and offers performances of the work both solo and with singer/songwriter Kate Wragg, in a show called Kidderminster Stuff.
In October 2012, a new Museum of Carpet opened its doors in Kidderminster. In 2013 Heather was Writer In Residence, thanks to Arts Council Lottery funding and a grant from Worcestershire Arts Partnership.
Grateful thanks also to the following for their help with Weaving Yarns: Loz Samuels, Jean Talbot, Paula Kovacs, Steve Wilson, Jonathan Davidson, Gemma Dhami, Melvyn Thompson