More Than a Hundred Stories

We are two artists, interested in how art can animate, challenge and create communities. We’ve been commissioned by Creative People and Places to creatively map and respond to its achievements, the problems it faces, and the questions it has generated.

We are interested in the programme’s ambition to change how art is commissioned and experienced and will be exploring how and to what extent this ambition has been realised across all 21 projects.

We will be posting creative responses to conversations, observations and research throughout the project and will share our final work with you in autumn 2016. Do join us and follow our creative journey on this blog.

You can find out more about our work at: and

Sarah Butler and Nicole Mollett

Cycling the ‘Northern Belt’ | a note


From 14-17th September I cycled from my home in Manchester to Heart of Glass, St. Helens; then LeftCoast, Blackpool and Wyre; and on to Super Slow Way, Pennine Lancashire (I will continue my journey east from Dewsbury to Hull next week). The following posts are some reflections from those visits. I have not included everything I did and everything I saw, but have tried to pull out the themes, ideas and questions that arose during my time with each project. I will be posting some creative responses in the coming weeks. You can also search #morethan100stories on Twitter for more photos and tweets from my journey.



Take this one, terrifying word
This be all, end all, wake you in the middle of the night word.
Look at it.
Its history is packed with battles and attacks
But once it meant shield
Once it offered shelter.

There is never enough



When someone says, 'Can I have a minute,' they are not talking about sixty seconds. There are not sixty of those kinds of minutes in an hour.

They say it flies when you're having fun. But the same goes for having a deadline.

Put a timer on and suddenly everything's pressurised. Each shudder of a clock's hand, each grain of sand marks another loss.

We are anticipating the end – of the sand, the day, the week, the summer, the financial year, the funding period, our careers.

Top creative writing tip: is your story lacking pace? Try adding a ticking clock.

We only have so much of it.

Balance – this is what we are all aiming for, between our work, our personal lives, our own small and bigger pictures. We have to work out how much to allocate to what. It is pretty much impossible to get it right.

Negative thinking isn't going to help.

The sand in the timer leaves a residue as it falls – a light dusting of grains on the curve of the glass. Free time? Time left over? Time unspent?

It never stops.

'Excuse me, do you have the time?' For what?

Once upon a time, a woman tried to write about time in fifteen minutes. She couldn't stop looking at the falling yellow sand of her egg timer. It made it hard to concentrate. She wrote with her heart up in her throat and her breath shallow in her chest.

It is almost done.

She is out of time.


Written in 15 minutes (exactly!) in response to numerous responses to the question 'Life has many burdens and obstacles. What prevents you from being more creative?' at the CPP Conference in Stoke.

Smoke Screen


When what you need to do takes time; when what you need to do is almost invisible; when what you need to do is hard to explain, you might need to think big.

Consider a spectacle – huge, beautiful, magical, visible: acrobats and fireworks; drama and dancing; laughter and held breaths; the streets lit gold. Something to hold onto, to point at, to photograph. Something unforgettable.

It can buy you time for the smaller things: a cup of tea with someone who’s never much bothered with art; a three hour meeting to find the right question; time spent listening.

It can make the space for you to weave this slow, delicate web of connections, intentions, desires, compromise, ambition.


Inspired by conversations at CPP’s June conference in Stoke about the need for the programme to be visible as well as the need and value of small, consistent interventions and connections.

An attempt to sum up


something about time
something about listening
something about stepping away

something about being quiet
something about being careful
something about patience

something about being invited in
something about making suggestions
something about taking the lids off people’s heads

something about honesty
something about bravery
something about starting again each time

Inspired by Ronnie Hughes from Granby 4 Streets summing up a group discussion about working with communities at CPP’s June conference in Stoke.