Abstract: An English Love Story - Matt Hopwood

Whereto: Matt Hopwood

An English Love Story: Storytelling and the Pilgrim
Matt Hopwood

An English Love Story takes me walking through England as a pilgrim, seeking hospitality where it is offered, meeting people where they are; on the path, in the pub, around the corner, on the street, in prison, in church, on the towpath. We share our love stories together, recording these emotive and powerful human experiences and bringing them to the public all around the world through our online audio archive.

An English Love Story is all about sharing; our lives, our experiences, our humanity. I believe in facilitating encounters where people can connect deeply, feel safe, tell their story, be heard, and discuss matters of the heart, wherever and in whatever way that conversation may find its form. Through these sharings we help to nurture 'true community', connecting people deeply with their emotional and spiritual self, with other people and with the place they live in. The sharing of these stories together becomes an act of connection, something that can transform and continue the world. A act of re-membering that allows us to re-vision the world and begin the process of social reclamation.

An essential tool of the project is the journeying; by foot, as a pilgrim. Since 2012 I have walked over 1000 miles, passing through more than 18 counties. I walk, carrying only a simple bag and stick. I explore the idea of hospitality, the stranger, the guest. I present individuals and communities with the opportunity to extend hospitality in a variety of ways. How do we respond to the stranger in our community, at our front door? What does that tell us about our community and the way in which we communally express love? What is the importance of a smile? An open hand? Through walking I enter a place stripped of my possessions and status, open to an open encounter, gently arriving, quietly leaving, unencumbered and free to meet people where they are.