TEXTtile Book Project: Intro

TEXTtile Multi media poster
TEXTtile poster

Welcome to the first oldblog post introducing our brand new project TEXTtile,  the latest Sense, arts and wellbeing, community project for elderly makers living with the challenges of sensory impairment. And this time we are trying something different, sharing our stories by creating our own books.

We set off, wading into unchartered waters, on a Book Arts adventure…a new group of makers,  a new host venue, a new selection of techniques coupled with revisited topics which worked well on previous projects. Book Arts is a broad and far reaching discipline, which is great for community projects, we literally have a blank page! This time round we will be trying our hands at printmaking, painting, portraiture, collage, creating back histories for found objects, poetry and digital image making on the iPads, amongst other things. It’s a lot to fit in to the 10 weeks but I’m excited to see what we will create as the weeks unfurl.

This is a book project  with ambition. TEXTtile books will, hopefully, be the first illustrated, interactive, life histories editions to grace an on going archive project, which hopes to build a library of maker’s life histories and experiences of try new and revisiting old creative endeavours, later in life. Our project will be showcased during Deaf Blind Awareness Week in June.

“Thriving out with your comfort zone and rising to challenges in a supportive environment, works wonders for anyones self esteem. Improving creative confidence is at the heart of what what we strive to continue to do on, TEXTtile, our new Book Arts project.”  – Alex McEwan Lead Artist TEXTtile

St.Luke Sign
St.Luke’s Gate

Our new venue is the fabulous St. Luke’s Community Centre EC1V. What a brilliant venue! So much going on, a real community hub for all ages run by friendly staff. If you haven’t been, go, for the great café attached if for nothing else! The TEXTtile team will be meeting each week for 2 hours of conversation and arts and craft activities around a given topic…which we always stray from! Sessions are fluid and very much focus on having fun and building individual  makers creative confidence and establishing a welcoming atmosphere. We record the rich histories of our, very international, makers by scribing stories, shooting time- lapse film, and taking photographs. We will be venturing out of St. Luke’s for two, book related, local, cultural excursions toThe Dickens Museum and The British Library at St. Pancras where we hope to get inspired and spark discussion and ideas for our own outcome.

This project is a bit of a departure from our past four projects which have been, interactive, life history quilts… but only a bit. Our quilts were based on the idea of them being open books, realised in material. The TEXTtile book project will use all the multi media that the quilting projects did and feels like a natural progression from what went before. Fret not, quilting fans, our quilting journey is not over,  just temporarily on ice…to keep it fresh!The quilting projects Tactile Histories at The Museum of Childhood, Material Memories at Islington Museum, Quilt Tales One & Two realised at The Paul Robeson Theatre and Edward Pauling House in Hounslow all brought elderly people together in collaboration, to try new things, tell their stories in their own words, forge new friendship and reap the wellbeing rewards of growing in creative confidence . TEXTtile will continue in this vein.

We are always learning how to improve our projects, which is what keepS each project exciting and challenging for all taking part. We continue to collate research to support the real benefit our work, and to contribute to wider discussion across sectors. We are joined on this project by one of our Material Memories maker as a Project Mentor. In our past two projects we introduced the idea that makers willing to share their experiences on past projects should add into new ones in the form of a Project Mentor, allowing for continuity and collaboration between projects. On this project, I will also be collaborating with Higher & Further Education colleagues to collate research for a paper into new ways to engage with groups and encourage discussion. This will be done through hosting three Connecting Classes workshops (#CClasses), which will be incorporated into our scheduled workshops, and will see our makers tweeting their responses to given topics. More on this in a future post.

I am joined on the project by artist Nicole Line who’s enthusiasm, energy,  can-do attitude and vast making knowledge is a real asset to the group, you can see more of what Nicole gets up to at www.nicoleline.com . We will keep you up to date with happenings on the project with regular posts. Please feel free to spread the word,  leave a comment and follow our progress here and on #TEXTtile, @SenseTweets, @mcewan_alex.

Chapters 1 and 2 coming soon…

Alex McEwan

Author: Alex McEwan

Alex is an artist who specialises in inclusive and accessible community arts projects, such as Sense's TEXTtile and Quilt Tales.

2 thoughts on “TEXTtile Book Project: Intro”

  1. Fabulous. Were seniors recruited through community hubs or did they come in through curiosity? I ask because it takes courage to join a group just like that. And will there be s physical book or is it all planned to be an online archive? Do carers participate?

    1. Hello Gillian, Thanks for your interest in the project. We did recruit through hubs and ran a couple of taster sessions in the area but most participants are St. Luke’s members.
      In past projects, participants have made the extremely courageous move of meeting new people at a public venue. Our excursions on the project are aimed at growing confidence in going to public places and exposure to new experiences, I will blog as to how we get on. There will indeed be a physical book(s) of the work we make whilst we tell our life stories as well as the on line blog content. Carers are welcome and have actively participated in the past, this said there are no carers taking part in this current project, yet. The whole team adds to the book, it is a shared experience for all the people contributing. I see this as the only way we can make it as inclusive as possible and the valuable perspective and insight of carers, translators, venue staff, who are an important part of the peer group.

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