Quilt Tales Talk at RBG Kew

Artist, Alex McEwan delivers talk on Quilt Tales Projects at Kew.

Hand and machine sewn appliqué lettering on back group painted by Kenny.
Hand and machine sewn appliqué lettering on back group painted by Kenny.

I was invited back to Kew to show off the work made by our Sense Makers in response to their visit to the gardens and talk about our Community Textile Projects. Quilt Tales 1 and 2, are two sister quilts, the result of a 6 month, community, life histories,  textile project delivered in Hounslow. Both quilts are still to receive their finishing touches, but managed to created plenty of discussion and admiration from the Discovery Team Guides, who run tours on behalf of the Discovery and Access programme at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. By delivering ‘In conversation..’ type talks we hope to widen engagement with our textile wellbeing projects and build fruitful relationships with fantastic organisations.

“Awe inspiring, inspirational, wonderful work. Thank you so much!

– Janice: Kew Discovery Guide.

On each project we organise trips to get our elderly makers out and about and inspired by local attractions. Last November, our makers from Edward Pauling House went on a fabulous day out to enliven their senses at Kew, where creative inspiration lay hidden under every fallen leaf, encased every tree and blew through the autumnal canopy. To see what we got up to on the day please click on the link.


Justine Parker, Discovery and Access Coordinator,  was our point of contact at Kew, and along with her experienced team, left no path unexplored or consideration un checked in the run up to and on the day of our visit,  in order that our specialist needs were met and creative flair indulged, ensuring that we got the most out of our time at Kew. The QT2 makers then created individual panels in response to our experiences at the gardens back at our base. Here are just some of their work, which now adorn, the nearly finished, Quilt Tales 2 quilt.

“Thank you for showing us your wonderful quilt! I felt emotional as you described the impact that the trip to Kew had on your participants. Roll on quilt project No.3!”

– Justine Parker – Discovery & Access Coordinator; Kew.

The reaction to the quilts and our community project work was overwhelmingly positive and, at times, emotional. After a short talk and presentation with plenty of tactile examples, I was inundated with questions and ideas for future projects and expanding the work we do and possibilities for widening our audience. Notes were taken, ideas bounced and contact details swapped in a fizzy atmosphere of genuine enthusiasm.

“This exhibition – indeed the whole Sense concept – has been an “eye-opener”. A truly enlightening experience. Thank you.” – Kew Guide

“Quite inspirational! Are there enough of you to go round? So many people & organisations could benefit from these wonderful projects. Thank you.” Barbara – Kew Discovery Guide.

Feedback on the project and the talk from the Discovery & Access Team…

“What fabulous quilts. Fun group and inspirational people.” -Bhavana: Kew Discovery Guide.

“I’m inspired to make something. I think I’m not creative, but perhaps I am? Seeing this quilt makes me want to try!” – Jennifer: Kew Discovery Guide.

“Very inspirational! Interesting work. Loved all the quilts. I think I will start doing one again!” -Kew Discovery Guide.

“ I am so impressed by the creativity and imagination that has gone into this fantastic quilt. Thank you for coming to Kew and for allowing me to show you around. Please come again!” – Jane: Kew Discovery Guide.

“Thank you for taking me on this art journey! Your earnestness and creativity is contagious and will lead people to follow you. I look forward to seeing the quilts in Waterman’s and will encourage some of my friends to go and see them. I wish you much success in your caring, artistic work.” – Lourds Rico.


I would like to thank all who attended the talk for their enthusiasm and ideas and thank Justine for welcoming me back. I look forward to to seeing you at the exhibition opening.

Quilt Tales 1 and 2 are due to be displayed at Waterman’s Art Centre from 18th March 2016 for one month and then at The Civic Centre, Hounslow in May 2016 – All welcome.

Author: Alex McEwan

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

One thought on “Quilt Tales Talk at RBG Kew”

  1. Reading this post made me feel emotional! This truly is caring and contagious art inspiration at its best, we know how much people get out of feeling useful and creative, it has a profound impact and I get more excited about these projects each time. It’s like unlocking a box of secrets watching someone’s creative imagination unfurl. Massive thanks also go to such education teams that strive to make their places of inspiration accessible to more people. And to alex for pulling it all together. Brava!

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