TEXTtile: Chapter Two

Birthday crowns
Birthday crowns

Week two of the project and already celebrating an 88th birthday, a 96th birthday and, of course, the Queen’s 90th birthday AND St.George’s Day.  Live band, dancing, singing, storytelling, painting, drawing and cake eating.  Not a bad way to spend a Monday afternoon.

We like to start the sessions with a simple, topic related, crafty activity, which can been done easily and unselfconsciously whilst chatting away around the topic in question. Creating the correct atmosphere and nurturing confidence before moving on to more free hand, arty tasks. It also gets the group interacting and sharing ideas and materials…

Check out the time lapse footage and photos to see how we got on…

This group are a lively bunch and although this footage is obviously speeded up,  it’s not far off! What it omits is the constant conversation and good humoured chat. The social aspect of these groups is not to be underestimated, it is the project’s core and centre.

One of our TEXTtile makers in conversation with her friend…’it’s good to have a focus to the day. I told you, you would like it, it’s good company ..and they listen to you. Everyone’s in such a hurry these days, they don’t have time to listen.  I really enjoyed myself last week. I had a good time. So here I am back again. ‘

For most of our makers it has been a long time since they picked up a paint brush. In some cases the last time they painted or drew anything was when they were sighted.  A daunting task for anyone out of practice, but J excelled herself, taking her time to create a portrait of her friend Val. May, got in to the flow, even though she hadn’t painted since childhood, choosing to “jazz up” her work and take creative ownership of where she wanted it to go.

“I think I’ll add a splash of colour, because it feels right. It’s quite calming painting, even if you don’t know what your doing!”  May, TEXTtile Maker

“I’m thoroughly enjoying myself! I didn’t think I would be saying that, such a simple thing, but the atmosphere’s lovely.”

Violet, TEXTtile Maker

After an hour and a half of making and chatting and spurring each other on we had a full table’s worth of images for inclusion in our book. Pages will consist of the quotes and stories told by our TEXTtile makers and illustrated by the artwork they created whilst sharing their stories.

And as the inspirational, legend that was Tony Hartt used to say. “Let’s take a look in this week’s gallery…”

We finished off by going downstairs to the St. Georges Day celebrations, laid on by St. Luke’s Community Centre. Enjoying a sing a long to the live band, sandwiches and a bogey.

This week we welcomed back Piera. Piera was one of our super productive makers on the Material Memories Project at Islington Museum. She joins us on the TEXTtile project in the role of Mentor, creating an ongoing continuity from one project to the next and adding reassurance and peer support to the new makers. Hopefully she’ll give us some pointer too!

Next week…. a cultural excursion to The Dickens Museum for bookish inspiration.

Author: Alex McEwan

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

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