My Criminal Quilts Prison Dress and Prison Portraits collaboration with Tim Fowler are on show in Leicester during May 2022
I was invited to show new work in this year’s Craft Month at LCB Depot in Leicester and chose to display this joint work with Tim Fowler who is also based in Leicester. We met when we both worked in Makers Yard studios, part of the LCB business premises group.
You can find out more about the paintings and the prison dress here. Criminal Quilts is an arts and heritage project created by Ruth Singer exploring the stories of women held in Stafford Prison 1877-1916.
The work is is on show at LCB Depot, Rutland St, Leicester until 1st June. Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. It’s free to visit. The main body of work is just inside the main entrance with one piece out in the courtyard. There’s a few other pieces and groups of craft work around the building, along with a student exhibition in the main gallery.
Find out more about Criminal Quilts
The Criminal Quilts exhibition tour has now concluded although I will continue to show individual pieces in group exhibitions. The final part of the project is an online conference called Making Meaning Live which takes place in July 2022 and is free to attend.
I’ve made a series of pre-recorded talks about different aspects of the Criminal Quilts project which you can stream and watch now.
Creating art projects with and for communities is a huge part of my creative business. For years I’ve worked on projects to support creativity and wellbeing for those with limited access to the arts for various reasons. Recently I’ve been creating projects myself rather than just working for other people and one of those is the Woodgate Wellbeing project I’ve developed for the users of the foodbank I helped establish in 2020. I’ve brought together a group of local artists and practitioners to create activities and events that are creative, accessible and relaxing and which also link to the local area of the city. To make the activities as accessible as possible, I’ve put together this magazine with loads of activities and an accompanying materials box to go with it. Workshop activities start later this month too. I’m so excited about this getting this project launched and hopefully supporting people to have a bit more creativity and wellbeing in their lives.
The cover of Woodgate Wellbeing magazine is one of my Foodbank Stories embroideries. I created this project concept in early 2021 and applied for two different funds through the foodbank. The second was successful (Places Called Home fund from The National Lottery & IKEA). I have created the concept, commissioned the content and designed the magazine and kits. I’ve been supported in this project by Mandeep Dhadialla. She is also delivering one of the workshops for the project. Mandeep is also associate artist with my Community Spirit project.
I’d love to keep this project going and replicate it elsewhere. If you are interested in supporting creativity and wellbeing for underserved communities in a similar way, please get in touch.
Would you like to stitch part of a collaborative artwork for my Criminal Quilts project? Throughout the years I’ve research women in Stafford Prison, I’ve noticed the words used to label women. The nature of the prison documents means the words are quite judgemental and absolute.
With this project I want to reflect on the words used to describe and label women then and now. The artwork will be made of stitched words, both positive and negative, created by women participants through community workshops and women working on them at home. Being part of a collective project about women’s lives and the perception of women is really powerful. I’d love to hear your voice in this work. Find out more and how to contribute your stitched words on my website here.
I’ll be running free drop-in sessions at Llantarnam Grange on International’s Women’s Day 8th March, stitching words for the artwork. You can book yourself a space here.
My Criminal Quilts exhibition has been touring since 2018 and after some pandemic cancellations and rescheduling, the last hurrah is coming up in February 2022. The exhibition will be on show at Llantarnam Grange 5th February – 2nd April.
I will be hosting an an online preview event accessible to all on Friday 4th February time TBC.
The exhibition will include lots of new work made in the last couple of years which you can see here as well as other pieces still in progress plus new collaborative community work.
There will be events in the gallery and online during the spring including a collaborative project inviting contributions from around the world.
After the exhibition, I’m creating an online live gathering event with other artists to share stories about making craft with powerful social and historical narratives. If you are interested in sharing your work at this event please contact me.
I have created an embroidery project for Fermynwoods Contemporary Art, inspired by my time in lockdown (which I am still in!). The project is based around negative space embroidery and using leaf-shapes to create the design. It reflects the isolation of lockdown and the connection with local nature which so many people have experienced this year. You can find the activity here.
We are living through a significant moment in history which has seen a huge resurgence in craft activity with groups and individuals coming together to support the creation of PPE for the health and care services. Others have taken the opportunity to learn new skills or rediscover old ones, to pass the time in lockdown, to support home schooling, to make do and mend while shops have been closed and to support personal wellbeing.
As a museum of textiles, Gawthorpe Textiles Collection feel that it is important to capture and record the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on textile craft at this important time and explore what legacy there may be.
As part of a grant received from the Arts Council England Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund Ruth will gather stories to create a digital archive of activity as well as create a digital publication and podcast.
We will be seeking out stories from Lancashire and the North West as well as a broader perspective from the wider UK and the world. More details will be released over the coming days of how you can get involved in sharing your story.
I’m pleased to be taking part in the Leicester Print Workshop members exhibition this year. I am working in collaboration with Gillian McFarland to produce a changing artwork installation which will develop from week to week as we share ideas, develop and pass things to and fro and create new pieces inspired by two found objects.
The exhibition opens this weekend (17th-18th November) with the Print Festival and Gillian and I will be giving at talk on Saturday 17th November at 4pm about our work. There is also an exhibition preview on Friday 23rd November – details below. The exhibition continues until 26th January 2019.
Gillian McFarland and Ruth Singer work in collaboration as McFarland & Singer alongside their distinct and established solo artistic practices. They began working together in 2014 while sharing a studio; a space that allowed them to share ideas and approaches. In addition to the work created for this residency, McFarland & Singer have a strong convergence of interest around the archaeology of stains and marks of time.
This work is an ongoing collaboration, passing to and fro between us as we each explore related, but separate ideas. The piece begins with two found objects from a charity shop which we both respond to initially, through discussion and making alongside each other. This work will change every week as we add new prints and related pieces of work. This work is displayed in file trays to represent the orderly collation and separation of ideas. Feel free to take the pieces out of the trays and move them around and change the order. We will use this intervention and selection as part of the process of making new pieces each week.
The first five pieces of the collaborative Criminal Quilt have arrived! Thank you contributors. There are another 95 to come – hopefully. If you have one to make, please make sure it is back with me (or to Staffordshire Record Office) by 9th July. Full return details in this document collaborative quilt return form
Thanks for your interest but I’ve now had over 100 people register which already makes an enormous quilt!
I am hoping to re-open this later in the year for exhibitions in 2019, so please keep in touch by signing up to my mailing list, following this blog or my social media including Criminal Quilts Twitter
Alongside my research and workshops at Staffordshire Record Office, my Criminal Quilts project also includes a creative residency in the Fashion and Textile Department of Wolverhampton University. I included this in the project so I could work with students and staff to help develop the creative work and have access to their amazing studio facilities. I am in the process of setting up a student brief for students across art and design to make work for exhibitions based around the information and data which is growing from the archive research. I hope that working alongside a practicing artist on a live project with exhibitions and publications will be a great experience and some exciting and innovative work will be produced.
Personally I am working closely with Senior Lecturer Jan Wrigley and Professor Fiona Hackney on both the practical, creative side and on completely new (for me) outcomes for the project including a symposium at the end of 2018 and academic papers. When I devised the project plan and funding application I intentionally created new ways of sharing the project beyond the usual exhibition and am excited by the possibilities which have developed to share and record the project in so many ways.
I also get the chance to experiment with the equipment and facilities at the University including digital print and tufting, all of which is completely new to me. The screen print workshop has much larger capacity than I am used to as well so I hope that I will be able to make some larger scale work rather than my usual tiny, detailed hand stitched work. I even got to have a go with the embellisher in the machine room on my last visit and hope to use the Cornelly embroidery machine on another session. I was also charmed to find pages from my books adorning the machine room for student reference!