Part of my Narrative Threads exhibition artist residency has been to work with local communities around Sleaford and the National Centre for Craft and Design. I built this into my Arts Council funding so I could experiment with new ways of working with different audiences, continue to build my community arts CV and try and engage the local community with my work and the messages around it.
A lot of the work created in these workshops and events will be displayed as part of Narrative Threads.
Earlier in the summer I worked with a Sleaford primary school on a project exploring amulets and objects with stories. In the first session we investigated words and symbols which have significance across cultures and in different time periods. The children made tags with special messages, images and symbols. For the second session they brought in special objects and collected natural materials to use to make their own amulets. We used printing, sewing and wrapping to make the amulets and each child wrote about their amulets and why it was special.
Sleaford Alzheimers Society
It has been particularly rewarding to work at the Sleaford Dementia Cafe run by the Alzheimers Society. In the first session we created Memory Collages, using fabric scraps and felt to build up pictures of special places or hobbies.
For the second session I took along a reminiscence box of old clothes and textiles to spark memories and stories similar to my textile memories project. These will be embroidered onto a cloth for display in the exhibition. I had hoped it would be engaging for the participants and their carers to reminisce about textile memories from their families. Many people talked about their childhood, their mother’s embroidery skills – or lack of them – and their own sewing for their children. It was a fascinating and absorbing day, and I hope to do more of this kind of work in the future.
I have also run workshops for families during school holidays, making painted and embroidered pincushions and other drop-in craft workshops.
Yesterday I ran a workshops for Arts NK’s community wellbeing event at Waddington, Lincs making memory tags- a decorated luggage label telling a story of a happy memory or something important in your life.
I am currently working with A Level textiles students who are creating work inspired by mine as part of the assessed portfolio. Their finished pieces will also be in the exhibition.
Once the exhibition is open I will continue to work with groups including a GCSE group and community sessions for a local sheltered housing scheme. I have also set up Crafts for Relaxation, a free monthly workshop for people who might not be able to afford or attend normal workshops, with the idea of participants meeting new people and getting some time to themselves. This programme has taken some time to get up and running and it has been a challenge to reach the right audience but it is a useful process for me in working out how to self-run community projects in the future.