East Anglian Stitch Textiles
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All posts by Felicity Borwick

The Darn Busters

Inspirational army of amateur stitchers have sewn nearly 25,000 scrubs for hero NHS workers

The newspaper article under the headline above is about the army of women making scrubs and scrub bags for the NHS. Beginning with a WhatsApp group there are now over 100 scrub hubs. The headline was highlighted on Woman’s Hour this morning and prompted a discussion about women stitching, mending and how skills are not being passed down the generations as in the past.

I became involved in my local group and at least one other member of E.A.S.T. is making scrubs for the NHS. It makes me feel like I am doing something positive and part of a practical response.  One friend has been like a factory, has produced 15 pairs and another person made over 30! I had the desire to individualise mine and stitched a ‘Thank you NHS’ message inside the back facing.

First pair of scrubs

The virus has forced our lives to change to something that will never be the same again. I’m hoping from all the truly tragic events many positive things will happen. It must be so. This is life changing. I had been working on how building new roads impacts the environment. Then, as the lockdown began, it seemed irrelevant compared to all the much more important things going on. As time has passed, roads have become so much quieter, pollution has decreased dramatically, and nature been able to re-establish itself. It is an opportunity to think about how and whether we should we travel as we used to. Positive changes.

Everyone’s situation is different and individual and depends on many factors as to how each person is reacting and feeling. Every day I see, hear and read how this lockdown period has given space and material to be incredibly creative. By contrast some people find it can lock their creativity by the emotional and physical demands on them. And the mood can change as the daily bulletins announce statistics and change.

My creativity fluctuates. I feel the need to balance my time. How is your creativity during the covid-19 lockdown?

There are many things out there that on the internet that you can access: Many of the major art galleries have been working more on their websites to have on-line exhibitions which can be inspirational. Tate is full of interesting exhibitions with loads of information and links to follow. I looked at the fascinating life of Louise Bourgeois, Tate Liverpool, and a particular quote resonated with me: “I need to make things. The physical interaction with the medium has a curative effect. I need the physical acting out. I need to have these objects exist in relation to my body”. Louise Bourgeois I Am Afraid is a fabric work by Louise Bourgeois featuring lines of text woven into canvas. Short statements and individual words in upper case are woven in grey thread into the grey-beige fabric and are grouped into four stanzas. It’s worth a read and to think about what frightens you.

If, like me, you intended to go to the exhibition: Unbound: Visionary Women Collecting Textiles at Two Temple Place, photographs can be seen on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pg/twotempleplace/photos I felt frustration at not being able to see the textiles up close and study the detail. I think it is difficult to capture the texture and 3-dimensional qualities of textiles photographically. The explanatory text is not included. It whetted my appetite and I’m hoping that the exhibition will be extended so there is a chance to see it once some of the current restrictions are lifted.

A hands-on project with some structure which also gives some creativity is the textileartist.org community stitch challenge 2020 https://www.facebook.com/groups/stitchchallenge . Each week textile artists give a video workshop with a hand stitch challenge and the results that people post are inspiring.

dangerous pockets

Dangerous Pockets Project Exhibition – A Community Art Collaboration by Paula MacGregor in Ipswich

This exhibition is currently on show in Ipswich at The Whistler Gallery in The Jerwood Dance Centre on the Waterfront, until 29th February and I thoroughly recommend seeing it.
Paula MacGregor, the community artist explains;
” I read a poem called ‘Dangerous Coats’ by Sharon Owens, it is a light-hearted poem that caught my imagination – and so the Dangerous Pockets Project was born. I asked people to send me pockets they had made; I threaded them onto red cords and arranged for them to tour England – and possibly beyond. Why a red cord – it is symbolic of the joining together of women all over the world”.

Dangerous Coats by Sharon Owens

Someone clever once said
Women were not allowed pockets
In case they carried leaflets
To spread sedition
Which means unrest
To you and me
A grandiose word
For common sense
So ladies, start sewing
Dangerous coats
Made of pockets & sedition

The Dangerous Pockets Project brought people together of all ages – helping to break social isolation, as well as encouraging conversation about matters of health, fairness and general well being. Many people said making the pockets was cathartic and therapeutic – helping them work through recent surgery and unpleasant treatments, and issues from their past. Others have said the pockets awakened their creativity – some people become a bit addicted and made several!

Ellen’s Legacy – Slow Stitched Books
Paula has just launched a new community project that has been dedicated to her dear friend and fellow artist Ellen Devall. Ellen was a dedicated member of E.A.S.T. for 7 years , who passed away in the hospice whilst holding Paula’s hand, on 25th June 2019
Paula made Ellen an unconditional promise to keep her work going.
To find out more about this project details are on Paula’s website and on Facebook.

Some of the Dangerous Pockets in The Whistler Gallery