This case study, which explores a participatory textile making project, is written by Nikkita Morgan. To see more case studies or find out how to contribute one yourself, click here.
Title of case study project or workshop
Inverkeithing Stitching In Time
Name(s) of practitioner(s) and institution/organisation, if any
Nikkita Morgan (lead artist), Fife Council project, delivered by Fife Historic Buildings Trust.
Context for project
Inverkeithing Stitching In Time is an artist-led community-based textile project commissioned by Fife Historic Buildings Trust (FHBT). It is part of Inverkeithing Heritage Regeneration, a 5-year CARS/TH, delivering heritage-led regeneration, with funding from Historic Environment Scotland and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
When did the project take place?
The project ran June 2021 – February 2022.
Background(s) of the practitioner(s)
Nikkita Morgan is an Irish mixed media textile artist based in Edinburgh. She received her Master’s in Textile Design in 2014 from Norwich University of the Arts and was a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council Award for her course of study. Morgan’s first degree, BA (Hons) in Textile, Art, Design & Craft (2010-13) was at the University of Wales: Trinity Saint David: Coleg Sir Gar.
Aims of project
The aim was a collaborative textile artwork for Inverkeithing’s historic Town House that interpreted key stories from its fascinating and extraordinary past.
Our goal was an inclusive, participatory project that brought a wide range of community members together to learn about Inverkeithing’s rich history and for each participant to learn or develop their embroidery skills to enable them to produce their own stitched artwork. Participants worked individually, and collaboratively, to create an amazing artistic legacy. Everyone involved feels proud of the artwork, which will become a treasured community resource. It will offer visitors an engaging, alternative interpretation of Inverkeithing.
Description of project
I devised and delivered embroidery-based workshops for audiences including young children, secondary pupils and adults.
In June, I ran 2 embroidery workshops with 7 high school students from 1.30-3.30pm, outdoors in Inverkeithing. I began by teaching a selection of embroidery techniques. Then the students designed and stitched a letter of their choice.
In August, I ran 2 felted boat-making workshops with 9 children each time, from 1-3pm outdoors at a Community Centre. I made a basic boat template for the children to sew. The felt boats referenced the nearby harbour, and Inverkeithing’s maritime heritage. Some of the children’s parents were involved in the adult workshops. The children were excited by the prospect of having their stitched boat on the same artwork as their parent’s, permanently displayed in the restored Town House.
From June to September, I worked with 36 women in day, evening and Zoom workshops, over 13 weeks. The in-person workshops took place on Thursday evenings, 5-7pm in the Friary Gardens. Friday daytime sessions were 9.45-11am and 11.15am-12.30pm at a Community Centre.
March – June, I worked with project historian Dr Tom Turpie to identify key historical events from the 12th to the 21stcentury, and devised stitch-able drawings to depict events, people and places. I sourced some of the last linen ever woven in Fife to give authenticity and artistic integrity to the artwork.
I designed the 40 panels for the artwork. I encouraged participants confident in their drawing skills, to adapt or further interpret the heritage themes.
I supplied kits of all materials needed including sampler fabric, linen, embroidery threads, hoops and other sewing tools.
In early workshops, I taught a wide selection of embroidery techniques including how to develop and use these skills, for participants to use on their own panel. Following this, those who were ready to move forward selected, designed and stitched a letter from ‘Inverkeithing Stitching in Time’. Participants then chose a historic topic of interest to stitch for the collaborative artwork.
In October, all participants were invited to hand in their work, meet the other participants again, and see many finished or nearly finished embroidered panels together.
In late November, I began creating and constructing the 3 large-scaled panels in my studio in Edinburgh.
Why did you choose to work in this way?
I ran in-person, indoor and outdoor workshops to bring people in the community together, adding an important social dimension to a learning project. I ran virtual workshops to enable more participants to take part at home.
What did you learn from the project?
I learned about Inverkeithing’s local heritage, which was new to me. I learned that participants really valued developing new skills, interpreting narrative in stitch, the social opportunity, plus contributing to a collaborative artwork.
‘Nikkita is a great tutor. I didn’t realise how much she had taught me until I started my panel. This is now something I can do for the rest of my life and I’m already applying it to other projects I’m involved in.’
‘It’s been a fantastic project, especially during covid times. Great to work on a group project.’
‘A most interesting project, that helped me connect to my new home area and engage with folk of similar interest.’
FHBT’s Emma Griffiths, who wrote the brief, was familiar with some Great Scottish Tapestry projects, and a collaborative quilt project by Lorna Fogden, with Link-up Women’s Support.