Study Day Session 2

We encourage you to watch the pre-session viewing before watching the recording of the live Study Day session.

Attendees shared comments and questions about this session on a padlet (a website that anyone can add to). The padlet has now been archived, and can be accessed via the main Study Day page.

Pre-session viewing

Stitching Together / FilmGeographies film screenings:

Soft Walls – denirée isabel, Helen Liene Dreifelds, Emma Aurelia (2019, 4 minutes)

Through the performance of soft walls, denirée isabel, Helen Liene Dreifelds and Emma Aurelia explore the notion of extended technique in weaving. In thoughtful defiance of tradition, they strive to stretch their relationship with material, process and one another. They ask: what can we achieve when we work collectively and unconventionally? In what ways can we reimagine structures of support, tension and extension? Ultimately, how can we deepen the connection to ourselves, machines and to one another?

Mahampy, Material of Life – Sarah Emily Brown (2019, 20 minutes)

“Mahampy is the material of humans, Malagasy, from the time of the ancestors to the latest generation.” In Mahampy, material of life, reed-weaver Ravolasoa Jacqueline explains the significance of mahampy reeds in southeast Madagascar. The mats made from mahampy are a constant, not only across the generations, but throughout the lives of individuals. People are born onto mats, and the dead are wrapped in them. The film follows Jacqueline through the process of making a mat, from harvesting materials to weaving, finishing, and going to market, as she reflects on her craft. It celebrates the relationship between craftswoman and material.

Sew Near – Sew Far – Lynn Setterington (2017, 5 minutes)

This film details a stitched-based commission in which the pseudonymous autographs of the Bronte sisters are writ large in the landscape that inspired their creativity. The fleeting artwork on the hills of Haworth for the Bronte Parsonage Museum offers a different lens with which to interpret memory and presents a counter to the ubiquitous, hard, fixed commemorations. The stance of an empathetic embroiderer embedded in place and making is central to the work. The project involves different audiences including hikers, leisure tourists, online viewers and also Talk-English, an organisation teaching English to those new to the country.

Pre-recorded presentations:

Jemma Bagley: The Wellbeing Café Project Loughborough Friday Creatives Project

The Friday Creatives group was set up in 2019 by Wellbeing Cafe director Jemma Bagley. The group initially brought together cafe members who wanted a weekly arts and crafts group. It quickly grew to two sessions on a Friday and welcomed new members. Then lockdown happened, Jemma and the team quickly set-up a Facebook group so that everyone could keep in touch. This was followed in May 2020 with a weekly Zoom session, which again quickly turned into two sessions and Creative Cafe was formed for a Tuesday afternoon. The group had been receiving kits with materials in since early in lockdown and were enjoying sharing photos and encouraging one another but they missed being part of an actual group. It was at this point that the group started to plan, design, and make window displays. Whilst the group members were apart, their work was brought together in a prominent town centre shop window. 

Catherine Reinhart: The Collective Mending Sessions

The Collective Mending Sessions (CMS) is a series of socially engaged workshops centered on collaboratively mending abandoned quilts led by artist Catherine Reinhart. Since 2018, CMS has mended three quilts with over 150 participants at twenty sessions taking place locally, regionally, and internationally via virtual adaptation due to the global pandemic. This project uses craft as a catalyst for social repair and is driven by the question, “How do we MEND our communities?”. The aim of this project is to cultivate care for cloth and community through the meditative practice of slow stitching. Video contains participant testimonials and footage of mended quilts.

For more information: collectivemendingsessions.com / Instagram @collectivemendingsessions

Preparation for the live session:

Jane Cook: Stitch Meditation activity

Stitch Meditation is a process created by Textile Artist Liz Kettle. It recognises the potential of stitching in lowering blood pressure and heartrate, reducing stress and improving mental wellbeing. Terms such as ‘mindful stitching’ and ‘slow stitching’ reflect similar activities and benefits. It can be linked with traditional techniques of Kantha, Boro and patchwork and quilting.

Jane has a lifelong enthusiasm for embroidery and has created a local therapeutic stitch group called ‘Stitch to Enrich’ where folk can meet to develop friendships and share the joy of stitching that focusses on the process rather than the product.  

Jane presented a simple stitch activity in the final 30 minutes of this session. Based on the principles of Stitch Meditation, it allowed participants to experience the pleasure of sharing a love of simple stitching with others.  

Live session

Recording of the live session

  1. Jemma Bagley, Lauren Foster and Kim Mason (The Wellbeing Café Project Loughborough Friday Creatives Project) and Catherine Reinhart (The Collective Mending Sessions) in conversation, facilitated by Amy Twigger Holroyd
  2. Sarah Green: ManCraft: music, mayhem and a little bit of sewing… (see below)
  3. Emma Aurelia (Soft Walls), Sarah Brown (Mahampy, Material of Life) and Lynn Setterington (Sew Near – Sew Far) in conversation, facilitated by Nicola Thomas

About the live presentation

Sarah Green: ManCraft: music, mayhem and a little bit of sewing… ‘I think it might be good and relaxing after the day I’ve had.’ (Kyle 2017)

I established ManCraft, a textile craft group for men, as part of my practice-based PhD research (Loughborough University, 2015-2020). The research examined the wellbeing benefits of textile crafting for men experiencing vulnerabilities. During the practice textile crafting provided the participants with opportunities to discover their abilities through purposeful ‘doing’, whilst intense concentration in a task facilitated the relationships within the group. The accumulation of these ‘little’ processual and social exchanges was significant to the empowerment of the ManCraft participants. Drawing on extracts from my observational journal, I invite you to share in the ManCraft participants’ experiences. 

Sarah’s original presentation included music to give us an insight into the ManCraft workshop experience – Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen at the start, and Little Queenie by Chuck Berry at the end. We removed these from the recording to avoid running into copyright problems with YouTube … but Sarah has kindly provided a ManCraft playlist so you can recreate the atmosphere at home!

Welcome to the ManCraft playlist. 

Below you will find a playlist that includes several songs that were chosen by the participants and played in the ManCraft workshops. Please feel free to try it out yourself whilst stitching, or with a group. 

If you would like to come up with your own playlist then why not try playing the ManCraft ‘carousel’. To begin, the ‘DJ’ (whoever that may be) will play a song chosen at random then, taking it in turns, each participant can choose a song. Each song must link to the previous song in some way. The easiest way to do this is to choose a word from the song/artist playing and use this word to choose the next song/artist to follow. For example, if the DJ choses to play Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, then the next song could include the words ‘Queen’, ‘Bohemian’ or ‘Rhapsody’, e.g. God Save the Queen by Sex Pistols or Little Queenie by Chuck Berry. 

If anyone gets stuck and can’t think of a linking song (as I often did), then you can open it out to the group for ideas and choose a song from one of the ideas (the ManCraft participants would often help me to choose a song). It is a very casual game, designed to allow everyone to get involved and avoid any musical clashes.      

  1. Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen
  2. Little Queenie – Chuck Berry
  3. Strawberry Fields Forever – The Beatles 
  4. Forever – Kiss
  5. Suck my Kiss – Red Hot Chilli Peppers 
  6. You Sexy Thing – Hot Chocolate
  7. Gimme Chocolate – BabyMetal (warning may offend)
  8. B-A-B-Y – Carla Thomas 
  9. Nobody’s Baby Now – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds 
  10. Bright Horses – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  11. Black Horse and the Cherry Tree – KT Tunstall 
  12. Paint it Black – The Rolling Stones
  13. Come What(ever) May – Stone Sour
  14. So What – Pink 
  15. Another Brick in the Wall – Pink Floyd 

We hope you enjoy listening and playing your own musical carousel…  

Facilitators

Nicola Thomas is Professor of Historical and Cultural Geography, University of Exeter. Her research focuses on the links between culture, economy, society and has included topics including maker livelihoods, regional craft economies, communities of practices within craft cooperative organisations, and craft practice as social science research process. As a historical geographer Nicola is specifically interested in the shape of 20th century craft practice and the ongoing legacies in contemporary contexts. Current research includes analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on the regional craft sector. Nicola is also developing a long-standing pillar of her wider research portfolio around the outcomes of colonial power relationships, working on a project addressing  the interaction of heritage collections of hand crafted objects, making connections to contemporary origin communities, and decolonial practices within the heritage and craft sector. 

Dr Emma Shercliff and Dr Amy Twigger Holroyd are the coordinators of the Stitching Together network.