Image: Lara Hailey, Sewn Antidote.
Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, as a museum of textiles, felt that it was important to capture and record the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on individuals and organisations involved in textile craft and art. As part of a grant received from the Arts Council England Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund, textile artist Ruth Singer was commissioned to create Textiles in Lockdown, a gathering of experiences and thoughts of makers. Through surveys and conversations, Ruth has created a digital archive, an ebook and a podcast. Over 300 people contributed their stories of challenge and creativity over lockdown and how textile making helped them through this time. There are tales of creative block and inspiration, making PPE and collaborating remotely on joint quilts and shared projects, as well as reflections on mental health and wellbeing reflected in our textile making. Ruth has recorded the struggles of businesses and workshop leaders to continue to trade while we are unable to come together.
Image: Claire Wellesley Smith.
For example, one contributor said, “Lockdown gave me time to think and develop a new direction for my work. It's strange to think that such a traumatic period in our lives has produced something so positive for me.” Another explained, “I have felt the need to create things that mark this particular moment in time - so that people in the future might look back at them as mementos of that time.” Talking about the project, Ruth said, “Many readers have said how they found solace and comfort in reading about other people’s experiences and realising that they felt the same way and were not alone. Textiles have an amazing ability to bring people together and this ebook really celebrates the makers and the power of making in all our lives.”
180 hobby makers and over 120 textile professionals responded to the survey to share their stories. These textile makers are just a sample of the millions of knitters, dressmakers, embroiderers, weavers, stitchers and more in the UK, both professional and amateur, who make up the vibrant textile community. As this is a global pandemic the project also welcomed responses from across the world, all contributing to this incredible digital archive.
The ebook is available now for free. For more information visit www.gawthorpetextiles.org.uk
Project funded by Arts Council England National Lottery Project Grants.