Bridging Arts

Saturday, 25 December 2010

A Christmas present

The right side....
And the reverse....
A fabulous tablecloth from my daughter, bought in a charity shop in Cheadle Hume (Manchester). Very seasonal colours. Beautiful embroidery - hand embroidered, we think.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Flowers and cakes again

It's the last class - only three sessions this time - and everyone is rather sad. The whole thing has proved a great success. Such enthusiasm.  And so brilliant that people have brought in examples of embroidery, told their stories and started embroidering again - and in one or two cases, embroidered for the first time. We gathered ideas of how to take this work forward: will report back in due course.
There is a clear need to carry on and expand work with older people in the Borough and byond.
The lounge in Trillington House is barely used. Residents are very keen to make new friends. And we've found people in the Borough who struggle to find any craft-based activity offered by Adult Education classes etc.
Flowers again to lift the spirits.And ever more festive cakes and buns from the Co-op, Uxbridge Road.

Goldwork on church vestments

Stella, a pillar of the congregation at Holy Innocents' Church, Dalling Road (less than a mile away), brought in some vestments with exquisite goldwork. Most of the best examples of goldwork in the UK are on ecclesiastical garments. These are really interesting examples of contemporary work and designs.
An ear of corn

Final session at Trillington House

Saba Hammad joined us and brought beautiful handstitched saris and shawls, embroidered and bought in Pakistan.

Nothing to do with sewing - but a good Christmas message

Nothing to do with sewing at all - Christmas celebrations at Notre Dame Refugee Centre. The hymn is in lingala and the gist of it is simple: Step forward to receive your blessing. If you don't step forward, you won't get one.
Whether you're religious or not - that's a pretty good message.

Friday, 10 December 2010

British Asian Style

The book - British Asian Style published by the V&A - resulting from Fashioning Diaspora (a project run by the V&A in collaboration with the Royal Holloway) is now out. Featuring a chapter on the British Sari Story and Stitch. A good review here.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Andrew's fish embroidery

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Trying out Stella's magnifying glass

General agreement that it is a huge help. Arrange to buy a few for next week.

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Eileen joins us from Fulham

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Stella brings her cushions

Beautiful tapestry....
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A festive offering from the Co-op

Festive chocolate buns.
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A good turn out....

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Second embroidery class at Trillington House

Another cold morning - sorbet coloured carnations to match the icy temperatures.
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Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Tea party on Uxbridge Road

Our first event at Trillington House, Uxbridge Road. This is sheltered accommodation run by Notting Hill Housing (a major London housing trust). We have been hoping for some time to work on embroidery with groups of elderly people in residential homes, and at last we have the chance. It is an icy morning but everyone is in good spirits. We are very fortunate to have Rosa Martyn from the Royal School of Needlework (RSN) to demonstrate some stitches.  And of course Bridging Arts workshop assistant Katherine Eves and volunteer Katrina Williams, who has been a mainstay of the project from the start.
Katherine Eves talking about her new embroidered book, about her Uncle.
Andrew, telling the group his story

Rosa from the Royal School of Needlework, demonstrating crewelwork (embroidery with wool). She is embroidery a Christmas present for her grandmother.   

A break halfway through.
Katherine Eves, an illustration graduate who has cast aside her drawing pen for the needle, shows her latest embroidered book. I show the dress embroidered for me by my mother, for my first birthday. This is a work of art, with a fringe of flowers from Cornwall (where I grew up) around the hem.
 Inspired, Norma and Sylvia go upstairs to fetch some of their own collections.
A needlepoint picture owned by Norma
Tania's crochet

Monday, 29 November 2010

STITCH embroidery classes in Harrow in the New Year

We have dates for an eight-week embroidery course in Harrow in the spring in partnership with the Asian Women's Resource Centre. Once again, we'll be studying embroidery packs, developed with the Royal School of Needlework (RSN), looking at Islamic and western traditions of patterns and techniques. Please do email me if you would like to know more, volunteer or book a place. Sessions on embroidery techniques will be led by the RSN. Here are the details:
Thursdays, 11am to 1pm starting 20 January 2011. A lunch club will follow for a nominal charge.
The classes will then run weekly, with the exception of 12 March (International Women's Day) for eight weeks.These classes will be free, thanks to our funding from Faiths in Action, through Community and Local Government.
Venue: Marlborough Hill Centre, 76 Malborough Hill, Harrow HA1 1TY

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Protesting at London Councils meeting

Morning protest outside London Councils offices, Southwark, ahead of a Grants' Committee meeting. Very cold. On the agenda: funding cuts that will cripple many small organisations supporting vulnerable groups across London. Our partners, the AsianWomen's Resource Centre, are out in force. A bitterly cold morning and disappointing news. Looks likely that the axe will fall from the end of June next year.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dinner at the Morden Mosque

For the second year running am lucky enough to be invited to dinner at the Amadiyya Muslim mosque in Morden. This time, Amtul Kafi invited me. Amtul was a keen and wonderful participant in our embroidery classes in Tooting in the summer. Amtul is now studying at the Royal Holloway: she would like to be a doctor. This having arrived in the UK less than ten years ago from the Punjab, speaking no English.
She shows me the library where there are many books and pictures of Abdus Salam, who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1979. Abdus Salam has inspired her with words from the Koran that drove him, she says: 'Look again'. ([Al-Mulk 67:5] Aye, look again, and yet again...) Amtul keeps looking.
Amtul Kafi holding Zubaidah Shah's embroidery
(Abdus Salam was an Amadiyya Muslim. He is buried in Rabwah, Pakistan. The inscription on his grave originally read ' First Muslim Nobel Laureate'. However, due to protests by Muslims who do not recognise Amadiyya
 Muslims, the word 'Muslim' has been removed. So the inscription now apparently - absurdly  - reads ' first Nobel Laureate'.)
Was very pleased to see some embroidery by Zubaidah Shah. Amtul holds it here. Zubaidah is 83. This embroidery certainly puts anything I can produce to shame.
Embroidery by Zubaidah Shah, 83, who has been a keen participant in this project from the start
The reverse of Zubaidah's embroidery. The reverse is always revealing. In this case, as neat as the front....

Friday, 19 November 2010

A protest at possible funding cuts

Just heard - the Asian Women's Resource Centre (AWRC) is taking a busload of women to London Council offices near Waterloo next Thursday when proposed massive funding cuts will be discussed. These cuts - which threaten many small organisations working with marginalised communities across London - could be make or break for the AWRC.
This is part of the government's spending review. Councils, which fund much pan-London work as well as activities within particular Boroughs, are talking about 'repatriating' current funding and delivering the same services only in Borough. This means organisations that work across Borough boundaries - e.g. the AWRC - would be left without funds.
A small knock-on effect for our classes: next Thursday's (25/11) will be postponed as many women will be down at Waterloo.

Scenes from recent classes

Scenes from the most recent classes at the Asian Women's Resource Centre, Harlesden...
Detail from embroidery brought in by Khalima

Everyone hard at work
And the full picture.

Crochet brought in by Daxa

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Sewing, tea and cake.

For a long time, we have hoped to work locally - ie. close to our office - in Hammersmith and Fulham - and in residential homes. At last this is possible, thanks to a small grant from Hammersmith and Fulham Council and a partnership with Notting Hill Housing association. We are planning three sessions in Trillington House, Uxbridge Road, Shepherds Bush, London on
1 December 2010
8 December 2010
15 December 2010
We will have embroidery demonstrations, embroidery surgeries and a chance to sew and chat. From 10am to 12 noon on each day.
Not to be missed. Email for more information. To download a flyer, please click here

Sunday, 14 November 2010

View from the window

And very finally - what could be more final than a graveyard? - the jumble of graves in the Jewish graveyard, seen from the window. Bodies buried12 deep because of lack of space in the ghetto. Brings thoughts of 20th century atrocities to mind, but this graveyard closed some centuries ago.
As often happens, the view from a museum window proves unsettling.
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A (nearly) contemporary tapestry

And finally something far more recent. A tapestry from the 1920s of a potter at work. Have been thinking recently that I would like to make a huge tapestry wall hanging. But how long would it take? A cushion cover takes months ...
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A very different ceremonial gown

And upstairs ecclesiastical goldwork. Here detail of a statue for Our Lady from the Prague Loretto. 1700 to 1720
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A machine stitched collar on a 70s wedding dress

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Worn by the bride

Prague, 1976
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More wedding clothes

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A ghostly wedding parade

And all given a real presence by a parade of ghostly wedding garments. Small photos of the brides wearing the dresses on display next to them.
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Embroidered shoes for a Pope

Leather with silver, 1760
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A daffodils tapestry

Bohemia, 1900. Had to take this photo to mirror Chhaya Biswas' daffodils embroidery currently on display at the Women's Library (as part of our Stitch project)
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Painted walls

Trompe d'oeil wall covering...
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Textiles and life

And all this before getting to the exhibition, which took me by surprise. A really enchanting look at textiles and life. From medieval wall hangings, like the tapestry here... To the textiles and embroidery that clothe brides, priests and tables. Showing the way that fabric and embroidery can clothe moments as well as objects.
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Floor tiles

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Vaulted ceiling above the stairs

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Kaleidoscope of patterns

The neo Renaissance museum, built at the turn of the 19th century, is a kaleidoscope of patterns and decorative detail. Eastern European grandeur... Noticed the same kind of splendour in September in Budapest, another capital that sprang to life in the late 1800s.
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